From Tracey: Funding, but not enough
Our executive director’s editorial for April 2019. Published originally in our Artspeak enews. This month’s topic: Funding shortages.
One of the tasks that Arts OutWest undertook in March was to ask each of the candidates in the NSW state election for their policy position in relation to the arts. For us it was very interesting to see which individuals articulated a position in relation to the arts, the different party positions including which ones actually had developed policies and where the priorities lay. We will be doing the same exercise for the upcoming Federal election.
Policies do matter. We need not only a recognition of the value of arts but of the needs of regional NSW.
We have recently seen an injection of infrastructure funds into our region for projects through the NSW government’s Regional Cultural Fund. We certainly welcome this input from our state government. This funding opportunity exposed a great need not only in the Arts OutWest region but right across regional New South Wales. There is still more advocacy to do. First of all, we need to make it clear that regional locations can be assured of receiving a ‘fair share’ of funding such as recent cultural expenditure. While we are glad to see investment in our regions, the fact remains that the bulk of cultural investment has gone into Sydney.
Furthermore, while not disputing that regional NSW was much in need of some infrastructure support, what happens beyond the building and renovation of capital works? We need support for the people on the ground that make our regional arts programs so successful. Here at Arts OutWest we have not received any increase in our state government funding since 2013 and we have been told that there will be no increase in our funding through to the end of 2020. We have already cut our staff levels back and even so and are looking at possibly running a deficit budget until the end of 2020. We know that other organisations on multi-year agreements are in a similar position. I think that we at Arts OutWest, as the organisation responsible for supporting arts and cultural development in our region, have more work ahead of us. We will continue to advocate for our sector and make the case for the value of arts and culture in regional communities and how it can be appropriately supported.
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