On 13 December 2013 Country Arts WA (CAWA) delivered the devastating news that the Geraldton Arts and Development Council Inc (‘ACDC’) would not be receiving any level of financial assistance under its recurrent Core Arts funding program for 2014-2016.
As a Category A Arts organisation ACDC represents, supports and advocates for artists and arts communities across the entire Midwest. It develops and delivers arts activities for all sectors of the community – and in 2014 has designated programs for youth, children, Aboriginal and culturally diverse communities, people with disabilities, emerging and professional artists, and people in remote Midwest communities. Without support from CAWA, which represents 50% of its core funding, ACDC's ability to deliver on these scheduled projects is seriously compromised.
The current Board of management which took office in March 2013 has worked extremely hard to establish a secure financial basis for ACDC and to offer a revitalised, and diverse program of activities and events. It has established strong strategic partnerships with the City of Greater-Geraldton, Durack Institute and worked with Centro Stirlings on the project which resulted in works by local artists on the new shopping centre in Chapman Road.
ACDC Chairperson Ms Anthea da Silva said, “We are stunned that when ACDC is in the strongest and most vital condition it has been for a decade, CAWA is taking this action that will force us to cut back on services we can provide to the community”.
Ms da Silva said ‘This decision seems to run completely contrary to the government’s stated policy for regional arts. The State Government has released $24million over 3 years to invest in regional arts. The Regional Arts Funding Priorities Survey report states that Country Arts is responsible for ensuring that ”decisions about the direction of [those] funds are in accordance with the wishes and best outcomes for regional Western Australians. Focussing on programs delivered locally by arts workers in the regions, meets the first goal of Royalties for Regions spending as it clearly helps to build capacity in regional communities.”
“With the Midwest receiving a total of only 4% of the total core arts fund budget and no funding for the only peak arts organisation for the entire Midwest Region, it appears that the ‘wishes and best outcomes’ of the Midwest are not equal to the other regions’.”
The Core funding Guidelines state: “It is a requirement under the Department of Culture and the Arts that this fund achieves state-wide spread. The Panel will therefore be considering regional spread in the assessment process.”
80% of Country Arts WA’s funding has been allocated to just three regions. 34% has been allocated to the Great Southern region and only 4% has been allocated to the Mid West. Country Arts WA is therefore providing almost 8 times more support to Great Southern residents than Mid West residents.
Ms da Silva said “The Midwest was already under-serviced and disadvantaged in access to all arts services. Now the limited service we had has been cut, while southern regions that were already well resourced have received even more funding.
“ACDC is the only representative arts body for the entire Midwest: an area bigger than the state of Victoria, that goes from Green Head to Kalbarri and 800 kilometres inland to Wiluna. It covers almost one fifth of the State, with 17 local government authorities. In comparison the South West regions already received the overwhelming majority of funding to service much smaller, more geographically concentrated and less diverse communities. “
Ms da Silva said, “ACDC has shown that it is a strong and robust advocate for artists and community arts in the Midwest. We have developed a strategic plan to ensure that we continue to deliver quality, diverse arts programs across the region. We enjoy strong support from our members, from the City, from other regional organisations and the community. The primary concerns of the Board are the needs and vitality of the Midwest arts community and the future of arts in the region. The people of the Midwest deserve the same opportunities and services as the rest of WA. ACDC will continue to fight to ensure that we receive them.”
Letter from ACDC:
Thank you to everyone who has already contacted us offering their support and asking how you can assist us to fight this. We really do need the support of all our members to make sure that the Midwest community receives the same support as other regions in WA.
We are asking our members to email or call Country Arts, MLC Ian Blayney and the Minister for Arts Hon John Day to let them know that it is not acceptable that one region has lost its core arts funding when the Government has allocated $24million for regional arts over the next 3 years.
Ask Country Arts to come to Geraldton to explain to the people of the Midwest why they have made this decision and why they are not supporting the arts in the Midwest.
The email addresses are
1. Hon John Day, MLA, Minister for Planning, Culture and the Arts
Ph: 08 9293 4747
2. Hon Ian Blayney MLA, Member for Geraldton
Ph: 08 9964 1640
3. Jessica Machin
CEO Country Arts WA
Ph: 1800 811 883 or 08 92006207