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Let’s Get Our Arts Funding Priorities Right

The Beagle Editor The lead story in today’s ‘Bega District News’ has Iain Dawson, Director of the Bega Valley Regional Gallery, expressing ‘disappointment’ at not having received $3.4 MILLION funding from the NSW Regional Cultural Fund to, essentially, replace a satisfactorily functioning art gallery in Bega with a swish new facility. His disappointment is understandable if he really thought $3.4 MILLION in funding for a new visual art gallery in Bega would be forthcoming.(Last year the gallery attracted 22,000 visitors. That’s just 60 visitors per day [my doctor’s practice attracts more that that!]. Spending $3.4 MILLION EXTRA to cater for 22,000 people [do your maths!] surely can’t be considered a sound investment by any measure – so perhaps the funding application was a tad over-optimistic!) If the new complex was to include something more than just a replacement visual arts gallery (for example, simultaneously providing spaces for cinema and video, music, dance, local history (including Aboriginal history) displays, a local history and media research facility, even imaginative and stimulating play areas for the area’s young people), perhaps the funding application would have been more successful. After all, the Regional Cultural Fund is intended to ‘strengthen regional arts [plural], screen, culture and [sic] heritage’ – not just the visual arts. (It must be noted that South Coast History Society sought a comparatively modest $125,000 in this same round of funding to retain the services of a professional historian-in-residence for a 12 month period – an appointment that would demonstrably benefit 12 local history societies/museums, 9 local high schools, 28 local primary schools, 9 local public library branches, 8 local newspapers, plus a whole slew of local community groups – but our application, too, was unsuccessful. And, yes, we’re also disappointed!!) Perhaps it’s time that our community (led by Council) had a serious discussion about the area’s arts (plural) needs and then sought and supported funding for the most deserving of projects – and not just to benefit the visual arts, dance and music (the arts that currently receive almost all ‘arts’ funding). A lot of people, a lot of local organisations, would agree with us that its time history/heritage organisations (currently, very poor cousins when it comes to arts funding) received their fair share of arts funding. South Coast History Society

The Brown Mountain road, many years ago

#Opinion #Arts #Bega

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