We pay our tax, so we deserve a fair share of arts funding: Hawkesbury Mayor

Hawkesbury Mayor, Kim Ford. Picture: Geoff Jones.
Hawkesbury Mayor, Kim Ford. Picture: Geoff Jones.

The Hawkesbury Regional Gallery’s funding being reduced from three years to just one is an example of the state government’s art funding program letting down regional centres according to Mayor Kim Ford.

The Hawkesbury Mayor said the gallery and regional museum was awarded $105,000 plus GST for the year 2015-16, but not having three years of certainty meant programs were reigned in and an education and public programs officer cut.

“This is a very important role in developing audience participation and attendance. To meet the growing demands and expectations of our communities, the museum and the gallery depend on continuing, and ideally, increased State Government funding.”

His comments come after data shows the state government allocated over $400 million to eastern Sydney arts projects in the last 12 months, with only $15 million going to greater western Sydney.

Cr Ford said arts funding should reflect Sydney’s population base and provide opportunities for cultural expression and participation where people live.

“Council would also simply note that the residents of the Hawkesbury and Greater Western Sydney (like all residents of NSW and Australia) contribute to the finances of the NSW State Government and the Federal Government through the taxation system,’’ Cr Ford said.

“It would only seem reasonable that they should have a corresponding share of the funds allocated for the provision of an accessible and affordable network of cultural facilities.”

After the Arts Minister stated his position that local councils be left to fund regional arts infrastructure, Cr Ford disagreed with the model.

“Through the taxation system, the residents of the Hawkesbury make a substantial financial contribution to the NSW and Federal Government precisely for the purpose of funding the arts infrastructure that the Minister refers to. Requiring local government to use ratepayer funds for arts infrastructure would see residents paying twice for these facilities,’’ he said.

The Mayor pointed out that many local councils were recently assessed for fitness by the state government, with many found wanting and long lists of asset backlogs identified.

“So it’s contradictory to suggest that they can fund new arts infrastructure without the partnership and support of the state government.”