$100m announcement to boost regional arts

WOW: Local member Paul Toole, mayor Graeme Hanger, Arts Minister Don Harwin and the fossil museum's Penny Packham. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK
WOW: Local member Paul Toole, mayor Graeme Hanger, Arts Minister Don Harwin and the fossil museum's Penny Packham. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK

REGIONAL areas will be able to improve their cultural facilities and opportunities thanks to a new $100 million initiative, announced in Bathurst on Monday. 

The NSW Government’s Regional Cultural Fund offers grants to help develop new and existing arts and culture projects in regional areas.

Minister for Arts Don Harwin made the announcement at the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum and said the fund would be a great thing for regional communities like Bathurst. 

“Arts and culture is a big part of the life of regional communities and a vibrant cultural life in our towns and villages are a big part of why people want to stay engaged in the communities they live in,” he said.

The fund offers grants in four sections; small scale projects (under $60,000), medium scale projects ($60,000 to $1 million), large scale projects (over $1 million) and operational grants. 

“I’ve seen some really good examples as I’ve moved around regional NSW … how this sort of funding will make a real difference to some of our existing facilities,” Mr Harwin said.

“But what I am particularly excited about is the $1 million plus category of funding. This is a real game changer and it will give us the capacity to vastly improve cultural infrastructure in regional NSW.”

Applications for expressions of interest opened on Monday, with application forms available at www.create.nsw.gov.au.

Funding can be used to build and refurbish facilities and support projects that take exhibitions on tour. 

Galleries and museums can also apply for operational funding to support the delivery of services, providing distinct experiences to visitors and promoting increased participation in creative and cultural activities.

While in Bathurst on Monday, Mr Harwin took some time to tour the fossil museum with public programs officer Penny Packham and senior staff from Bathurst Regional Council. 

He said he was impressed by the collection of minerals, fossils and the tyrannosaurus rex skeleton suspended from the ceiling.  

“It is an extraordinary collection and it reminds us of the role passionate people play in the putting together collections,” Mr Harwin said.

He said the fossil museum was a credit to Warren Somerville, whose collection is on display, and to Bathurst’s council. 

“We look forward to looking at any proposal that council puts forward to enhance it,” Mr Harwin said.

Organisations have until midnight, September 4 to submit expressions of interest for funding. 

Training will be provided in early August for applicants who need assistance in completing the form. 

Successful applicants will be notified on October 23.