Arts OutWest has joined the chorus of arts organisations across NSW criticising the state government's decision to defund the state's peak regional arts body over the next two years.
Last week, the Berejiklian government announced a majority of Regional Arts NSW's $440,000 annual funding will be reallocated towards the body's 14 Regional Arts Development Organisations [RADO] [including Arts OutWest] by the end of the 2021-22 financial year.
The announcement also stated partner RADO's would receive an additional $28,000 per annum in core funding by the second year.
Arts OutWest executive director Tracey Callinan expressed disappointment at the decision, stating a vast majority of RADO's were against taking additional funding at Regional Arts NSW's expense.
"Regional Arts NSW is our peak body, and if the government wants to make the case that they value the network of RADO's in NSW, this includes support for our peak body," Ms Callinan said.
"They've made this decision against our advice, and by defunding the peak body, you take away vital support and advocacy for the arts across regional NSW."
To justify the decision, Create NSW [the state government's arts department] said the funding had failed to keep up with inflation, but Ms Callinan said there has been no increase in RADO funding since 2013.
"Create NSW's own report acknowledged a 9.1 per cent decrease in funding allocations between 2013 and 2018, this funding decision comes because our agreements are in need of renewal, which was supposed to happen two years ago," she said.
"It's a poor response from a government who purports to stress the importance of regional arts, and shows a level of inconsistency within their approach to policy."
Regional Arts NSW is a key organiser behind Artstate, an annual regional arts and culture showcase that Bathurst hosted in 2018.
While the decision will not put Arts OutWest at immediate risk, Ms Callinan said a peak regional arts body allows for a more collaborative and innovative approach to the regional arts sector.
"The creative industry sector contributed $111.7 billion to Australia's economy in 2017, which only highlights the value of the arts to this country," she said.
"We work at all levels, not just within the arts, and decision makers need to take that under consideration."
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