Canberra’s arts community has welcomed a lifeline this week, as the ACT Government commits $1.07 million to the struggling sector.
Nine local arts organisations will share in the total, including the Belconnen Arts Centre (BAC) which will receive $550,000 to activate its recently expanded facility.
BAC artistic director and CEO Monika McInerney said she was delighted by the announcement, after a rough year on the industry.
“Given the arts sector, I would have to say globally but particularly in this region, has been hit so hard, it’s so important to have government support,” she said.
“One day people were employed doing what they do best and the next day the carpet had been pulled out from underneath them – it’s dramatic.
“We are so fortunate in the ACT to have a government that understands the importance of the arts and how it affects the health and wellbeing of both the economy and the community. This funding is a lifeline and support to people in the community.”
BAC has recently completed a $15 million renovation, including new theatre dressing rooms, bathrooms and a theatre space to fit up to 400 patrons.
Ms McInerny said the funding would help staff to open the new venue to the public, following uncertainties during the pandemic.
ACT Arts, Creative Industries and Cultural Events Minister, Gordon Ramsay, announced the funding yesterday (Wednesday 24 June) and said it was imperative in restoring the Canberra community.
“Canberra is lucky to have such a strong arts community that is supported by some wonderful arts organisations,” he said.
“These organisations support our artists and give our community really great places to view art, watch performances and engage in arts programs. Without them, we wouldn’t have such a strong artistic community that extends across every region of the ACT.
“This support will ensure these organisations can continue to employ Canberrans, support our artists and remain an important part of the fabric of our community.”
Other organisations who will share in the funding include the ACT Writers Centre ($10,032), Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres ($187,777) and Canberra Potters Society ($80,690).
Canberra Potters Society CEO Richard Thomas said the funding would help the community organisation “tick over” until they go back to business as usual.
“Tentatively we have pencilled in 20 July as the beginning of Term 3,” he said.
“But previously we were offering classes seven days a week and could hold about 14-15 people per class – now we are looking at working at half capacity and possibly just breaking even.”
The Federal Government announced a $250 million funding package to the arts industry on Thursday, however Mr Thomas said he wasn’t sure it would benefit his organisation.
“My experience on a federal level is that it’s not always for the community organisations, usually for the big end of town,” he said.
“Apart from JobKeeper we have received no assistance at that level.”
Mr Thomas said he felt fortunate that Canberra had a keen arts community and audience, as well as a supportive Terriroty government.
“We are very thankful we have a supportive arts minister and that of the ACT communit;, we are so blessed to have a hungry arts audience,” he said.
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