East vs West: arts funding lacking in western Sydney

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WSROC president Barry Calvert is calling on the Premier to properly resource and invest in western Sydney’s arts sector which deserves as much attention and opportunity as metropolitan Sydney.

“For decades, the region’s 2.5 million residents – who make up almost half the population of Greater Sydney – have been making do with less: less access, less infrastructure and less funding,” Cr Calvert said.

His comments follow the state government’s announcement of an historic investment for the Powerhouse in Parramatta, and while a “welcome move” the focus on the Powerhouse Museum “does not amount to investment in Western Sydney’s extraordinary artistic offerings, or in resourcing locally-grown cultural infrastructure”.

Cr Calvert said currently, administration and support of Western Sydney’s arts and cultural centres is overwhelmingly managed by Councils – this includes WSROC’s Blacktown, The Hills and Hawkesbury.

“While state funding has increased in recent years, the majority of this is focused on the relocation of the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta,” he said.

“Despite [this investment] the most recent report on arts funding distribution reflected that our region received just one per cent of Commonwealth arts program funding, and 5.5 % of the state’s cultural arts, heritage and events funding. This, despite the fact that one in 10 Australians live in Western Sydney.

“Meanwhile, an earlier announcement showed resounding state government support for yet another theatre rehabilitation project in inner Sydney.

“For this government to consider ploughing further funding into Eastern Sydney’s arts sector, given the stark contrast of offerings in Western Sydney, is a sobering indication of the extent to which inequitable policy is applied to our region.

“The fact remains that investment in Western Sydney’s local arts and cultural economies is seriously in deficit.

“The Premier’s recently-avowed focus on Western Sydney is an opportunity for the state government to apply a mature approach to properly resourcing the region. It’s time to ensure our communities are prioritised as deserving of the same level of opportunity and access that is available to other Sydneysiders.”

Picture: Blacktown City Council Beats Festival.

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