Call for greater support for local arts and culture

This week’s announcement of NSW Government funding for local council arts and culture project recipients recognises the important role local government plays in supporting the sector, but more needs to be done urgently to help it recover.

Local Government NSW (LGNSW) President Linda Scott welcomed the Local Government Authorities Arts and Culture Program funding announcement, which will provide $6.6 million to support a number of councils’ arts and culture programs across the State.

Cr Scott, who is speaking at a government inquiry into the State’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on local arts, music and nightlife economy today, said councils were a prime supporter of the sector at a grassroots level.

“Councils are at the frontline of driving a locally led recovery for their communities in the face of this pandemic, the latest in a string of challenges that have hit their communities in the past 12 months,” she said.

“This includes the support they provide for local businesses and groups such as cultural organisations, artists and tourism events, which employ thousands of people across NSW’s 128 Local Government Areas.

“The per capita investment by councils in arts, culture and creative industries has increased by 11 per cent in the past decade, which is in contrast to an increase of 4 per cent by state governments and a decrease of 19 per cent by the federal government.[1]

“NSW councils spend more than $500 million a year on arts and culture, which is on par with what the State Government spends.

“In fact, a recent census estimated about 75 per cent of small and medium cultural institutions such as museums and galleries rely on local government as their primary source of funding.

“This week’s funding announcement by the NSW Government is a crucial shot-in-the-arm for the councils that successfully applied for grants under the program.”

Cr Scott said LGNSW would be pushing for even greater NSW Government support for councils so they could provide more help for their struggling arts and culture sector.

“LGNSW has consulted with councils across the State and has identified 10 priority areas where the NSW Government can help us in a COVID-19 arts and culture recovery,” she said.

“These range from greater investment, including urgent economic kick-start funding to ensure local artists, creative industries and cultural facilities are well positioned to re-open as soon as possible, to a coordinated recovery strategy between State and local governments.

“Councils are best placed to roll out a quick response to help local artists and cultural services overcome the challenges of the past 12 months created by the perfect storm of coronavirus, drought and bushfires.”

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