Representatives from NSW councils leading the pack in the delivery of arts and culture programs to their communities will gather in Sydney next week to learn which of their number will take out a coveted Leo Kelly OAM Arts and Culture Award.
Local Government NSW (LGNSW) President Linda Scott said the councils in the running this year were Bathurst Regional, Bayside, Campbelltown, Canada Bay, Cessnock, Cumberland, Georges River, Mosman, Parramatta, Snowy Valleys and Wollongong councils.
“These awards honour the late, long-serving Blacktown Councillor Leo Kelly OAM, who passed away in 2017 after an illustrious career as a passionate and dedicated champion of his community and the arts,” Cr Scott said.
“Leo was instrumental in creating Blacktown Arts Centre and was a great supporter of the arts through the Blacktown City Art Prize and scholarships for local artists.
“He saw art and cultural programs as about so much more than the creativity of individual communities – they helped define the future communities seek to create for themselves and their children.
“I was honoured to serve alongside Leo on the LGNSW Board before he died and I take enormous joy in seeing his legacy marked each year by the highest-calibre nominations, which seem to get more and more impressive each year.”
The winners of the Leo Kelley OAM Awards will be announced at a Gala Ceremony at Sydney’s Swissotel on Thursday August 1.
“Councils are key provider of arts and culture in NSW, contributing one third of the total investment in arts and culture in NSW – up to $600 million per year,” Cr Scott said.
“Local government also owns and manages more than 600 museums and galleries as well as keeping places, theatres and performing arts centres, making it a major player in the sector.
“So, while arts and cultural programs will always provide social activity and enrichment, they also deliver very real economic value to communities, as well build a strong sense of identity and cohesion.
“That holds true whether we are talking about music, performance, sculpture, painting, fine, decorative and street arts, festivals or other live events.
“Arts and culture also has a strong connection with the natural and built environment and other industries such as local and regional tourism.
“This is why it is so important to recognise and celebrate councils that have shown leadership and innovation in the field and helped build the capacity of the arts and cultural sector.”
Last year’s award winners included Bland Shire, Wollondilly Shire and Port Macquarie-Hastings councils, while City of Parramatta Council was Highly Commended.
“Given the scale and diversity of council-run arts and culture initiatives in NSW, I imagine the 2019 awards will be hotly contested and I look forward to finding out the winner next Thursday in Local Government Week,” Cr Scott said.
The Leo Kelly OAM Arts and Culture Awards are sponsored by Service NSW.