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Time to Close the Cultural Funding Gap

Release Date: 26/02/2015
A new report revealing the huge disparity in arts funding between East and West Sydney has called on the next New South Wales government to relocate the Powerhouse Museum to Western Sydney and commit $300 million in funding for cultural infrastructure in the region.
The report: Building Western Sydney’s Cultural Arts Economy – a key to Sydney’s success commissioned by The Sydney Business Chamber, along with Parramatta, Liverpool City and Penrith City Councils examines access to cultural attractions and infrastructure in Sydney’s West.
“Western Sydney represents 10% of Australia’s population yet it only receives 1% of Australian Government Arts Program funding, this is not good enough and now is the time to make changes,” said David Borger, Western Sydney Director of the Sydney Business Chamber.
“Our report highlights the gap between the Sydney CBD and Western Sydney. New analysis by Deloitte Access Economics shows in the Sydney CBD, the NSW Government invested on average $63 per capita. In Western Sydney the average investment is just $15 per capita.
“Cultural Arts in Western Sydney has been grossly underfunded since the region first developed. If we are going to shift the needle on jobs we need our Western Sydney CBDs to become interesting places that can attract a smart workforce.
“Cultural investment creates communities and attracts businesses. Increased arts funding has the potential to transform the region, it is a good long term business and social investment for the Government to ensure Western Sydney is a place where people not only work but also want to live,” said Mr Borger.
Currently, most successful Cultural Arts programs that sustain Western Sydney’s arts industry are primarily funded by local Councils.
Lord Mayor of Parramatta, Cr Scott Lloyd, said increased arts funding would help bring major cultural events and facilities closer to where most Sydneysiders live and allow for upgrades to venues such as the Riverside Theatres.
“Our growing reputation as a dynamic and creative regional city is based on venues such as Riverside Theatres, creative production spaces such as Parramatta Artists’ Studios, Connect Studios and major events including Loy Krathong, Parramasala, Winterlight and our expanded role as a venue for Sydney Festival,” said Cr Lloyd.
“We welcome the State Infrastructure Strategy’s support for an expanded arts hub in Parramatta and look forward to working with the Government to deliver this exciting vision for Western Sydney.
Mayor of Penrith, Cr Ross Fowler OAM said, “Each year around 350,000 people come through the doors of Penrith’s cultural facilities, including 400 students each week at our Conservatorium of Music. Penrith has the only conservatorium in NSW whose programs are not funded by government.  Our students travel from across Western Sydney for their musical education. This alone highlights a great inequality in arts funding to the west.
“We have The Joan Sutherland Centre as well as our regional gallery and they’re successful despite the lack of funding. This is because of the passion and commitment of the arts community and staff behind them.
“There is enormous potential for Penrith to take a small investment and realise huge results. The North and South West growth centres are generating new demand for events and culture. We are the furthest from the Sydney CBD and need our own programs to grow,” said Cr Fowler.
Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Ned Mannoun said, “The City of Liverpool is rich with heritage and has significant cultural and arts activity. But support is sadly waning; increased funding would provide a boost to the programming capacity of Casula Powerhouse and surrounding arts projects.
“We want the Liverpool CBD to be a thriving, interesting place. To attract more jobs we need to rethink the role of our CBD and make it part of a creative and innovative economy. We are lifting our horizons and government needs to join us,” said Mr Mannoun.
Key recommendations:
1.    Relocation of the Powerhouse Museum to Western Sydney
2.    Commitment of an extra $300 million for cultural infrastructure (buildings) in Western Sydney over the next five years (20152020)
3.    That Arts NSW doubles the current amount of program funding provided to Western Sydney through its Arts and Cultural Development Program (ACDP) ($3million additional per year).
4.    Fund investigations into the merits of establishing a permanent external performing arts venue (i.e., music bowl) in Western Sydney
5.    As a first priority, co-fund (with relevant Councils) the planning and development of the redevelopments of new large scale cultural art venues in the four Regional City Centres
Media contact: David Borger 0408 239 262 or Kate Bryant 0424 186 367

Read the report: Building Western Sydney’s Cultural Arts Economy – a key to Sydney’s success here - See more at:
 View a copy of the report here
Read the report: Building Western Sydney’s Cultural Arts Economy – a key to Sydney’s success here - See more at:

Read the report: Building Western Sydney’s Cultural Arts Economy – a key to Sydney’s success here - See more at:

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