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Regional arts dancing to a new tune after funding changes

Western Plains App

Lily Plass

09 July 2024, 9:20 PM

Regional arts dancing to a new tune after funding changes Tin Camp in Lightning Ridge. Photo Credit: Sophie Jones

Changes to funding from the Arts and Cultural Funding Programme (ACFP) will soon shake up the creative scene for regional arts.  


The $3 million in annual funding to the Regional Arts Development Organisations (RADOs) is no longer guaranteed in the new NSW budget. 


Prior to the changes in budget, the RADOS were part of a negotiated programme with Create NSW.


Each RADO was assured $200,000 to support projects in the community. 

Now the statewide ACFP will be reduced from fourteen to four funding streams with organisations required to compete for their portion. 


Although the RADOs in Central West NSW see it as an opportunity to reimagine the work they do, some are concerned what this could mean for the future of regional arts.


"We have all become competitors," Alicia Leggett CEO of Orana Arts said. 


"There are a lot of unknowns. We don't know how much money is in the pool."


"The government has told us they are really committed to the RADO network but that's just in word. There's nothing really cementing that," Ms Leggett said. 


The ACFP will now also be streamlined from fourteen funding groups to four which leaves questions open as to who will fall into which funding group.  


"We fall in the criteria for the multi-year funding programme. A smaller organisation won't," Ms Leggett said. 


Nonetheless, many artists see it as a time to draw up a new and better plan. 


"We can actually become more innovative in our programming because it's freed us from the constraints of just having a core," Ms Leggett said.

Orana Arts' Alicia Leggett with writer Sharon Bonthuys of Narromine in June 2024.


The current funding contract only supports core services, such as office costs, wages, and travel but does not include workshops artist fees, and extra staffing. 


Kylie Shead, CEO of Arts Outwest, said she welcomes the changes. 


Ms Shead said she sees the funding reform as an opportunity to come up with new programmes and partner with other RADOs, such as Outback Arts. 


"We're looking at developing some new programmes."


"We're all kind of hoping there'll be more positive opportunities open to us." 


"Moving forward from the four-year negotiated contracts and partnership agreement, of course, brings a lot of questions," Jamie-Lea Trindall, CEO of Outback Arts said. 


"The history between Create NSW and the regional arts development network has been really positive."


"Currently, they fund our core business, but they know we can deliver more than that." 


"I don't see a that the changes to logistics around how our core funding occurs will change anything negatively about the way we do business with artists in our region other than stronger support and partnerships” Ms Trindall said.


One thing the RADOs agree upon is that there are still many questions left open about the conditions for funding. 


"We won't really know until we see the guidelines ourselves," Ms Shead said.