15/05/2014 - 12:54

Arts budget steady, but some costs cut

15/05/2014 - 12:54


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Arts budget steady, but some costs cut
DANGER: Henry Boston says static funding is putting small and medium arts bodies at risk. (Photo: Attila Csaszar)

The culture and arts sector has not emerged unscathed from last week’s state budget as the government seeks to keep the accounts in the black.

The government has kept its planned total investment in the sector static (see chart) while the budget (excluding Royalties for Regions funding) has decreased by $2.1 million, to $127.3 million.

The financials also reveal a $16 million blow out on planned expenditure for the current financial year.

The government plans to invest $130.5 million in total over 2014-15 and has outlined several initiatives to extract value from its investment.

However, it’s also hoping to reduce the cost of delivering services by 8.6 per cent, which would translate into savings of $14.6 million.

The decreased expenses will mainly come from reducing employee benefits by $2.4 million, cutting grants and subsidies by $1.5 million, and slashing non-essential supplies and services by $4.9 million.

Chamber of Arts and Culture WA executive director Henry Boston said it was a disappointing outcome for the industry, given its minimal funding.

“We have a concern about the arts budget as an overall part of the total state budget spend – it was just under one per cent ten years ago it’s now near enough to 0.45 per cent,” Mr Boston said.

Mr Boston also said he was concerned about in the increasing proportion of funding coming from LotteryWest, which rises to more than 13 per cent in forward estimates for 2017-18.

He said such reliance on uncertain funding streams could put smaller organisations at risk.

The budget earmarked slightly more than $33.1 million for an asset investment program, of which $21 million would be spent on planning for the new $428.3 million state museum, due to open in 2020.

It has also retained the $24 million allocation to a Regional Arts Centre Sustainability initiative intended to build strong and vibrant regional communities announced in last year’s budget.

Improving the value of the state’s screen industry has been pitched as a major future goal.

In the 2012-13 financial year, the value of productions to receive funding from ScreenWest was calculated at $37.4 million.

That represented a return on investment of $8.14 for every ScreenWest dollar.

The government wants to increase the value of the industry to $48.9 million in the 2014-15 financial year.

To help achieve that it has earmarked $2 million to support ScreenWest’s Production Attraction Program, which is intended to encourage local businesses and creative talent to initiate production projects.

Interestingly, if the target of increasing the value of film, television and digital media production supported by ScreenWest were achieved, it would actually represent a lower return on investment.

That’s because the nature of projects likely to be financed in the coming financial year are expected to be of lower production budgets.

The government has also reported significant savings made from the early termination of the Museum of Modern Art exhibition at the end of last year.

The series was intended to include six exhibitions, but the Art Gallery of WA cut the program short after the third.

That decision will take the costs of Art Gallery services down from $15.3 million this financial year (which was $2.9 million higher than budgeted) to under $10 million.




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