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WASO on the lookout for more brass

THE West Australian Symphony may have missed out on $8 million in Federal funding for its new home but not all hope is lost.

Support from the City of Perth and the State Government is assured and, according to the Australian Business Arts Foundation, there are opportunities in the private sector.

WASO applied for the Federal Government grant in addition to an $8 million grant from the State Government and $4 million grant and land from the City of Perth.

City of Perth Lord Mayor Dr Peter Natrass said the city was adamant that the appropriate place for the city’s number one orchestra was in the city’s number one concert hall.

“We’ve played a leading role and we couldn’t be more supportive,” he said.

“We think that it’s totally inappropriate for it to become part of the university.

“We’ve lobbied State Government and we’ve lobbied every Federal member in WA.”

WASO chief executive officer Catherine Ferrari said she would continue to lobby the Federal Government and the State Government.

“There’s bi-partisan support for the project,” she said.

“We’ve already been asked to go back [to apply for funding again] and Senator Kemp has already agreed to a meeting in August.”

Despite this positive feedback from the Federal level, the uncertainty was taking its toll on the organisation, Ms Ferrari said.

“It’s difficult for us but we have the support of the State and the City of Perth, and that’s critical,” she said.

Ms Ferrari conceded that, if WASO was unsuccessful in securing Federal funding in the next budget, it would have to consider a different strategy.

“ I think there’s too much support but we would have to look at a new strategy if we didn’t get it,” she said.”

However, Ms Ferrari remains steadfast in her belief that the Federal Government has a vital role to play in the future of WASO.

“WASO is central to the cultural life of Perth. We also provide a service for the ballet and the opera,” Ms Ferrari said.

“It’s also our 75th anniversary next year.

“We haven’t had a definite no yet … the door hasn’t been slammed in our face.

“I know it’s been an incredibly tough budget for the Federal Government to put together. I hope it will be a bit better in the coming years.”

Culture and the Arts Minister Sheila McHale said the re-location of WASO was a Federal Government responsibility

“The Federal Government is trying to abrogate its responsibility to assist our orchestra in finding suitable accommodation following the relocation of the parent body, the ABC, which made no provision for the needs of the orchestra, Ms McHale said.

“The Federal Government has known about the need to relocate the orchestra since 1998 when the ABC made their plans to relocate known.”

There are also opportunities for a organisation such as WASO to pursue in the private sector, according to Australian Business Arts Foundation (WA) manager Henry Boston.

“I think the private sector should be involved, there are opportunities for private enterprise,” Mr Boston said.

“It would be a great opportunity for WASO to make a business case.

“It would probably require the WASO board to think more laterally.”

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