Budget problems: council keeps silent on M.A.D.E uncertainty

UNCERTAINTY continues about the budget problems at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka, with the City of Ballarat failing to respond to questions on the issue yesterday.

The museum exceeded its initial $750,000 budget for the 2013-14 year by December, with low revenue blamed in a City of Ballarat report that will be tabled tomorrow night. 

M.A.D.E director Jane Smith has defended operations, saying the centre was on track to meet a revised budget. 

The City of Ballarat’s Regional Capital Plan asked for an extra $400,000 in recurrent funding for the facility, on top of the $750,000 that will be provided by the council each year.

The plan specifically states the facility is one of national significance and requires “ongoing investment to maintain the relevance of its exhibits”.

Tourism Victoria chief executive officer Leigh Harry said the state body worked in partnership with Ballarat Regional Tourism and the local tourism industry to increase awareness of the region and to increase visitors to attractions such as M.A.D.E. 

“We encourage attractions to work closely with their regional tourism bodies to maximise their marketing and promotional spend to generate exposure and visitation,” Mr Harry said. 

“The Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (M.A.D.E) is an important attraction to the Ballarat region, as it tells the story of Australian democracy on the site of the Eureka Stockade. 

“It complements other well-known Ballarat tourist attractions, presenting other options for visitors when visiting Ballarat. 

“Given the 160th anniversary of the Eureka Stockade later this year, the visitor experience provided by M.A.D.E should provide a great platform for understanding and celebrating this history in the region.”

Mr Harry did not answer questions The Courier posed to him, including if it was common for major attractions such as this to go through a struggling set-up phase during its first few years. 

The Courier also asked Tourism Victoria what type of strategies an attraction like M.A.D.E should have in place to attract as many visitors as possible, and whether there were particular strategies that could be used for attractions such as M.A.D.E to make them more efficient. Mr Harry did not answer the questions. 

The City of Ballarat also failed to answer a series of questions regarding its role in funding M.A.D.E operations.

nicole.cairns@fairfaxmedia.com.au

matthew.dixon@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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