Eureka looks to federal funding

The Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka will seek federal funding after Ballarat City Council hinted it would wind-back the amount of money it gave to the home of the famous rebel flag.

Councillors agreed this week to hand over $1,055,752 to run the museum until June 2018, when a feasibility study would be conducted to determine council's future payments.

The museum’s acting chief executive Sarah Masters praised council for committing to a year’s worth of funding, but admitted she was disappointed it was not extended for an extra three years.

Ms Masters is to travel to Canberra next week to meet with federal government agencies in the hope of securing Commonwealth funding support.

“The Eureka story is a national story and we get many interstate visitors,” she said.

“While it’s disappointing we haven’t achieved three years funding, it allows us as an organisation to work with an external consultant to review our procedures.

“It will be great to have an external eye who might bring a different breadth of experience.”

Despite talk of low visitor numbers, Ms Masters remained adamant attendance rates were healthy.

“We attract 62,000 visitors a year, contrasted to the War Memorial in Geelong that gets about 40,000 visitors,” she said.

“We earn 46 per cent of our revenue and council makes up for the rest, but I think it’s beholden on every organisation to diversify its income portfolio.”

All councillors remained silent when they approved the museum’s financial backing during a meeting at the Ballarat Town Hall on Wednesday night.

Located on the historic site of the 1854 Eureka stockade, the museum is home to the rebellion's iconic flag that became symbolic of a young colony asserting its freedom and independence.​

Historian Clare Wright in her seminal book The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka wrote: "The flag ... took its design inspiration from the one thing that united each and every resident of Ballarat: the constellation of the Southern Cross. 

“Those five bright starts in the shape of a kite were the first thing that had alerted immigrants to the existential transformation that occurred when they crossed the line into the southern hemisphere … the Ballarat flat now had a single ensign to rival the huge Union Jack fluttering above the camp."