Bracks backs M.A.D.E - how would you save it?

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Former Victorian premier Steve Bracks has called for Ballarat City Council to further support the under-pressure Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka. 

Mr Bracks, a M.A.D.E patron alongside former Liberal MP Rob Knowles, said he was very confident the institution would succeed with the right budget and support.

“Obviously it needs some more money but it will be very successful long term. I think the investment will pay off,” he said.

A previously confidential financial report, which the City of Ballarat yesterday confirmed was mistakenly published on its website, directly assesses how M.A.D.E has struggled to reach its forecast revenue and contain costs to original budget forecasts. 

Centre director Jane Smith yesterday said in a statement that report was based upon a four-year-old business plan.

Mr Bracks said “it wouldn’t hurt” if the council gave M.A.D.E. more funding to support it during its early stages.

Patron Steve Bracks at M.A.D.E. FILE IMAGE

Patron Steve Bracks at M.A.D.E. FILE IMAGE

“I’m sure council is considering that, as they would any institution under their patronage,” he said.

Mr Bracks compared M.A.D.E to other institutions such as the Melbourne Recital Centre and Australian Centre for the Moving Image, which he said had also struggled initially.

“It’s not surprising. It’s pretty usual with an institution that is re-establishing itself,” he said. 

“The first couple of years are always more difficult; there are establishment costs you have to pay. You start to build your clientele and your customers over a period of time.”

The confidential report on the M.A.D.E finances – published online by the City of Ballarat due to a “clerical error” – was based on a four-year-old Lateral Projects’ business plan, according to Ms Smith.

She said a Ballarat City Council business review from July to September last year had actually determined a more realistic funding base.

“The interim funding of $750,000 was provided while the business review was conducted,” she said.

“There was recognition from the business review that M.A.D.E would require funding of about $1.4 million for the first few years of operation – in line with some other cultural organisations in Ballarat.”

Ms Smith said M.A.D.E’s 2013-14 budget had been significantly reduced from the one in the Lateral Projects’ business plan and was being managed effectively.

“M.A.D.E is in discussions with the council about the budget for 2014-15 and ways of further integrating M.A.D.E into the community of Ballarat.

“M.A.D.E is committed to being a successful local community and regional, state and federal asset.

“For this reason it has wide-ranging local activities and is developing a substantial digital footprint and outreach to the broader Australian community.”

Ms Smith said M.A.D.E had 5200 students booked in already this year, frequently hosted local events including housing forums and art exhibitions, and had already won awards for its educational programs.


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