Ballarat City councillors have stressed an independent review of the arts, culture and tourism portfolio is to create more efficiencies.
Speaking at Wednesday night’s council meeting, Councillor Daniel Moloney also said there was “no attack on arts and culture in the city”.
“We are not interested in this. We are making sure everything runs in an efficient way,” Cr Moloney said.
Councillors adopted a recommendation the council enter into new service agreements with the Art Gallery of Ballarat, Ballarat Regional Tourism and the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (MADE), with all three current three-year agreements running out on June 30.
All up, the agreements currently cost the council $6.2 million annually.
However, MADE’s new agreement will only be for 12 months, with a feasibility study commissioned to look at its future council funding.
Visit Ballarat’s event funding budget will also be reallocated in full to the council.
“The feasibility study is a way of starting the conversation about better support for MADE,” Cr Moloney said.
Cr Mark Harris also said there was “no attack on the arts, just a starting place”.
“I have a close association with the gallery and I know how hard those staff work,” Cr Harris said.
He also said this was the start of a conversation with MADE.
“We will support it and move on from there.”
Cr Grant Tillett said it was “not an end motion, it’s a beginning motion”.
“There will be full-scale negotiations with what will happen,” Cr Tillett said.
“Ballarat is becoming a very major events precinct and I am looking forward now to very quickly seeing development of a blueprint for a special events group.”
Cr Belinda Coates said she would “strongly, strongly state our commitment to the arts and culture across the city”.
“But we need to be accountable with our budget and foster the arts as well,” Cr Coates said.
Council watcher Gary Fitzgerald said he was concerned how the council’s event team would cope with the extra event funding workload.
“There are currently 34 plus events run or assisted by Ballarat Regional Tourism,” Mr Fitzgerald said.
“The two event staff at the Visitor Information Staff are the experts in their field. Their expertise and experience may be lost if this change goes ahead.”