The City of Ballarat has reaffirmed its commitment to the arts after some members of the creative community expressed confusion at council’s annual arts funding budget.
City of Ballarat development and planning director Angelique Lush told The Courier the council had allocated more than $15 million to arts and culture over the past four years, equating to around $3.75 million per annum.
However, background papers for Ballarat’s Creative City Strategy revealed six per cent of ratepayer revenue had been spent on arts and culture in past years. But according to the 2017 budget, ratepayer revenue was slightly more than $100 million, equating to a $6 million spend on arts and culture.
City of Ballarat chief executive Justine Linley responded to queries about the arts and culture funding discrepancies, explaining the Creative City Strategy included a broader range of ‘creative endeavours’ than what may traditionally be considered ‘arts and culture’.
“There is an approach we are trying to make with the Creative City Strategy which is a recognition that creativity in all its forms and innovation is really valuable - that arts component is really important,” she said.
“What we are hopeful of seeing is that our Creative City Strategy looks at an economy and a community that is powered by STEAM - science, technology, engineering, arts and maths… engineering, that is a creative endeavour too, it just looks at things in a different way.
“It is including things like the work our economic development team do with our electronic gaming industry. That is a growing sector for us in augmented reality and virtual reality. We have people working in those spaces who are incredibly creative, but their tools are technology.
“At the same time we have the arts and culture team working with our visual artists in the backspace gallery and our public arts program with funding for sculptural pieces but also things like the mural on Main Road.”
What we are hopeful of seeing is that our Creative City Strategy looks at an economy and a community that is powered by STEAM.Justine Linley, City of Ballarat CEO
City of Ballarat officers are working to create a draft of the Creative City Strategy following community feedback on the draft papers.
It is due to be released in late 2018.
Meanwhile, City of Ballarat has committed $3.9 million to arts and culture in the 2018/19 budget.
“Arts and culture infiltrates a lot of different aspects of council which is why it is quite hard to draw it together (under one funding banner),” Ms Linley said.