City of Ballarat says there's no issues with its "stringent" grant processes, after volunteers of long-running arts events expressed fear vital grants would be harder to access following one major event's failure.
Ballarat's Organs of the Goldfields will reach its 25th year in 2020, and has a significant and diverse program on the way to match the milestone.
Assistant director Judy Houston confirmed they had run at a loss earlier this year for only the second time in its history, but the event would persevere.
She said they had received "fabulous" support from council in previous years, and had been advised council was likely not fund them in future due to a priority of seeding funding for new events. The Organs of the Goldfields received a reduced $15,000 grant from council for this year's event.
"It takes time to establish a reputation," Ms Houston said. "But we're not dying at all.
"We've usually managed to put aside a couple of grand and we build up, and bail ourselves out if we need to ... but that's just how you have to operate in classical music."
"We always try and pay the musicians fairly."
Ms Houston said the ticket prices for their events were purposely kept low, despite the calibre of international performers, because they "wanted to bring music to the region, as people can't afford to go to Melbourne and pay $80 for a ticket".
The Biennale of Australian Art, which was held in September to November 2018, received a $170,000 grant from City of Ballarat and $25,000 in-kind support from the council, with Visit Ballarat a major partner. Administrators currently total debt of $473,686.
City of Ballarat confirmed it had reviewed its grant processes in the wake of the collapse of BOAA, but said it found no 'significant' issues in its grant program.
"Our governance and contractual processes are stringent and robust for all grants applications and a review of the grant application process in the wake of BOAA's collapse showed there were no significant issues in our processes," a media statement from City of Ballarat's director of development and planning Angelique Lush said.
"Council's grant program is designed to provide seed funding to help events become self-sustainable in the long term."
When it comes to Organs of the Goldfields, Ms Houston said writing grant applications for state and federal government art funding was now "a professional job these days". They hope to appoint someone to the board with experience in that area, as they can't afford to pay someone for that role.
She said she didn't feel like different events were in competition for grant funding, and said it would have been good to see BOAA be financially-successful and "part of Ballarat's cultural life" after council support, like the separate and successful Ballarat International Foto Biennale.
Ms Lush said that ultimately it wasn't council's role, "nor is it financially responsible to our ratepayers, to continually subsidise events in an ongoing manner".
"For example, we have funded Organs of the Ballarat Goldfields for over a decade so Council officers have now been working closely with organisers to help them develop into a self-sustainable model," Ms Lush said.
Ms Lush batted away suggestions the large-scale financial failure of BOAA would mean other events would miss out on cash.
"Every event is assessed on its own merit to determine the benefit it will deliver for the ratepayers ... Good events delivering good community outcomes will be supported by Council," she said.