Last night, the Chamber of Arts and Culture and the Department of Culture and the Arts, presented a briefing on the impact of the new State Budget. While the focus was primarily on the arts, rather than culture, funding, there were some points of interest for those interested in developing arts content based on history, and for history practitioners and memory institutions. The Minister acknowledged that CACWA and the Department may have differing views, but he felt that this was all to the good, as it helped to raise the profile of arts and culture generally.
First and foremost, of course, is the planning for the new Perth Museum, a flagship for the WA Museum and the Museum Board. Planning is going well, and advertising for contracts for a manager for the construction phase is expected in the latter half of this calendar year. The budget sum is still set at $428 million, and has not changed in over three years, so it will be interesting to see whether there is room for expansion due to changing technologies and simple CPI increases. There is increased infrastructure for various state collecting institutions, will start to appear in 2015/2016. In the meantime, stage 2 of the Alexander Library Building roof replacement is continuing, new wet stores are being constructed for the Museum, and AGWA is to get new lighting in the exhibition areas.
Regional Arts has been promised a fantastic $24 million boost, mostly for touring programs, but as history is often a fundamental source of inspiration for artists, playwrights and other arts practitioners, this could be an interesting opportunity to promote history awareness across regional WA. Two million is promised in the coming financial year, with the remainder over the following years. DCA and the Department of Regional Development are in discussions about how the money should be targeted, and the Minister (and we) hope that the arts and culture communities will be involved in the discussions. We will keep our ears and eyes open for any forums or discussion groups – buzzwords to look for are the Regional Arts and Culture Blueprint, and the Cultural Value Quality Framework.
The Minister acknowledged that the proportion of the budget set aside for arts and culture has declined over recent years, but was keen to identify additional sources of funding, such as LotteryWest and the Royalty for Regions project.
As always, the real impact and implication of this Budget are yet to be fully discussed. Estimates discussions are always fascinating, and it is up to us to contact the Minister, Shadow Minister and Greens Arts and Culture spokesperson to flag anything that we believe to be of concern. Please contact the History Council office for anything that you believe we should advocate for, or the Parliamentary members directly.