$100 million fund out of reach of the Gallery says MP

17th June 2017 9:00 AM
Gallery Foundation chair Rod Watters speaks to the crowd at a community meeting to discuss proposed funding cuts to the Grafton Regional Gallery. Gallery Foundation chair Rod Watters speaks to the crowd at a community meeting to discuss proposed funding cuts to the Grafton Regional Gallery. Adam Hourigan

THE State Government's $100 million funding for regional arts is out of reach for the Grafton Regional Gallery for the moment says the Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis.

Mr Gulaptis said the funding, which deputy premier John Barilaro announced during the week, was for capital projects and not recurring expenditure, which was the problem facing the gallery.

Gallery owner the Clarence Valley Council has proposed to cut the gallery's funding by $300,000 in 2018/19 as part of a raft of cuts to services to help it meet State Government guidelines to be fit for the future.

The announcement has sparked an outpouring of support for the gallery including a visit from the CEO of Museums and Galleries NSW, Michael Rolfe, for an emergency meeting on Wednesday.

Mr Gulaptis was at the meeting, which also included Clarence Valley mayor Jim Simmons, senior council staff and the chairman of the Gallery Foundation, Rod Watters.

Mr Gulaptis said the meeting had been productive and Mr Rolfe had made a compelling case for maintaining funding.

"People need to remember a council is not a business,” Mr Gulaptis said. "It's there to deliver services in an effective manner.

"But it must deliver a wide range of services in an efficient manner.”

Mr Gulaptis said the gallery should consider revenue raising activities such as art clasess and charging entry fees for important exhibitions, to defray its running costs.

Meanwhile, the NSW Opposition has attacked the regional fund for its "dog-eat-dog competitive nature” and focusing most of the spend on arts in Sydney.

Opposition arts spokesman Walt Secord pointed out the government had earmarked $600 million for Sydney based project.

He urged the government to change the nature of the program from a bricks and mortar approach to include programs and staff in its remit.