Arts funding in doubt for people living in the bush Opportunities

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					                                                                               Tuesday 25 March 2008

                       Arts funding in doubt for people living in the bush

Opportunities for people living across regional and remote Australia to see, hear and be part of the
arts would be at risk if the Federal Government were to cut its commitment to the Regional Arts
Fund, the President of Regional Arts Australia, Suzie Haslehurst, says.

“Thirty-six percent of Australians live in regional, rural and remote parts of the country, often
many hours from major service centres,” Ms Haslehurst says.

“The Regional Arts Fund has existed since 1996 and is the only arts funding program which is
specifically directed at those people.”

“In November, Regional Arts Australia welcomed the election announcement by the then Shadow
Arts Minister, Peter Garrett, that a Labor Government ‘would contribute a further $10 million over
four years for Australians to participate in cultural activities in the places where they live’.”

“We call on the Rudd Government to back its commitment to people living in the bush by
maintaining the Regional Arts Fund.”

“Again and again the evidence shows that grassroots cultural activities add greatly to community
well-being and give children and young people experiences beyond their daily horizons.”

“The arts are also an identified attractor for small towns in keeping doctors and other professional
people and then retaining them,” Ms Haslehurst says.

“The arts are a great way of communicating important health messages and, as an activity, directly
improve health status,” says Gordon Gregory, executive director of the National Rural Health
Alliance, Australia’s peak non-Government organisation for rural and remote health.

“It would be a substantial setback for arts-in-health in rural and regional areas if the Regional Arts
Fund were cut”, Mr Gregory says.

From 2004 until 2007, the Regional Arts Fund supported 1,424 projects with grants totalling just
over $9 million, employed 3,700 artists, involved 89,000 participants and attracted audiences of
1.047 million people.

A nationally accredited program providing basic training in business and event management skills
is also supported through the Regional Arts Fund. An extension of this program has just been
trialled successfully in two Indigenous communities.

The Regional Arts Fund expires at the end of June 2008 and Regional Arts Australia has asked the
Federal Government to continue this fund at the existing level of a $4.2 million per year.

Further information: Vivienne Skinner 0411 206 224

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