We must do more to support our artists

Suzanne Donisthorpe, Castlemaine

While the people of Mount Alexander are grateful for the $6 million for the State Festival and the other $6 million for the Castlemaine Art Museum granted by the state government – I note that not a single dollar of that money is actually going to artists.

It is all for building improvements which are all fine and good – but the money will go to the building industry – which has flourished for years even during the pandemic when the world decided to renovate.

Artists on the other hand have languished with no Job keeper and no gigs.

So what if the state government or council could find a mere two million dollars to be distributed to the actual arts community? I’ll list them – Fringe Festival, Lot 19, Arts Open, The Newstead Arts Hub and the Red Shed Arts Workshop, C Doc, The Jazz Festival, The Newstead Folk Festival, CASPA, Artpuff, The Cascade Gallery, The Edge Gallery, Castlemaine Press, Castlemaine Clay, MainFM – I’m sure there are others.

If each of those organisations got some real funding – they would really thrive and the results would be transformational.

These organisations struggle on with nothing – or perhaps with a pitiful hard won grant of a couple of thousand dollars and yet have created the enviable reputation we enjoy of living in a vibrant arts community.

I know just how much more vibrant it could be if there was money to pay actual artists and arts administrators to keep the wheels turning.

Giving wages to actual creators would also help with the massive housing crisis we face here as many of the people staring down the barrel of having to leave are the very heart and soul of the arts community.

They are the people doing it very hard and if they leave they take their creative input with them and we are left all the poorer.

The arts aren’t just about bringing tourists to town, although it is a major factor in why Mount Alexander is so attractive as a destination.

The arts are not just there to bring money to small business and the accommodation industry – it’s about the primary producers – the artists themselves – who are always on the bottom of the ladder when it comes to funding.

So if maybe the state government or council could spend a fraction of the money that might be spent on a new roundabout somewhere – and give it to the artists instead.

I promise you the money will be greatly appreciated and the community will blossom.