Arts creates sparks
“As of 2013, our funding will be cut to zero,” says Sian Torrington, arts facilitator at HVCA, a longstanding arts and culture organisation based at Farsite Gallery in Petone.
Hutt City’s deputy mayor, Councillor David Bassett, replies, “I’m sorry, it’s just factually incorrect,” adding that he was alarmed to see a memorandum from HVCA circulating claiming the same and asking supporters to submit letters.
However, it’s clear the city will need another $59,000 to keep the same level of funding. A recent review of arts funding commissioned by council recommended, among many things, that an arts advisor position be established to liaison between the council and the community facilitating arts and culture activities. The report also recommended that HVCA continue to receive $50,000 per year, which makes up the bulk of its $80,000 annual budget, and is used to administer the city’s arts and culture policy. At a June 21 meeting of council’s Finance and Audit Committee, it was resolved to establish the new arts advisor position in budget year 2013/2014, costing $59,000 per year, using money from from the arts and culture budget. Councillors also decided to maintain existing funding for HVCA and other arts groups, but only through 2012/2013. No decisions were made for future allocations to arts groups past 2013, but an officer’s report recommended that a new contestable system for funding groups be established and HVCA apply from that pool, which would have $30,000 after paying for the arts advisor.
“I can see if you look at it in a particular way, it does look like council is going to chop that fund,” Bassett conceded. However, he says councillors have asked officers to seek additional funding to fill the $59,000 gap and continue supporting both the addition of an arts advisor and ongoing financial support for HVCA.
Torrington says a salaried position shouldn’t come from discretionary funds like the arts budget, and Councillor Ross Jamieson agrees: “I opposed it at the time. If that has any impact on money going out for practical projects just to pay for a bureaucrat, worthy as it is, it’s not right. We should try and do both.”
What is in agreement is the need for an arts advisor. “All the community groups are on side with getting the arts advisor,” says Jamieson, who also chairs the arts and culture steering group.
“When you pay for coordinators part time,” he said of HVCA and Hutt Art Society, “Some of the corporate types will ask why the Devil are you paying for two different organisations that seem to be doing the same thing?”