Northern Rivers hit hard by arts funding chop

THE highly acclaimed Northern Rivers Performing Arts (NORPA) did not avoid the chop in funding from the Australia Council for the Arts.

>> The arts: a soft target for slash and burn funding cuts

The Lismore based company was one of the 60 small to medium arts organisations in the country to lose their funding.

Many from the arts community have said they believe that these cuts will have serious consequences for the arts and culture in general in Australia.

Arts Northern Rivers chief executive officer and regional arts development officer Peter Wood expressed deep concern about the impact the recent funding cuts will have in the region.

"Last week the Australia Council for the Arts announced funding outcomes for those companies seeking four-year funding," Mr Wood said.

"The announcement outlined the devastating reality that many of our country's finest small to medium companies were either cut or unsuccessful in their applications.

"For our region Northern Rivers Performing Arts (NORPA) learnt that their application for four year funding had been unsuccessful. While this result isn't a fatal blow to the company, the wider arts community and audiences in our region will feel its effect.

"Four year funding would have given our peak performing arts company the opportunity to grow their Generator program, which has been responsible for locally produced and presented work such as the acclaimed Railway Wonderland.

Norpa's production, Railway Wonderland. Photo Contributed Grant MacIntyre Photography
Norpa's production, Railway Wonderland. Photo Contributed Grant MacIntyre Photography Grant MacIntyre Photography

"Without this support, opportunities for local performers, producers and arts workers are significantly diminished. And for local audiences it means our chance to hear regional stories told by regional voices is reduced.

"Recently NORPA's artistic director Julian Louis eloquently outlined the important role regional companies play in the cultural ecology of Australia. Rather than cultural deserts waiting for city-based companies to populate, regions such as ours are celebrating and producing quality work that is enthusiastically embraced by local audiences - NORPA's sold out four-week season of Railway Wonderland proves the point.

"These funding cuts not only threaten this work; they impact on our community's ability to engage in cultural product reflective of our regional experience.

"We see these funding cuts as a direct consequence of the Federal Government's decision to remove $105 million dollars over four years from the Australia Council and siphon it into a new funding program.

"While a third of these funds were returned to the Australia Council by the new Arts Minister Mitch Fifield, it clearly hasn't been enough to prevent the carnage being felt by so many of our finest small to medium companies.

"Arts Northern Rivers feels these cuts will have wide ranging and long lasting consequences on the cultural health of regional Australia.

"Immediate effects include potential job loses and a review of artistic programs. The long-term consequences will impact on all levels of our cultural discourse and most disturbingly result in a diminished regional voice."