Independent Member for Indi, Cathy McGowan AO, believes the Federal Government decision to cut arts funding will have significant negative impacts. Ms McGowan said the Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival missing out on more than $200,000 in the revised Australia Council for the Arts funding arrangement would pressure organisers to seek other funding avenues.
“This is a disappointing outcome. The Wangaratta Jazz and Blues Festival is renowned internationally and organisers run a very professional event. It deserves financial support to ensure it continues delivering significant benefits for the region,” Ms McGowan said. “The Festival board has my full support when seeking funding to help deliver this event.”
In October 2015, Ms McGowan tabled a report in Parliament titled The cultural economy and Indi. A case study on the Wangaratta Jazz Festival showed the event was worth more than $1.6 million annually to the Wangaratta economy.
“The cultural economy is growing each year and is critical to the future of North East Victoria, employing people, providing entertainment and supporting our lifestyle,” Ms McGowan said. “The role of Arts continues to boost tourism, as the reputation of the area as an arts destination grows. Arts, culture and heritage are viewed as amenities to improve our quality of life and attract people and retain them in the area.”
This economy was highlighted at the inaugural Indi Summit in October 2015. The need was identified to establish an Indi Arts Advisory Group. Ms McGowan said this group would be a strong advocate for the arts sector in the North East, and capitalise on the potential to grow festivals and events for the benefit of local communities.
Ms McGowan looks forward to attending the Jazz Festival in late October.
Not all North East arts programs missed out on funding. Ms McGowan welcomed more than $1 million to Hothouse Theatre over the next four years to continue the arts program in the Wodonga venue.