KEEP A LOOK OUT: Cr Bush said the RADF had a number of art projects in the pipeline.
KEEP A LOOK OUT: Cr Bush said the RADF had a number of art projects in the pipeline. Julia Bartrim

Local councillor says yes to arts funding

ONE of Gladstone's biggest arts advocates has spoken out in support of the arts in the wake of yesterday's LNP promise to invest an extra $9 million, if elected.

Cr Cindi Bush says she welcomes any government, whatever tier, putting funds towards the arts.

She told The Observer this was the first announcement about the arts that she'd heard from any political party since the election date was declared.

"It disappoints me whenever there's chopping of funding to be done, generally it goes to the arts sector first," Cr Bush said.

"I don't like to play off sports against arts, but you think about all the sporting fields we have and all the clubhouses, whereas really our only arenas for the arts are the entertainment centre, the gallery and then we can move into parks and places like that."

Cr Bush wants people to recognise the important role the arts plays in the community.

"When times are tough, the arts are actually healing," she said.

"There's lots and lots of research papers on the benefit of the arts in post-economic disasters.

"For example post-war, particularly in England when everything was bombed, you saw the upsurge of little theatres.

"You're putting together groups of people and they help each other."

Cr Bush said she hoped any funds would be allocated through the Regional Arts Development Fund, a fund supported by council and Arts Queensland.

She said the RADF in Gladstone, which she chairs, had been funded to the tune of $110, 000 in the 12 months since November 2016.

While it does not sound like a lot, she said the funds had been very effectively used.

"We're seeing artists that have been given opportunities for professional development who are now on iTunes, the top of the charts," she said.

"That's something to be immensely proud of," she said in reference to local musicians Hayley Marsten and Andrew Thomson.

In a statement released yesterday morning, LNP leader Tim Nicholls said part of the funds ($4 million) would be used to develop a fund available to regional arts and cultural organisations to improve facilities and boost cultural tourism offerings.

 

However a Labor spokesperson called the LNP announcement "an uncosted promise".

"When Tim Nicholls was Treasurer, the Newman Government cut the Premier's Literary awards, $20 million from the arts grants program and education officers from arts companies," he said.

He noted that under Labor, the contribution to Arts Queensland had increased from $98.8 million in 2016-17 to $136.08 million in 2017-18.

Gladstone has a long history of engagement in both visual and performing arts and there is no doubt any increase in funding would be welcomed and well used in this city.