NORPA general manager Patrick Healey said he found out about NSW Labor’s election promise to double funding for the Regional Cultural Fund on social media.
He added that while NORPA ‘wasn’t part of the consultation process and I’m not sure how that was undertaken’ Labor had reached ‘a very reasonable policy position’.
Earlier this month outgoing Lismore MP Thomas George (Nationals) announced that NORPA would receive $1.16 million dollars from the Regional Cultural Fund to upgrade Lismore City Hall’s sound and lighting equipment.
Currently the fund stands at $100 million a year, so that amount alone accounts for more than one per cent of its budget.
But the Labor plan, jointly announced by Labor leader Michael Daley and shadow arts minister Walt Secord, would see that figure doubled to $200 million and a further $40 million put towards the Regional Conservatorium of Music Fund.
In addition, arts organisations in rural and regional areas will be able to seek funding assistance for staff and programs for the first time.
The pair said Labor would also ‘direct the state’s arts and culture agency, Create NSW, to begin work on the creation of a strategy for the arts in rural and regional NSW within the first six months of the election of a Daley government’.
Mr Healey told Echonetdaily the news was a welcome treat on his first day back at work after the holidays.
‘NORPA, being a regional independent theatre company, is keen to see an increase in investment in regional theatre which would increase our capacity to create new works and support our theatre in education program,’ he said.
‘The ALP policy is a great start and I hope it stimulates a conversation among all political parties about access to theatre and the arts in regional NSW as well as providing theatre makers and artists expanded opportunities,’ he added.
Mr Secord told Echonetdaily that while NORPA had not been directly consulted on the issue recently, ‘I have been contacting arts groups for the last four years and my colleagues, Mick Veitch (shadow minister for primary industries) and David Harris (shadow minister for regional development) have meeting directly with the association responsible regional conservatoriums of music.’