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Minister admits NSW arts funding was redirected to Sydney Symphony Orchestra

NSW arts minister Don Harwin has admitted that some money from a Create NSW funding round was diverted to the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (SSO), meaning 11 arts organisations missed out on funding, reports ABC News.

The news comes after the ABC obtained Freedom of Information documents revealing that only six arts organisations were allocated funding of $256,000 in June this year, despite an independent panel recommending that 17 projects share a total budget of $660,000.

The documents show that the minister chose to fund only six of the recommended 17 projects, with the minister’s approval given ‘in accordance with revised budget parameters’. $404,000 was removed from the funding round and then directed towards a single project, which was redacted in the documents but has now been revealed to be the SSO.

Among the 11 organisations that missed out on funding are Sydney Fringe Festival, Articulate art space in Leichhardt and artist Paula Abood.

Responding to a question from the shadow arts minister in Parliament yesterday, Harwin said a ‘one-off grant of $1 million was made to the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’ in June, with the money to go towards ‘acoustic enhancement at the Darling Harbour Theatre at the International Convention Centre’.

‘Yes, there was some support from the Arts and Cultural Development program and there was other support from underspends in the department’s budget,’ Harwin told Parliament.

A spokesperson for minister Harwin told Books+Publishing: ‘There are occasions when funding flexibility is needed to support emerging issues across the sector. In this case funds were diverted to the Create Strategic Support Fund. This is not unusual for any government body and will continue to be the case.’

The spokesperson also noted that the government has increased its overall investment in NSW arts and culture from $52.9 million in 2017-18 to $54.8 million in 2018-19.



Category: Local news