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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 12 Hansard (20 November) . . Page.. 3872 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

Already a significant part of the extra $1m for the arts development program has been received by arts groups, and a significant number of new projects have been funded as a result of that. Shortly, we will be making announcements about the spending of $600,000 over the next two years on a public art program, which will see a number of important public places in the Territory - public buildings in the Territory, particularly - enhanced through the injection of money for public art.

Mr Speaker, that is not just a device to demonstrate a commitment to the arts and to beautify the Territory; it is also an engine to drive private sector investment in the arts, which in some cases has been quite ready and quite spectacular but which in other cases needs some encouragement. We are going to set a good example through the ACT public purse. There is also an increase of $865,000 in the Healthpact funding for projects to do with the arts and culture. I think that those commitments more than adequately demonstrate that this Government takes seriously the process of both consulting with the arts community and funding the arts community appropriately.

MR HIRD: My supplementary question is this: Did I hear you correctly, Minister, to say that, in the 1993-94 budget in the Territory, the ACT Arts Council was allocated annual funding to be paid in two instalments? And, Minister, could you just reiterate who the Minister was at that time?

MR HUMPHRIES: There was a lot of noise in the chamber, and Mr Hird may not have heard what I said there. The fact is, Mr Speaker, that those fairly high-handed actions were undertaken by my predecessor, Mr Wood, who at the time, I recall, had a great deal of flak floating around about the peremptory cutting off of funding. There have been far fewer organisations defunded under this Government, because there is more money available. We have made that possible. We want to keep going projects which are important and valuable to the arts community, and therefore that has not been a problem under this Government.

Arts Funding

MS TUCKER: My question is also to the Minister for Arts and Heritage, Mr Humphries, on actually the same subject. Last night I attended a briefing for members of the Canberra arts community, which totally failed to allay their concerns about proposed new arrangements for the administration of arts grants. The public servants whom you sent to face the people - you were not there, and it was not a very consultative atmosphere at all, I have to say - told the meeting that they could not say who had proposed the changes in the first place; that they had no plans for how its success could be evaluated at the end of the proposed trial, if it were introduced; and that very little money would probably be saved. The chair of the ACT Cultural Council told the meeting that the council had not been consulted in the development of this proposal and that it was very unhappy when it had been informed the day before, when it had had the first meeting,

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