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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 21 September 2011) . . Page.. 4245 ..

Even worse, the same funding allocated for the capital works to accommodate Megalo in the Fitters Workshop and in an annex building could be used to construct an autonomous building dedicated for the purposes of housing Megalo and its print workshop, and it probably would be easier. There is a lot of plumbing and dealing with toxic chemicals that needs to be done in relation to printmaking. Again, Mr Speaker, I believe that this is a missed opportunity. It is because of an impetuous decision founded on vanity by the former Chief Minister. This is a government that is too proud, or perhaps too embarrassed, to review its decision.

Dr Bourke put forward a motion which, when amended, will carry some merit. We will support the motion if it is amended because it sets the scene for a new commitment to the arts by this government. But I hope that this commitment to the arts by this government is a real one and I hope that the issues relating to the Fitters Workshop are revisited for the benefit of Megalo, the music community and the wider community. My hope is that this new commitment will not amount to a whole lot more missed opportunities.

Sitting suspended from 6.04 to 7.30 pm.

MS BURCH (Brindabella—Minister for Community Services, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Minister for Ageing, Minister for Women and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs) (7.30): I thank Dr Bourke for bringing this motion into the Assembly this afternoon. As I think is well recognised here by many, the arts are an important part of our community and a platform for people to articulate their ideas and their histories, experiences and cultures in a way that really does enrich the lives of all participants.

The ACT arts sector contributes to the broader Canberra community in many and diverse ways. Involvement in the arts contributes substantially to people’s perceptions of social wellbeing, a sense of social inclusion and their ability to remain active in their community. ACT Labor is proud of its investment in the arts and we see the outcomes of this investment all around us. Indeed, we are fortunate to have the Canberra Theatre, the Canberra Museum and Gallery and Craft ACT at the doorsteps of the Assembly.

This year the government has ensured access to grants programs by local artists and community arts organisations and has streamlined processes as outlined in the government response to the Loxton review. This has included the introduction of start-up grants, a new category targeted at young artists aged between 18 and 25. The start-up grants have a value of $500 and provide young artists with the ability to develop their skills, build capacity and present their works to the Canberra community. In the first round, 15 young artists were supported. These small grants go a long way in allowing young artists opportunities to participate in activities that would otherwise not be available to them.

Another new direction in the cultural planning of our city has been through the development of arts hubs. In the most recent budget we have set aside funds to help local arts organisations to better direct their focus towards arts activities and programs

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