Page 5666 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 6 December 2011

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Weston Creek community festival

Statement by minister

MR BARR (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development and Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation) (10.54), by leave: In the last sitting a motion was moved that required me to report back to the Assembly on the ACT festival fund and funding for the Weston Creek community festival. I now report to the Assembly against that motion. The motion called upon the ACT government to firstly provide clear public information about the methodology for ranking applications. It advised the Assembly that applications to the ACT festival fund are assessed by an assessment panel brought together specifically for the fund.

The panel comprises five members who have specific festival interest, knowledge and experience as well as broad industry and business knowledge. Each application is assessed by every panel member against all of the assessment criteria as defined in the ACT festival fund information booklet. The booklet provides all the details for applicants regarding the fund, including the detailed selection criteria to be addressed. Applications are then ranked comparatively with other applications received in the round.

Group assessment meetings are then held for all panel members to attend. The group’s discussion is based on the individual assessment rankings by each panel member. The panel determines each application’s final ranking after making comparisons against each of the criteria as defined in the booklet and against other applicants to the round.

A final decision is reached and feedback for each applicant is recorded by Australian Capital Tourism events unit staff members who are in attendance. Staff from the events unit attend group assessment meetings to ensure that the relevant policies articulated in the booklet are adhered to and they also provide information on the process to the committee.

Letters are provided to all applicants, whether successful or unsuccessful, detailing the results of the funding round. All applicants are encouraged to seek a feedback session with the events unit staff. The booklet articulates a time line for the feedback process. Applicants have 60 days in which to arrange a feedback session with events staff. The methodology of ranking applicants against provided criteria, along with the requirements of applicants to robustly substantiate their claims, is consistent with grants programs across the ACT government.

The second part of the Assembly motion was to provide a simplified process for festival fund applications designed to result in lower rates of non-compliant applications. I can advise the Assembly that the ACT festival fund has been running since 2002. Historically there has been a very low number of complaints or negative issues raised by applicants. The booklet clearly outlines the process for which applications can be made to the fund. The existing process is robust, ensuring equity and the best use of taxpayer funding. Applicants are strongly encouraged to meet with the ACT festival fund officer prior to submitting their application to the fund. This allows for a full discussion of the purpose, criteria, process and administration of the fund, ensuring the requirements of applicants are fully understood.

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