You may be aware of the 2015/2016 federal arts budget cuts and subsequent changes to the Australia Council for the Arts funding program that have had devastating effects on the Australian arts industry recently. As a result of these changes, Western Edge Youth Arts has been feeling the loss of the Australia Council’s Youth Arts funding of $50,000, which we received annually from 2011- 2015. To try and recoup this support we made an application for four-year organisational funding from the Australia Council for the Arts, which has been unsuccessful. While this is disappointing, we see this outcome as a result of the highly competitive nature of arts funding at present and in no way a reflection on the high quality or value of the work that we produce. However we are very pleased to announce that we have received support for the Edge Ensemble’s new work Caliban through Australia Council’s Arts Project funding.
In an effort to maintain transparency and to keep you informed on the current position of Western Edge Youth Arts, this letter addresses both the immediate and potential longer-term impacts the recent funding changes will have on our ability to deliver our programs.
The short answer is that Western Edge Youth Arts is still in a stable position to deliver all projects and programs we have planned for 2016, including work in four schools (Whittington Primary School, North Geelong Secondary College, Geelong High School and VU Secondary College), the Phoenix Edge after school workshop program, and a new after school group commencing this term at VU Secondary College. Our 2016 emerging artist program is going strong, with the Edge Ensemble presenting their new work Caliban at the Coopers Malthouse in November. The Geelong Edge will continue to develop their fantastic new work Of Belonging into an interactive piece to tour schools in regional Victoria.
We have programmed accordingly to reduce some activities and spending in areas that will have the least impact on program processes, outcomes and impacts this year. Thankfully we are still receiving fantastic support towards our organisational costs from Creative Victoria and the City of Maribyrnong, and vital individual project funding from the Department of Education and Training, Department of Justice and Regulation, Helen Macpherson Smith Trust, Kimberley Foundation, City of Greater Geelong, Newsboys Foundation and Sidney Myer Fund.
The Board and management are working hard to address the longer-term impacts of decreasing government support. We are confident that the legacy of the quality and importance of the work we do at Western Edge Youth Arts, combined with the continued efforts of our Board and staff in securing alternative avenues of support, will enable us to attract additional funding and revenue sources in the future.
We are taking the cuts as an opportunity to continue diversifying our income streams through more fee for service and fundraising activities, as well as more collaborative, supportive opportunities to work together with like-minded arts organisations to ignite public and philanthropic interest.
This is a timely moment to remind our supporters that if you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution to Western Edge Youth Arts please visit our website here. Your donation will benefit hundreds of young people who are able to access the arts for free through our programs.
If you have any questions or suggestions please don’t hesitate to talk to either Dave or Sally at any time, they’d love to talk to you.
Chair, Western Edge Youth Arts