ARCHIVED AMPAG in the Media

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Arts attract private funds

WA arts companies have been securing more sponsorship funds and donations despite the financial downturn as escalating production costs outstrip government funding.

Private support for the arts in WA had nearly doubled from 2001-02 to $16.12 million in 2008-09, a report by the Australia Business Arts Foundation said.

More than $6 million of this had been raised by Black Swan State Theatre Company, the WA Symphony Orchestra, WA Opera and WA Ballet, according to a survey by the Australian Major Performing Arts Group.

AMPAG executive director Sue Donnelly aid the results were a lesson in companies having to spend money to make money as government subsidies failed to match skyrocketing costs for venues, set construction, touring and marketing.

Companies had to invest heavily in fundraising staff during tough financial times, Ms Donnelly said.

"WA did remarkably well in 2009, reflecting the generosity of the community who have benefitted from the resources boom and who value a vibrant and lively performing arts scene," she said.

Black Swan general manager Shane Colquhoun said a new board of business heavyweights, the appointment of a fundraising manager and an impending move to the new Northbridge theatre centre had energised the theatre company's fundraising activities, tripling such income from a relatively low base.

Black Swan had attracted new sponsors despite the global financial crisis and uncertainty in the mining industry, he said.

Theatre donor and Labor MLC Linda Savage recently organised a group of 40 women to chip in $1000 each to pay for the construction of the set for Black Swan’s recent production of The Clean House.

"There are individuals who are keen to contribute and are just waiting to be asked," she said. "WA is justifiably proud that it is setting the economic pace for the rest of the country and should be taking the lead in a commitment to the arts commensurate with our booming economy."

ABAF's WA manager Henry Boston said the culture of donating to the arts was not entrenched in WA. "We are still very underdone in terms of how much individual wealth exists here."


STEPHEN BEVIS, The West Australian July 1, 2010, 3:13 pm