IN response to Hilary Oliver’s criticism of Cr Nuatali Nelmes (‘‘Gallery suffers from ignorance’’ Letters 13/3): The idea that Newcastle Art Gallery comes under control of the Australia Council and NSW government seems a lot safer than in the hands of our current council, and its quite fair and sensible that our community realistically considers all future options.
Ms Oliver incorrectly suggests Newcastle City Council ‘‘could easily apply for funding. And lots of it’’, which the council actually did successfully in 2011, acquiring $7million under the former federal Labor government’s competitive Regional Development Australia Fund round 1, after strong representations from former Newcastle MP Sharon Grierson.
That was money in the bag – not promised, not an idea, but on the table and ready to go.
However, after council mismanagement and the lack of political clout by state member Tim Owen in his inability to acquire funding at a state level from the O’Farrell Liberal government, despite his promises, the federal money and any momentum for gallery redevelopment is gone.
I believe it will be incredibly difficult – not easy – for Newcastle to apply for arts funding at any level and be taken seriously into the foreseeable future.