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Fifield’s Catalyst fund grants $400k for international artist residencies in WA

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Federal Arts Minister Mitch Fifield has announced the second major grant under his Catalyst fund will go to Western Australia to support the establishment of a new international artist residency program.

Local arts organisation FORM, which has been around since 1968, will use the $400,000 grant to establish The Goods Shed in the Perth suburb Claremont, which will provide facilities for international artists.

In a statement, Minister Fifield said: “Not only will these residencies develop the professional practice of individual artists, but the work produced will tour regionally and interstate, providing local communities in the Pilbara and Albany the opportunity to collaborate and attend workshops.”

Western Australian Senator Dean Smith said the grant “would contribute to promoting cultural tourism in the Pilbara, and in the Wheatbelt.”

According to an Arts Ministry media release, FORM CEO Lynda Dornington said she hoped the Catalyst fund is around for a long time: “This type of investment fund, which is not found within traditional arts funding streams, will foster burgeoning expressions of initiative and leadership at a grassroots level, so that Australia can make increasing use of its creative potential.”

The guidelines for the Catalyst fund emphasise “ambitious” projects and have a focus on international and cultural diplomacy.

The grant comes after the first round of funds for Catalyst was announced in February, with a massive $485,000 going to a commercial gallery in Brisbane for an exhibition of indigenous art at the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco. That grant received its share of criticism, with many questioning why not-for-profit organisations missed out over the commercial gallery, which isn’t a signatory of the industry standard Indigenous Art Code.

It also comes less than a month away from the Australia Council’s announcement as to which local companies will receive ongoing funding for the next four years as “key organisations”. The “key organisation” funding goes to mid-size arts companies and has been necessarily reduced after the Federal Government cut $12 million a year, a substantial chunk of the Australia Council’s budget to establish the Catalyst program (initially George Brandis’s National Program for Excellence in the Arts).

According to The Australian, 130 companies have applied for funding worth between $75,000 to $300,000 a year to support the day-to-day running of those companies. It’s estimated that somewhere between 60 and 80 companies will be successful in their bids when the Australia Council begins notifying them from May 9.

Some of the companies that lose out, many of which have been operating for decades, will likely be forced to cease operations. The next round of key organisation funding doesn’t open until 2019.

One response to “Fifield’s Catalyst fund grants $400k for international artist residencies in WA

  1. “Fifield’s Catalyst Fund” is more correctly referred to as the Catalyst Fund administered by Federal Arts Minister Fifield….it’s neither his money nor his fund.

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