Driven by a push for zero rate increases, Council has taken a red pen to its Cultural Development Fund. In February 2023, it recommended the $187,000 fund pool for cultural projects be reduced to just $100,000. More cuts to community and arts programs are expected in the next budget round.
The small project grants distributed via Cultural Development Fund create enormous opportunities for artists and organisations to generate arts, cultural and heritage activities in our neighbourhoods and precincts. Their loss will be felt deeply.
St Kilda Historical Society contribution
The St Kilda Historical Society regularly auspices story-telling projects about the diverse history of St Kilda. Our volunteers share their knowledge and time to help with the grant application, provide mentoring throughout the project, inject additional funding as needed, and promote the work when finished. Recent projects include Janine Burke’s 2020 Mirka Mora Seaside Angel essay and Remembering Mirka interviews, the podcast series Unplugged in St Kilda, recorded by Sally Moore in 2021/22, and a book by Carmel McKenzie, to be published in June 2023, that provides new insights into St Kilda’s 19th century social classes: St Kilda 1841-1900: Movers, Shakers and Money-makers.
Another Society auspice, Marianne Latham’s documentary The Posh and the Riff Raff, was among the 18 successful Cultural Development Fund projects awarded $12,000 or less in 2022/23. Marianne’s project, to be completed this year, will tell St Kilda’s rich history through the lens of a variety of voices; including historians, former councillors, residents, Gay archivists, activists, social workers, and artists.
For the next round, this modest pool of funds will reduce to $100,000, effectively halving the number of community cultural projects in the City of Port Phillip. We are losing our ability to pass on our stories to future generations.
Why the funding cut?
The cuts come as Council looks for ongoing savings that will enable it reduce future rate increases, eventually freezing rate increases altogether. The extensive and exhaustive, months long review, costing $70,000, involved a detailed investigation by councillors into 28 council service areas. In the end, they were unable to agree on any meaningful cuts to the annual budget of $245M, except for the $87,000 to be removed from community arts and cultural projects. The desired 2023/2024 rate freeze goal needs some $54M worth of savings to become a reality.
What can you do?
We are determined to campaign against this reduction as we would hate to see the Council’s support for community groups bear the brunt of the proposed Council budget cuts. We are preparing our submission to Councillors ahead of the budget process.
We are encouraging City of Port Phillip citizens, who value local arts, culture, and community engagement, to get involved.
One way to get involved is to provide feedback to the budget process at: https://haveyoursay.portphillip.vic.gov.au/council-plan-and-budget
We are inviting past Cultural Development Fund recipients to tell Council what the project meant to them and to their community, and how it enriched our knowledge and culture.
Write to Councillors:
Request to speak at Council meetings:
Attend the Council meeting and organize to speak for 2 minutes on the project to Councillors.
To register to speak, you will need to submit an online Request to Speak form, BEFORE 4pm on the day of the meeting
The following is the time table for Council Meetings and location details:
4 April Tuesday: Council Meeting at the St Kilda Town Hall starting at 7.30.
19 April Wednesday: Council meeting at the St Kilda Town Hall starting at 6.30.
3 May Wednesday: Council meeting at Port Melbourne Town Hall at 6.30
17 May Wednesday: Council meeting at St Kilda Town Hall at 6.30
7 June Wednesday: Council meeting at St Kilda Town Hall at 6.30 (last meeting before the final budget is approved)