Arts precinct awaits Govt fund­ing call

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Court­ney Fowler and Peter de Krui­jff

Con­struc­tion of the Kar­ratha Arts and Com­mu­nity Precinct will likely be de­layed un­less the City of Kar­ratha’s sec­ond at­tempt to se­cure $10 mil­lion from the Na­tional Stronger Re­gions Fund is suc­cess­ful.

In June, the City missed out on the first round of fund­ing through the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment ini­tia­tive.

There were only five suc­cess­ful WA projects in the first round, one of which was $6 mil­lion for a pro­ject in Bel­mont, Perth.

Dur­ing a re­cent visit to the prospec­tive pro­ject site, the Pil­bara News asked Deputy Prime Min­is­ter War­ren Truss why the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment did not fund any projects north of Ger­ald­ton.

“The stronger re­gions fund is a very com­pet­i­tive pro­gram; there are over 500 ap­pli­ca­tions ask­ing for sev­eral bil­lion dol­lars,” he said.

“We are only able to fund 50 projects in the whole of Aus­tralia, so nat­u­rally there are many projects that were not suc­cess­ful the first time round.”

Mr Truss de­nied the de­ci­sion to ap­prove fund­ing for a city pro­ject from an ini­tia­tive de­signed to “fund pri­or­ity in­fra­struc­ture in re­gional com­mu­ni­ties” was a mis­lead­ing use of funds.

“We want to make sure this pro­gram is help­ing peo­ple in dis­ad­van­taged ar­eas; many of these will

be in the coun­try but there are also sub­ur­ban parts of our na­tion where the econ­omy is slow,” he said.

“It was al­ways in­tended that the pro­gram would ben­e­fit dis­ad­van­taged com­mu­ni­ties in the coun­try as well as the city.

“Since the first round, we have of­fered some feed­back to ap­pli­cants who were not suc­cess­ful.”

Mr Truss said the next round of suc­cess­ful projects would be an­nounced in De­cem­ber.

City of Kar­ratha Mayor Peter Long said ten­ders for the con­struc­tion of the Kar­ratha Arts and Com­mu­nity Precinct would be in­vited in early 2016 if ex­ter­nal fund­ing was se­cured.

“The City of Kar­ratha Na­tional Stronger Re­gions Fund­ing ap­pli­ca­tion was sub­mit­ted in July for the cur­rent fund­ing round,” he said.

“A Lot­tery­west ex­pres­sion of in­ter­est has also been lodged and we are cur­rently await­ing feed­back.”

The City coun­cil ex­pects to fund about half the pro­ject it­self but pre­vi­ously said it would un­der­write the pro­ject by up to $46 mil­lion in fear it misses out on the Fed­eral scheme.

The City has also ap­plied for $14 mil­lion of Roy­al­ties for Re­gions money through the Pil­bara Cities In­fra­struc­ture Fund and is also ne­go­ti­at­ing with in­dus­try for about $9 mil­lion in fund­ing.

The $54 mil­lion precinct will in­clude an arts cen­tre, gallery space, an out­door event space with an am­phithe­atre, as well as a new li­brary and space for the lo­cal history of­fice.

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