Lack of support for Artsfest

THE decision to cancel next year's autumn Artsfest program was not made lightly.

Grafton Artsfest president Fay Boyd said the committee based its decision on the level of interest, or lack thereof, in this year's autumn program.

The situation was so dire, she said, it could result in Artsfest closing its doors forever.

“If the 2011 spring program has the same amount of students as the autumn festival, we will have to shut our doors and walk away,” Mrs Boyd said.

“It will mean that we simply do not have the cash flow to keep running the event.

“It is cyclic.

"The money we make from one festival runs on to supporting the next.”

Artsfest draws a large percentage of its students from flood-ravaged South-East Queensland, and Mrs Boyd accepted thatMother Nature had played a part in the low enrolment numbers.

But she said local support had also been disappointing.

“I understand that art is a luxury, and that if someone who has lost their home has the choice of rebuilding their life or paying for an art course, that they are going to choose the former,” she said.

Artsfest did not receive any funding support from Clarence Valley Council this year, and Mrs Boyd said that added to the problem as any contribution would have helped immensely.

Hundreds of letters had also been sent to local businesses requesting sponsorship, but few replied.

“I don't think Clarence Valley Council or some local businesses realise how great of an injection Artsfest provides to the local economy,” she said.

“The last time Events New South Wales looked into it, they stated that the economic benefit Artsfest provides to the community is upwards of $4 million.

“Surely if this event is no longer in existence, businesses, especially in the hospitality industry, will come to realise the loss.”

As things stand, the spring program will go ahead as planned and information about the courses will be available soon.

In the meantime, the committee has several fundraisers planned throughout the year to support future festivals.

The first, a jazz and lunch afternoon, will take place on April 17 at the Wooli River Lodge.

A bazaar and market will take place at the South Grafton Ex-Servicemen's Club on May 29, with a barefoot bowls day planned at the club for June 5.

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