It's not lying down on the job, it's art - as Sammy Lovejoy poses for the Friday life drawing class at the Grafton Regional Gallery.
It's not lying down on the job, it's art - as Sammy Lovejoy poses for the Friday life drawing class at the Grafton Regional Gallery. Adam Hourigan

SAVE OUR GALLERY: What do we stand to lose?

DO YOU think ratepayers should help support the Grafton Regional Gallery?

Do you think ratepayers should help support the Grafton Regional Gallery?

This poll ended on 20 June 2017.

Current Results

Yes

78%

No

21%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

No?

"Then what are we fighting for?"

The famous quote first appeared as a meme attributed to Sir Winston Churchill in response to a proposition that arts funding should be cut in favour of the war effort.

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It turns out the quote was false, but it has since done the rounds on the internet as it represents a deeper longing many of us have. We want the quote to be genuine because we believe the arts indeed do hold out a promise of a higher purpose for our existence. A desire for the arts to help us understand what it is to live in a society and not just an economy. To aspire to a quality life, not just a comfortable lifestyle.

Are qualitative assets such as the gallery as valuable to the community as quantitative assets like water supply and waste disposal? How do we measure the relative importance?

Is the role of our civic leaders to strike a balance between societal vision and prudent financial management? Or in this free-market economy should we simply forfeit cultural responsibility in favour of economic frugality.

>> LETTER: Funding cuts to the gallery would lack wisdom

The region's cultural icon has become a marker in the sand in the debate as Clarence Valley Council strives to meet NSW Government's Fit For The Future requirements.

Among the wider arts community, Grafton Regional Gallery puts the Clarence Valley on the map. It is unrivaled as stop number one for our most affluent visitors who are likely to inject the most into our local economy during their stays.

Cultural icons help to shape the identity and character of a community. They act as tourist destinations for visitors, as well as provide a meeting place and creative outlet for a wide range of community groups.

But Clarence Valley residents are clearly divided on the issue. Many who never visit the gallery question why their rates should be drained into maintaining the venue (which works out to be about three cents per day or $12 per year for each person in the region).

>> RELATED STORY: Gallery supporters query council's 'rubbery figures'

Others see diminished resources for the gallery as letting go of ties to our cultural heritage and at the same time a backward step in the region's attempts to move toward a more prosperous future.

In tomorrow's DEX (Wednesday) we take a closer look at how Clarence Valley Council's mismanagement of the cafe/restaurant has contributed to a downturn in the gallery's visitation rates and what we stand to lose if we stop supporting the gallery.

Here's a snapshot of the response we received on social media this week:

Marc McIntyre: "Winston Churchill was quoted for saying, when during the war they considered cutting the art budget out, 'well what are we fighting for?'"

Peter Clements: "Personally it is hard enough paying our outrageous rates as a pensioner, however as a civilisation we need art in our lives."

Amanda Nutt: "Anytime the council tries to make a tough decision a group of the community complains and makes petitions etc to stop the tough decisions from happening. The gallery should be run as a business and not need to rely on 500k a year from the council."

Bob Vial: "Perhaps corporate sponsorship is the way to go."

Anne Carter: "The Regional Gallery brings an enormous amount to the City of Grafton. The tourism dollars alone bring cash to camp sites, hotels, motels, B&Bs in the area. Exhibitions attract artists and visitors to the area but, more importantly, maybe a lot of locals don't realise the benefits gained for the elderly and school children with all the workshops and facilities for them to use. Art is a great healer with mental health too which my own family have benefited from. If the Gallery loses its Regional status then other grants will be lost too. The cafe area needs to be functioning again soon with a realistic rental agreement. We have many friends and family who visit from the UK and the USA and all so far have been very impressed with our gallery. But recently there hasn't been a cafe open when we've visited. Personally I'd pay more in rates to keep a Regional Gallery but I can't decide for others in their circumstances."



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