Arts West Letter to local MPs in the lead up to the Victorian State Elections

Mr Bernard Finn MP
Member for the Western Metropolitan region
Shadow Assistant Minister for Autism Spectrum Disorder; Shadow Assistant Minister for Electoral Integrity; Shadow Assistant Minister for Melbourne's West.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Dear Minister Finn,

We are collectively writing to you as Arts West, a unique alliance of arts organisations and independent artists who together reflect the exciting, vibrant and ever-expanding arts and culture thriving in Melbourne’s west. Consisting of The SUBSTATION, Snuff Puppets, Footscray Community Arts Centre, Women’s Circus, cohealth Arts Generator, Western Edge Youth Arts and 100 Story Building, Arts West collectively delivers the bulk of arts and cultural activities and engagement throughout Melbourne’s west. Through deep, historical connections, Arts West has an extensive and diverse reach, providing cultural services to over 200,000 people annually.

With an anticipated 32% population growth across the region before 2023, Melbourne’s west is one of Australia’s fastest growing areas, and is represented by over 130 cultural groups and 150 languages (source: Lead West). This shifting landscape is deeply informed by perspectives of gentrification, liveability and community well-being, all of which arts and culture plays a significant role. As you would appreciate, access to creative opportunities and cultural representation are key drivers to influencing a cohesive and healthy community, full of active and engaged citizens.

Arts West is uniquely placed to understand that cultural and creative activities have the capacity to address issues relating to community health and wellbeing and social cohesion. One of the strengths of the West is our immense cultural and social diversity. Vibrant arts and cultural activities have the capacity to reflect and build on the diverse voices and stories from our community and create a connected and cohesive Western culture.

The Arts West alliance, as the peak arts advisory and advocacy body of Melbourne’s west, kindly requests it be utilised as a key resource regarding the development of any new arts programs or infrastructure in the West so as to inform government of the potential impact any proposals and investments may have on existing arts and cultural organisations.

As larger cultural institutions look to the western suburbs for affordable infrastructure and new audiences, there is a risk that established arts practitioners and organisations from Melbourne’s west will be overlooked and negatively impacted. Arts West recognises the importance of further investment in the west, however needs to emphasise the importance of investment in current arts infrastructure and institutions in the western suburbs of Victoria.

We urge you to adopt and embed a holistic arts and culture strategy that includes further investment into existing infrastructure for local arts organisations and artists and places arts and cultural activities as foundational to a thriving, active and evolving community.

Thank you for your time in reading this letter and we look forward to your response.

Yours faithfully

Arts West

The Hon. Benjamin Carroll. MP
Mr Daniel Pearson MP
The Hon. Jill Hennessy MP
Mr Timothy Pallas MP
The Hon. Marlene Kairouz MP
Ms Natalie Suleyman MP
The Hon. Natalie Hutchins MP
Dr Rachel Carling-Jenkins MP
Mr Cesar Melhem MP
Ms Sarah Connolly