This month Council is considering a proposed new grants and sponsorship program. I applaud the way the City engages with local community groups and arts organisations through the program. It is incredibly important that we support local arts, culture and community building with financial and in-kind support. I have concerns that the new program may make things more difficult for local non-profits.
As part of the proposed new system the number of grants programs have been reduced from 19 to 15. These grants deliver up to $13M to various projects and the City has conducted extensive consultation with stakeholders.
One key change to the program is that for-profit organisations are now able to apply for more grants provided their application is for a not-for-profit event or activity. While this flexibility will allow the City to support a broader range of activities where for-profit organisations happen to be involved, I’m concerned about the effect this may have on community organisations. For non-profit community organisations this change will increase the number of potential competitors they face in order for their grant application to be successful. Also, I am concerned that many for-profit organisations have the advantage of being able to pay staff to produce their submission where community groups may not. I don’t want to see people squeezed out of the system. While I am supportive of the new program I will keep a close eye on the new system to ensure that it doesn’t open up new loopholes for companies to exploit.