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Mundaring Bicentennial Scholarship Trust trustee Chris Durrant.

Art award funding gets the chop

By Claire Ottaviano

THE Shire of Mundaring will pull the plug on its annual funding of the long-standing Robert Juniper Award for the Arts after Council supported scrapping a funding agreement with the award’s Trustees.

At Tuesday night’s Council meeting, councillors debated for almost an hour on an alternative motion by Cr David Lavell to instead renew the three-year agreement with the Mundaring Bicentennial Scholarship Trust before it was defeated 4/5.

The 33-year-old annual award, given to one young artist every year, will be replaced with a $7000 new arts and culture grant open to multiple recipients.

Trust chairman Michael Ryan said the trustees would meet next week to discuss the future of the award.

“There is a great likelihood that it would be put in jeopardy if we can’t figure out how to keep it at the level many now expect from the award,” he said.

“That’s the truth of it.

“We have a very limited capacity to raise funds and we would have to give serious consideration to how the Trust can continue to operate without that funding.”

The good news is, the Trust currently has enough in the bank to allow the award to continue this year, giving trustees breathing space to find alternative funding in the future.

Councillors’ views on administration’s reasons to discontinue the agreement conflicted.

Five sided with staff, stating the award’s $7000 prize was too much for one individual, and the money would be better shared amongst more recipients.

Councillors David Lavell, Doug Jeans, Kate Driver and president John Daw disagreed.

“If you break it down into small chunks, you’re just going to water down the end results,” Cr Daw said.

“$7000 is in many ways generous… but I see the value in an individual getting the award.

“I’ve seen it over the years and overall, nothing I’ve heard tonight convinces me it shouldn’t go ahead.”

The award, renamed the Robert Juniper Award for the Arts in 2014, after the passing of distinguished West Australian artist Robert Juniper, was established in 1988 to provide assistance to talented young artists under the age of 35.

Awards have been given every year, with one exception, and more than $168,000 awarded to 77 artists and performers in a wide range of disciplines.

The Mundaring Bicentennial Scholarship Trust also sponsors the Darlington Arts Festival’s people’s choice junior award and more recently the Hills Drama Festival.

Last year’s Robert Juniper Award recipient Cara Baldwin, who has Down syndrome, was the first person with a disability to win the award.

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