Every time the local newsagent rings up another Lotto or scratchie sale, a small trickle runs from the cash register into arts events such as the Perth International Arts Festival and Fringe World.
Under the 1992 Lotteries Commission Act, up to 2 per cent of turnover from WA's weekend fortune-hunters must be channelled into the arts.
Lotterywest is the only State-run lottery agency in Australia and one of the few in the world with a community grants program.
It took $763 million from punters last financial year and ploughed $257 million into community health, sports, leisure and cultural organisations. So far this financial year, almost $20.3 million has gone into the arts.
Screenwest and the Perth Festival received $7 million each and Fringe World received $1 million.
Other beneficiaries include Awesome, Opera in the Park, Symphony in the City, Country Arts WA and Sculpture by the Sea.
Lotterywest chief executive Jan Stewart said the arts played a crucial role in building a vibrant WA community, the ethos of the Lotteries Commission since the first WA lottery draw in March 1933.
"Arts, storytelling, music and festivals bring people together in a positive way," Ms Stewart said. "It is about building communities."
The former chief social worker at Princess Margaret Hospital, who has been Lotterywest boss for more than 20 years, said there were few instances of problem lottery gamblers.
Arts companies ought to be aware that lottery sales and therefore grants were reduced when times were tight, she said.
Fringe World director Marcus Canning said his festival would not exist without the funds from Lotterywest.
"Imagine if the funds that allow for so much positive work to happen for the people of WA were going instead into the pockets of big corporations and offshore interests," Mr Canning said.
"It's one of the unique components of the WA cultural ecology that is allowing the State and city to be experiencing a renaissance of vibrancy and dynamism."Lotterywest is working with other State agencies on plans to convert the current festival buzz in the Perth Cultural Centre into a year-round program of events.
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