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Majority of arts grants funnelled to east Syd: report

Western Sydney residents are losing out in arts funding to their well-off neighbours in the eastern suburbs, a report has found.

Between 2020 and 2022, eastern Sydney recipients were handed $228 million, or close to 90 per cent of Create NSW's funding for the city, while western Sydney received $32 million, or just 12 per cent, the State of the Arts report from the Centre for Western Sydney found.

The imbalance comes despite western Sydney housing more than half Sydney's population, and accounting for a third of the city's projected future growth.

Western Sydney received just over one third of the state's cultural infrastructure funds between 2015 and 2023, with the majority of that cash allocated to the $915 million Powerhouse Parramatta project.

The remaining two thirds of funding went to the rest of NSW.

People's ability to access culture in Sydney is dictated by their postcode and the school they go to, Blacktown Arts manager and local councillor Alicia Talbot said.

"Western Sydney families pay again and again for the privilege of participating in creativity," she said.

"Imagine the possibilities if western Sydney received equitable per capita investment in creative education, arts and culture, and established regionally significant organisations."

Nine days out from a tight state election, the report urged whoever forms government to increase arts investment in the area and establish a new investment strategy for western Sydney.

The authors called for minimum per-capita funding to ensure financing for arts and culture was spread equally across local, state and federal governments.

The report also noted the heavy impact of extended COVID-19 lockdowns in western Sydney, saying arts venues there suffered profound economic impacts that left many questioning their future.

The authors criticised the amount of federal funding allocated to western Sydney, saying it attracted just 3.4 per cent of funding between 2015 and 2023 while eastern Sydney garnered close to one quarter of the federal budget.

Create NSW has been contacted for comment.