Festival reprieve

PERTH council will continue to provide generous financial backing to the Perth Fashion Festival, despite city staff recommending funding be slashed from $200,000 to $50,000.

After listening to a deputation from the Fashion Council WA at Tuesday night’s council meeting, commissioners Gaye McMath and Andrew Hammond decided to give the festival $200,000, plus $30,000 of in-kind sponsorship.

From 2013 to 2017 the festival has received on average of $300,000 per year in funding from the city.

But one of the keynote events at this year’s festival has been moved to Burswood, outside City of Perth boundaries, prompting staff to recommend $50,000 for the free part of the festival in the CBD, known as Fashion Central.

• The Perth Fashion Festival. File photo

That suggestion prompted an outcry from city retailers and more than 1000 people signed an online petition to save the event; while Fashion Council WA said they couldn’t hold it for $50,000.

Another sponsor, Healthway, which had given $75,000 in 2017, decided to pull out of this year, saying the festival didn’t connect with their priority groups.

Commissioner McMath said “cancelling Fashion Central is not consistent with supporting city ratepayers and visitation to the city”, especially given the building works in Forrest Place and the challenging retail environment.

She said it was a bit harsh to slash funding by so much in the space of one year, “however, the Perth Fashion Festival does need to be on notice that the city has to make decisions consistent with the overall economic environment” and they “should not automatically assume that future support can be obtained at the same level as in the past”.

by DAVID BELL

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