HERITAGE PERTH could be history after commissioners at Perth council voted to stop funding the not-for-profit organisation at the end of this month.
The council created the organisation in 2006 to be an advocate for the city’s history, and under the infectious enthusiasm of executive director Richard Offen it’s achieved just that – running the hugely successful Heritage Weekends and holding booked-out lectures and tours.
Mr Offen retired from the independently-run organisation late last year.
At last week’s council meeting, commissioners Gaye McMath and Andrew Hammond endorsed a staff recommendation to discontinue the principal partnership with Heritage Perth, with the existing funding agreement to expire on June 30.
Any funds that were on the on the books for the 2018-19 year will be “repurposed” so the city can employ it’s own in-house heritage staffer and run its own version of the Heritage Weekend.
The recommendation from staff said: “Heritage Perth was set up with the intention to raise the profile of heritage conservation work in the city”. The report acknowledged they’d done that well, but went on to say; “the model of an independent organisation is no longer cost effective, nor the optimal way of achieving the City’s strategic aims. There is also no evidence that Heritage Perth could ever achieve greater financial independence, as was the original intention”.
The city gave the organisation $143,110 last year. The total handed over since it was started is north of $3 million.
We contacted Heritage Perth to ask what’s next. Its statement says; “the city and Heritage Perth are exploring options to transition Heritage Perth into the City of Perth.
“Heritage Perth is an independent incorporated organisation and will consider options for ongoing operations at a board meeting on 7 June 2018. Heritage Perth has for 12 years had significant positive impact in raising the profile of heritage in the city with education, tours and the Heritage Perth weekends over the years.”
Commissioner McMath said ahead of the vote: “I applaud the work done by Heritage Perth to date and look forward to working with them further.” The city will now consult with any heritage-related stakeholders and come up with its own overarching heritage strategy.
by DAVID BELL