THE MACLEAY VALLEY Arts Council (MVAC) has been added to the list of local groups suffering under the yoke of COVID-19 restrictions.
Newly re-elected treasurer, Rosemary Norris, said that the 2019 Financial Report indicated the arts council had a successful year with all outgoings met, but ongoing bills and other payments are still causing financial distress.
"So far 2020 has been extremely difficult, despite a fundraiser generating some helpful donations from the membership to help cover outstanding fixed costs, we only raised a quarter of the amount needed to break even," she said.
"The MVAC still faces severe financial hardship and will be finding it almost impossible to make its payments."
One of the highest expenses incurred is the rates payment on Oddfellows Hall in Kemp Street, West Kempsey.
At the recent general meeting, several suggestions were put forward to help ensure the arts council's ongoing survival, including asking Kempsey Shire Council for leniency on rates payments and selling the enclosed trailer used by MVAC to transport sound and lighting gear to local events.
Selling the Oddfellows Hall and land, which is one of the oldest buildings in the Macleay, was put forward as a last ditch measure to survive the current crisis.
Newly elected President Steve MacDonald said that there would be further discussion at the next meeting, currently set for October, and asks members for any suggestions on how to minimise costs.
"It really has come to a crunch time for the future of the MVAC; a body which has been providing art in all its forms since coming into existence in the mid 1990's," Steve said.
"We really do need the arts council to survive so that it can support the many roles it plays; if we go under, there are a lot of events that just wouldn't be able to happen when things settle down again.
"The committee is unanimous in wanting the arts to survive here in the Macleay; something of benefit to the whole community."
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the only activity for 2020 has been the annual Sculptures in the Gaol, staged online for the first time.
"It was important to maintain a profile for what has become such a unique and significant cultural event for the Macleay Valley over the past eleven years," organiser Phil Nicholson said.
"I hope that Sculptures in the Gaol will be able to able to return in August 2021.
"There is another online event being considered for early 2021, with the theme 'Metal as Anything', the aim is to encourage creativity and help foster and maintain a profile for the wonderful creations from Macleay artists."
Over the years, Macleay Valley Arts Council has staged many successful events, such as art balls, musical recitals, performances, plays, photography, art exhibitions, film screenings and operas.
The next meeting of the MVAC is scheduled for Wednesday, October 14, 6 pm at the Oddfellows Hall. All are welcome to attend.