From the Parramatta Sun:
Local artists and arts executives have praised Premier Nathan Rees for his recent commitment to boost the arts in western Sydney.
Mr Rees, who grew up in the west and has taken on the role of Minister for the Arts as well as that of Premier, said he had a vision for the arts in western Sydney.
''I am committed to shifting the emphasis away from the city and out into our regions and our suburbs,'' he said.
''I want to give kids the opportunity to develop their creative skills locally and improve access to, and support for, arts spaces.''
Local artists Vaughan O'Connor, Vincent O'Connor and Mark Brown, who are working on an interactive multimedia installation in the Brandsmart building in Parramatta, said that support for the arts should encourage artists to base themselves in western Sydney.
The three, who are working on the installation for this year's Riverbeats festival, Parramatta's signature cultural event, also said that extra funding should go into turning existing under-used buildings such as the Brandsmart building into productive spaces for artists.
Riverside Theatres director Robert Love said most state government funding for arts, cultural events and festivals had been directed at activities ''within five kilometres of the Opera House''.
Mr Love said it looked as though Mr Rees would redistribute a fair share of arts funds to where the need and the people are.
The chief executive of the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre in Penrith, John Kirkman, said western Sydney was one of the nation's cultural generators, but didn't have parity of resources with some of the major ''sandstone institutions'' in the city.
''Arts and culture are a big part of our lives,'' Mr Kirkman said.
''Our audiences like quality. If it's quality, they come. If it's rubbish, they don't come.''
Parramatta's new lord mayor, Tony Issa, said Parramatta was already home to many art venues.
''The balance of arts facilities is shifting to the huge and populous region of western Sydney,'' he said.