THE Surf Coast Shire council have confirmed PORTAL will continue to serve as the digital home for local artists after the program’s initial funding ran out at the end of August.
PORTAL was established to help local artists showcase their work during COVID-19. It includes live panels, virtual studio tours, workshops, and performances.
While much of this content is still accessible, for the past few weeks there have been no new events held on the platform.
However, Surf Coast Shire council agreed at it’s most recent meeting to fund the program through to February 2021, if the program does not receive further funding from the state government.
Aireys Inlet painter Pat McKenzie was one of many Surf Coast artists who created or expanded their digital presence through PORTAL.
Ms McKenzie also participated in one of the Sunday Sessions on the making of the Surf Coast Arts Trail, which received more than 1,000 views.
She welcomed the news of PORTAL’s continuation.
“You’re still doing your art and involved with the community, and that’s really important,” Ms McKenzie said.
“It’s a positive thing for all of the arts in the shire. It really did work well.
“I think it depends how good the people are who actually do the background work, and I think that (artistic director) Harriet (Gaffney) has got that well under control, with (program manager) Stacie (Bobele) and a few others, they’ve got the mechanics of it working well.”
Council is applying for the funding through the state government’s recently announced Let’s Stay Connected Fund, which looks to support initiatives helping people overcome the social isolation caused by COVID-19.
Council’s report on the recently accepted COVID-19 Recovery Assistance Program applications stated PORTAL had financial and social benefits.
“It is a valuable tool that supports social recovery and brings economic support to the arts sector which is a feature of the Surf Coast Shire economy and has be impacted by COVID-19.”
Local sculptor Cinnamon Stephens agreed PORTAL has helped build community in addition to showcasing the region’s art.
“I have loved the Portal conversations I have watched and believe this was a fabulous way to keep people engaged during this weird gap year,” she said.
“It has also proven to be a perfect time to pause and reflect, revise and redirect our collective creative energies for the new normal that will be post-COVID-19.”
If council does not receive a grant from the state government, it will give $30,000 from its COVID-19 Recovery Assistance Program. Council allocated $1 million for the COVID-19 Recovery Assistance Program in its Budget 2020-21.
To visit PORTAL head to surfcoastartstrail.com.au/.