City of Perth approves $200k Fashion Festival funding but issues warning on future

A runway show at Perth Fashion Festival. Photo: Matt Jelonek.
A runway show at Perth Fashion Festival. Photo: Matt Jelonek.

THE free events at this year’s Perth Fashion Festival will go ahead after City of Perth commissioners last night approved $200,000 funding and up to $30,000 of in-kind venue hire.

But Fashion Council WA has been warned not to assume the same level of support can be offered every year for the annual event.

Organisers sought $275,000 this year but City staff recommended only $50,000, a figure that would have ensured the free events would be cancelled, according to Fashion Council WA chair Richard Poulson.

The recommended figure was about an 80 per cent reduction on what the City of Perth provided last year.

Commissioner Gaye McMath put the new figure forward at the Tuesday meeting, which received support from commissioner Andrew Hammond.

Chair commissioner Eric Lumsden was absent from the meeting.

Ms McMath said the short four-month notice for the huge reduction in funding was “not consistent with the spirit of a long term strategic partnership”.

She said “with the building works in Forrest Chase and the challenging retail environment, cancelling Fashion Central is not consistent with supporting city ratepayers and visitation to the city”.

“However, the Perth Fashion Festival do need to be on notice that the City has to make decisions consistent with the overall economic environment and budgetary constraints and should not automatically assume future support can be maintained at the same level as the past,” she said.

Mr Hammond said he wanted to see the City move to two-to-three year binding funding agreements and in doing so facilitate renegotiations in the last quarter of the penultimate year of the agreement.

Fashion Council WA Partnerships Manager Ragen Haythorpe welcomed the funding and in-kind support, but said the quality of events was dependent on the level of funding support.

“It would be sufficient for the three-day events to go ahead,” she said.

“The level of creative input and talent we can attract to host and stage those events will reflect the level of investment.”