Heritage, arts trusts among grant recipients

Community grants totalling more than $140,000 have been approved by the Central Otago District Council to help support a range of activities across the region.

At a full council meeting earlier this month, councillors were asked to consider applications totalling $142,506.

The grants approved include $56,250 to the Central Otago Heritage Trust to continue employment of a heritage co-ordinator, $83,756 to the Central Otago District Arts Trust to pay salary and operational costs, and an application from Alexandra and Districts Pipe Band Inc for $2500 to assist with the annual hire of the Alexandra Baptist Church Hall.

The streamlining of the grants process was also discussed.

A comprehensive review of the grants policy took place in August 2019 followed by further reviews in June last year and in January, council community development adviser Rebecca Williams said.

The reviews were to streamline the process and improve the "community experience" in using the policy.

In this funding round both the Central Otago Heritage Trust and the Central Otago District Arts Trust applied for 15 months of funding, but staff recommended they should receive either four or 16 months of funding, to align the term of their grants with those of all other applicants and ensure all applicants were on the same funding cycle.

The staff assessment of the arts trust application had highlighted the alignment issue, Ms Williams said in her report.

In May, the council was asked to consider providing a hardship grant to the arts trust in recognition of the change in operational timelines for the council funding rounds imposed by the new grants policy.

That request was granted, and the council allocated $8750 for that purpose.

That hardship grant amount was then deducted from the trust’s annual grant, meaning the operational timelines were not adjusted.

As a consequence, it was recommended a one-off additional adjustment be paid to both the arts and heritage trusts of $13,334 each, which equated to four months of funding for each organisation.

That ensured both organisations received the existing levels of funding from the council until the first funding round of either the 2022-23 or 2023-24 financial years.