“Cultural diversity widens the range of options open to everyone; it is one of the roots of development understood not simply in terms of economic growth but also as a means to achieve a more satisfactory, emotional, moral and spiritual existence.” Article 3, UNESCO Univeral Declaration on Cultural Diversity (2001)
In July 2005, Maitland City Council proudly launched Maitland as City of the Arts 2005-2007, at a launch event held at MRAG. A major grant initiative of the NSW Ministry for Arts, headed by NSW Premier Bob Carr, the City of the Artsfunding program injected $300,000 funding for local cultural projects into the city over two years.
To be the chosen recipient of City of the Arts status is evidence of recognition at the highest level of our City’s diverse potential in the arts arena. Maitland is experiencing a true cultural renaissance, and this program will further cement the establishment and success of this significant growth.
Councillor Peter Blackmore, Mayor of the City of Maitland (2005). The City of the Arts status was designed to fast-track the development of arts projects and facilities, enhance opportunities for local artists and to increase participation in a wide range of cultural and heritage events. At the time, it was the largest single grant-funding program available to arts organisations in our state. Over the course of two years, Maitland and the Lower Hunter Area benefited in numerous ways from a wide range of events; exhibitions; education projects; community events; literary talks; and concerts – arguably a diverse and colourful range of cultural experiences, which have developed for the people of Maitland a taste for cultural diversity.
The NSW Government set up the City of the Arts program in 1995. Every two years a new regional centre is awarded the title. Prior to Maitland achieving the title, previous Cities of the Arts were: The Blue Mountains (1995-97); Broken Hill (1997-99); Armidale-Dumaresq (1999-2001); Hastings (2001-2003); and The Tweed (2003-05).