Opposition arts spokesman pays a visit

CHAT: Bendigo Theatre Company's Loretta Kingston-Brown, Trella O'Loughlin and Gael Emond with Mark Dreyfus and Lisa Chesters. Picture: JIM ALDERSEY

CHAT: Bendigo Theatre Company's Loretta Kingston-Brown, Trella O'Loughlin and Gael Emond with Mark Dreyfus and Lisa Chesters. Picture: JIM ALDERSEY

FEDERAL opposition arts spokesman Mark Dreyfus wishes he had more time to enjoy central Victoria's arts scene.

Mr Dreyfus, who is also shadow attorney-general, is in Bendigo today for day two of a whistle-stop tour of the region's galleries, arts hubs and theatres.

"I only wish I had more time to enjoy all these places," he said.

"It has been fantastic. It was great to meet with the Castlemaine State Festival committee.

"The festival has produced wonderful benefits for the region. Local businesses have thrived as a result and people have moved to the region."

Mr Dreyfus said last week's Federal Budget included $100 million of cuts to the arts sector, which would include the biennial festival.

"The cuts will disproportionately affect small and regional organisations," he said.

Bendigo Theatre Company secretary Gael Emond said regional artists and performers were already disadvantaged compared with their capital-city counterparts.

Yesterday's stops also included Castlemaine's Lot 19 arts community, Bendigo Theatre Company's Arts Shed, La Trobe University's Visual Arts Centre, Bendigo Art Gallery and the Ulumbarra Theatre development.

Today's itinerary includes Bendigo's Golden Dragon Museum and Mount Macedon's Australian Emergency Management Institute which the federal government plans to close.

Federal member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters organised the tour to help further develop the region as an arts hub.

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