DRIVERS of Tamworth's proposed performing arts centre (PAC) say they're still confident of its future despite a major source of potential funding being exhausted two years earlier than expected - some of it against expert advice.
The consultants working on the PAC design and business case are in their final weeks of local meetings, and it's hoped locals and the council will have their report by late May.
And if all parties give it the tick of approval, backers say there are many "baskets" from which the money will come to build it.
Concerns were raised after it was revealed the NSW government had approved $3 million worth of arts projects that an expert panel had deemed were "not recommended" for funding.
That money went to 13 projects in Coalition-held state electorates and was part of the $100 million Regional Cultural Fund.
That fund was to be doled out in three rounds over four years, but this was revised into two rounds over two years.
Tamworth regional councillor and state election candidate Mark Rodda told media last week he feared some projects would "miss out" due to the "classic case of pork-barrelling".
"I wouldn't want to hold my breath that any government ... would have a keenness for a pot of cash like that in its first few years," Mr Rodda said.
'There will be other chances'
Council entertainment venues manager Peter Ross said: "It was disappointing when they moved the four years of funding into two years, but those things happen."
"I believe this project will have merit at any time, and there's new projects happening every day ... there will be plenty of other funding opportunities."
Once the plan was finalised, Mr Ross said, the proponents would identify sources of funding and work towards applying for it.
It was likely to come from the three tiers of government, and from pools earmarked for not just performing arts, but for outcomes such as education and regional development.
He said it would need "a forward-thinking council ... support from state and federal government" and funding "most likely from a number of different sources".
Mr Ross said the project was "progressing quite nicely"; Mr Gillett said it was "exceedingly promising".
The Leader also attempted to contact Tamworth Regional Arts and Cultural Advisory Committee chairman Glenn Inglis.