When it comes to arts funding, even in an emergency, it seems that nothing can quell Belco pride.
The Belconnen Arts Centre emerged as the big winner when it came to emergency arts funding from the ACT government last month, receiving more than half of the $1 million one-off fund announced in May.
But the funding, which will go towards getting the newly expanded northside facility up and running after the completion of its $15 million expansion, has raised eyebrows in an arts community where extra cash is almost always hard to come by.
The $550,000 will allow the newly expanded centre, which had recently completed a major expansion that had almost doubled its size, to start using its new site and announcing new programs.
In the meantime, other organisations have been left wondering whether they should have asked for more money, or applied in the first place.
Chief executive of the Tuggeranong Arts Centre Rauny Worm said she and her team "felt really slapped in the face" when they learned that not only had they received just $54,105, half of what they had applied for, but that this was a tiny fraction of the amount being received by Belconnen.
"The situation is hard enough at the moment as it is, but that was a real kick in the gut, and we really felt, wow, this is how much we're worth to the ACT government," she said.
"It's not just the arts, it's Tuggeranong. We're becoming more and more the very poor cousin, so it's not just about us, it's our community."
Canberra arts organisations were invited to apply for a share of around $1 million in emergency COVID relief funding from the ACT government on May 12.
In a letter from head of ArtsACT Sam Tyler, the stipulations set out around the funding were explicitly narrow, stating that organisations should only request funding to replace lost revenue for the remainder of 2020, and that only those organisations that would be unlikely to survive without extra funding need apply.
"An organisation that has had material negative impact would include those that cannot remain a going concern in the short to medium term and be able to pay bills during this time as they fall due, including for core staff salaries and office/administration costs, so the organisation can continue to operate," Ms Tyler's letter read.
"It is not intended that every organisation will demonstrate need for this funding or that all of the $1m will be expended if the need is not demonstrated.
"We expect that organisations will only make a submission in critical circumstances and as a direct result of COVID-19.
"Please carefully consider your request, noting that there are limited resources and some organisations will have greater requirements than others based on their individual contexts in remaining a going concern."
Ms Tyler's letter listed 17 organisations that would be eligible to apply, but only nine did.
And while all nine received funding, the Belconnen Arts Centre received more than half of the total amount.
Other organisations, meanwhile, did not apply because they didn't believe, based on the criteria, that they would be eligible.
For example, the director of Megalo Print Studio, Ingeborg Hansen, withdrew the studio's application once it was confirmed they would receive the federal government's JobKeeper payment to cover staff costs.
General Manager of QL2 Dance Amelie Langevin said her team did not apply for the funding because they felt others would need it more.
When announcing the results of the funding on June 24, ACT arts minister Gordon Ramsay singled out Belconnen, explaining that the $550,000 "forms part of the government's commitment to provide additional core funding for the increase in costs of managing the centre to the end of 2021, in line with other arts organisations".
A spokesman has since confirmed that the Belconnen facility had been in a "unique position whereby the need for support for the remainder of the year also coincides with completion of a completely new building component and a program direction that had not yet been fully funded".
"Before this funding was provided, Belconnen Arts Centre had no operational funding confirmed for stage two operations beyond the end of June 2020," the spokesman said.
Chief executive of the centre Jack Lloyd said the centre had expected its further funding would be announced in this year's ACT budget.
However, due to COVID, the budget didn't eventuate, and the centre was left without the funding that had been built into its long-term planning. Mr Lloyd said he and his team were advised that the emergency fund would be the only way it would be likely to get the funding it had originally hoped to receive through the budget, and without it, would not have been able to continue.
"We would have obviously had to make some really difficult decisions. We wouldn't have been able to take management of the building from ArtsACT for instance," he said.
The centre opened in 2009 with plans for further expansions in place. It now has a black-box theatre and rehearsal space, as well as a foyer, bar and cafe.
"It's comparable in size as a facility to the street theatre, and an expansion to our existing building, so it really is a very expensive facility that's really full of possibility now across all arts forms," Mr Lloyd said.
But Ms Worm said the Tuggeranong Art Centre, a facility with comparable aims - and currently the only art facility for outer-south Canberra - had not received any funding increase for nine years, and had effectively been left to languish.
"For us, it's getting harder and harder to operate. We just can't grow," she said.
"While we chug along and under normal circumstances we find ways to raise our revenue... you can only increase program fees so much."
She said she had no doubt that the reason Belconnen Arts Centre received so much funding was political.
"I think it's solely political. The election is going to be battled out in other places, not in Tuggeranong," she said.
"Someone's got to say it. I've been in Tuggeranong for six years now, and it's not just me, it's my whole team. Working in the arts is hard enough, because we're not the public service, we do it pretty tough a lot of the time, we work long hours, we work late, we work weekends.
"When there is an opportunity for a bit more recognition, it really helps us, and we're just not feeling that we're getting that at the moment."