WAGGA'S art community has been left reeling after the federal government made the shock decision to abolish its dedicated arts department.
The change will see a total of four departments in public service axed along with five departmental secretaries sacked, dissolving 18 departments into 14.
The Department of Communications and the Arts will be merged with other departments to create the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.
Deputy Prime Minister and Member for Riverina, Michael McCormack supported Prime Minister Scott Morrison's decision, but the Wagga community hold concerns for the art industry's future.
David Gilbey, who has heavy involvement in the city's arts scene, said the move would see creativity marginalised.
"Especially in regional places, art gets set aside, forgotten, and in its place most departments add more complex processes for communications so arts practitioners are kept beyond arm's length," he said.
Mr Gilbey refuted the government's justification of "improving efficiency".
"My prediction is that we will see a reduction in grant success, an added a layer of complexity in grant submission protocol, and artists and support workers themselves will suffer which we have found already," he said.
"All this does is benefit politicians, it doesn't benefit regional communities and the arts where it actually matters."
Mr Gilbey said the industry was already being knocked down before the change came to fruition.
"Already, arts practitioners and art academics are feeling the pinch, the state government already cut the grant to the writers' centre here in Wagga by one quarter which seemed thoughtless and immediately made jobs of support people at the centre untenable," he said.
"If [the government] consulted arts people in the region they'd find out how important it is."
The lack of consultation was reflective of a trend Mr Gilbey felt was gaining motion in the government.
"You could say this is even trending toward secrecy, they're always pushing people out, keeping them out, it's a worrying trend," he said.
Mr McCormack said the move was a bid to "put the needs of Australians at the centre of government".
"Having fewer departments will allow us to bust bureaucratic congestion, improve decision-making and ultimately deliver better services for the Australian people, so, yes, I think it is a good move," he said.
Mr McCormack dismissed claims the change would see a reduction in services.
"There will be no diminution of services currently provided by the Department of Communication and the Arts and it is not right to claim the government is saying communication is not worthy of a department," he said.
"This government has done more in the areas of the arts and improving communications than any previous government and will continue to do so."
Mr McCormack referred to delivering a $37,700 grant to Eastern Riverina Arts for its OLD:NEW curated museum exhibition as an example.
Wagga School of Arts marketing manager Fay Walters labelled the decision "disastrous".
"This is a very sad day for many Australians who embrace the arts in all its forms, plus journalists, television news, radio news and feature programs that all benefit the population at large, as well as many regional areas who are dependent on these news sources will be even more isolated," she said.
"Regional areas in particular have had limited doors open to them to assist with the development of the arts, but remain ever hopeful of keeping their community creative sources operating. With this edict they will now have a greater struggle to survive."
The Department of Communications and the Arts was contacted but declined to comment.