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Arts sector calls on parliament to block funding cuts

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A group described as a “whole of industry alliance of arts and cultural sector organisations” by the Free The Arts protest group will send delegates to Canberra on Thursday to meet with the major parties to address “the damage caused by the latest round of funding cuts to the Australia Council”, according to a statement released this morning.

Free The Arts is organised by a group of artists around the the country. Its spokesman Norm Horton said 60 “industry leaders” will go to Canberra this week, though he said members of the 28 major performing arts companies who form AMPAG (and are exempt from Arts Minister George Brandis’ $105 million cuts to the Australia Council) “have mostly stayed away”  from participating.

He said a full list of  delegates was not available but among those attending are Tamara Winikoff (executive director National Association of Visual Arts), Henry Boston (executive director Chamber of Arts and Culture WA),  Jade Lillie  (CEO Footscray Community Arts Centre), Roslyn Dundas (Ausdance) and Jami Bladel (artistic director Kickstart Arts).

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The Free The Arts statement, June 16

“A whole of industry alliance of arts and cultural sector organisations is calling on Parliament to reject plans by Arts Minister George Brandis to cut funding from the Australia Council as part of this year’s Budget to set up a Ministerial fund.

“We call on the Parliament to reject Senator Brandis’ reckless and damaging plan to establish the National Programme for Excellence in the Arts (NPEA) within his own Ministry. NPEA duplicates existing functions of the Australia Council without the safeguard of independence. We call on the Minister to ensure competitive funding decisions are made on the basis of arm’s length peer assessment rather than political favours or Ministerial personal taste,” said a spokesperson for the Free the Arts campaign.

A national delegation of 60 arts industry leaders representing many thousands of artists and organisations from across the country is gathering at Parliament House on Thursday, June 18. The delegation will meet with the major parties to urgently address the damage caused by the latest round of funding cuts to the Australia Council.

“Arts Minister George Brandis has cut $104.8 million over four years from the Australia Council which follows cuts of over $120 million last year from arts, screen and cultural sector programs. This includes Screen Australia losing $3.6 million on top of the $38 million cut it suffered last year and the termination of new streams of funding for sector development around the interactive games industry.

“The cuts put extraordinary pressure on artists, funding agencies and philanthropists across the country. It comes just months into the implementation of the new Australia Council strategic plan that Senator Brandis publicly and enthusiastically launched last August.

“Hardest hit will be the more than 400 hundred small-to-medium organisations in the process of applying to the Council’s new $30 million six year funding program.

“Australia Council data shows that in a successful trial of the six year funding model organisations generated an additional $8 of income for every $1 invested by the Council. The arts sector is at risk of losing $1.44 billion in leveraged income over the next six years, and with it hundreds of jobs in communities across the country.

“The Arts Minister has not only failed to grow investment in arts and culture but he has also failed to develop a coherent or visible national arts and cultural policy to replace the one he axed last year.

“The Australia Council has been cut off at the knees just as it was working to become a more nimble and responsive funding body with a clear mandate to support and promote a distinctively Australian arts practice.

“This is arts policy on the run and the Australian arts and cultural sector deserves better. We call on Senator Brandis to immediately restore the funding and the Parliament to reject these damaging changes.”

Read more on Brandis’ Australia Council raid:

Australia Council cuts: the companies on the chopping block

Editorial: Shameful silence over arts cuts

The Brandis Heist

One response to “Arts sector calls on parliament to block funding cuts

  1. Instead of just wanting to restore the cuts why not ask for more? Why not propose a National Lottery for the Arts & Sciences. Then things can really flourish. Australia always relies on Govt, we make Govt Art! BE CREATIVE PEOPLE!

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