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Big arts companies expected to help those hurt by Brandis' cuts says Martin Foley

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Major arts companies will be expected to help dig smaller companies and artists out of the $105 million hole the federal Arts Minister George Brandis has left in the Australia Council budget — at least in Victoria, says its Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley.
“We can’t fill a $105 million hole of which 25% would be Victorian funding,” Foley told Daily Review. “We will be expecting everyone we fund to do more to support the ecology.”
Citing the big companies including Circus Oz and Opera Australia among the 31 organisations that receive funding from both the Australia Council and the Victorian government, Foley said his department of Creative Industries would be having discussions to let the big players know “they have to take a greater leadership and partnering role”.
Foley said these companies have all had their Australia Council June 2015 grants system put on hold, along with hundreds of individual artists.
“On our estimation that means that about 18 months of Australia Council funding is out of the system. So while these cuts are starting to hurt now the impact won’t really start to roll through for another 18 months to two years,” he said.
Foley has been highly critical of George Brandis’ Australia Council cuts which transfers $105 million from the arm’s length Australia Council to his own department under the National Program for Excellence in the Arts which will dispense about $80 million to those organisations that satisfy its idea of excellence.
“If you read the (NPEA) guidelines issued, and if you ask questions of the department then the three or five person panels he’s going to set up (to decide grants) have a built in majority for the department.
“This is the arts minister who served under Howard and he has very firm views on what he sees as bums-on-seats driven approach and he sees the big institutions as that.
“We have to wait to see what the Brandis’ changes mean. If it is going to redirect the funds away from the small to medium sector to the bigger end of town — what does that mean for the state contribution?” Foley asked.
In June, Foley sent Brandis a letter arguing that the Federal government’s changes to arts funding “risk ripping the heart out of our vital independent sector, with consequences for the entire system”.
“Collectively, Victoria’s small arts organisations are our largest employers of artists and arts workers, and reach the largest and most diverse audience, including young people, those from culturally diverse backgrounds a in regional and rural areas,” he wrote.
Brandis has not responded.
Foley told Daily Review that a Boston Consulting study commissioned by the Victorian government estimated that the creative industries — which include arts, design, games, publishing, film and fashion — are worth $22 billion to the Victorian economy and employ 220,000 people. “That’s 8% of the economy (and) is nearly as big as the manufacturing sector and bigger than the construction sector,” he said.
The changes come as Foley’s department has been holding 28 consultative sessions round the state under a Creative Industries “Taskforce” –“encouraging whatever idea, wacky or sensible to put on the table” — to formulate a future strategy for their industries.
“And this has not just been the usual players but economists, financiers, gamers. The first report will be in October which can feed into the government’s decision-making frameworks for next year”
Foley said the Brandis cuts had not derailed the Taskforce’s agenda. “No, it’s given it a greater sense of importance and focus as a pivot point — on one hand here’s the unilateral Federal government actions and here’s the Victorian government seeking to be as consultative as it can be,” he said.
Read more on Brandis’ cuts
(Some) local and international artists voice their anger at Brandis’ cuts 
You can read the NPEA Draft Guidelines here.
New details emerge about Brandis’ arts “Slush fund” 
The Brandis raid so far …in pictures
Video: Artists protest Opera Australia opening 
MTC (sort of) weighs in to Brandis’ arts cuts controversy 
Protest planned for Opera Australia opening night
Major arts companies issue fresh statement on Brandis’ cuts
Senate Inquiry launched into Brandis’ arts cuts
Australia Council cuts: the companies on the chopping block
Editorial: Shameful silence over arts cuts
The Brandis Heist

2 responses to “Big arts companies expected to help those hurt by Brandis' cuts says Martin Foley

  1. One Cheer for George.
    Look I think Brandis has done the Arts a favour in reverse. Federal Labor had given up on the Arts, completely given up. Rudd gave no stimulis money to the Arts sector even though it employs so many. Labor had no plan really and for that I blame the Arts sector itself. Too many people are employed in Govt funded jobs and forget that constant innovation is the key. Of course when faced with such public service inertia Governments will get tired.
    I haven’t heard one argument or suggestion that is not just asking for the status quo back. Surely the Big Companies can give no more than charity out of guilt. I say let’s have a National Lottery for the Arts & Sciences. Why should Packer get all the gambling money!?

  2. Scot we privatized lotteries years ago.
    The changes to how funds are awarded ( there has not been in CPI terms a reduction in the total size of the pool) are , for better or worse, a done deed. The Senate and the `industry’ can huf and puff but the funding of the ozco is an aproprations bill – can be rejected( in full) but not amended.

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