Music, News & Commentary, Stage, Visual Arts Commercial gallery receives a whopping $485k in first round of Fifield's Catalyst grants By Ben Neutze | February 2, 2016 | Federal Arts Minister Mitch Fifield today revealed the first three recipients of funding from his Catalyst arts program. The program evolved out of previous arts minister George Brandis’ much maligned National Program for Excellence in the Arts. According to the Arts Ministry, the first three recipients were fast-tracked to take advantage of unexpected opportunities. Suzanne O’Connell Gallery and Associates in Queensland, working with Girringun Aboriginal Corporation, are the big winners, receiving almost $500,000 to tour an exhibition of indigenous artworks to the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco. Some artists have already questioned whether such a large portion of funding should go towards a commercial gallery for one tour. Tamara Winikoff from the National Association for Visual Arts today noted that $500,000 could provide operational funding for two key arts organisations for a whole year. But the guidelines for the Catalyst fund emphasise “ambitious” projects and have a focus on international and cultural diplomacy. The other two grants are substantially more modest. Victoria’s Hush Foundation specialises in music and theatre designed to improve hospitals and healthcare settings. It will receive $50,000 to “perform a program of new Australian music and their play Hear Me, based on health issues, at the World Anaesthetic Congress Hong Kong 2016, one of the world’s largest medical congresses. The funding will also support performances at hospitals by Hush during the tour to China.” Western Australia’s celebrated theatre company The Last Great Hunt, whose works include the lo-fi puppetry festival hits The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik and Falling Through Clouds will receive $14,840 to “allow its award-winning production It’s Dark Outside to be performed at the 2016 International Performing Arts for Youth market in Montreal, Canada.” The Catalyst fund was developed after Brandis’ National Program for Excellence in the Arts attracted consistent criticism from the arts community. It was to take $105 million from the Australia Council’s budget over four years to create a new program within the ministry. After extensive consultation, Fifield returned $32 million to the Australia Council and remodelled Catalyst into a $12 million a year fund. Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn Email About the Author: Ben Neutze Ben Neutze is Deputy Editor of Daily Review. He has previously written for Time Out Sydney, The Guardian Australia and Limelight Magazine.