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Major performing arts companies issue new statement on Brandis’ cuts

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The Australian Major Performing Arts Group (AMPAG), the body which represents Australia’s 28 largest performing arts companies, has today released a new statement addressing George Brandis’ raid on the Australia Council to create his own funding body, the controversial National Programme for Excellence in the Arts (NPEA).

AMPAG has been under significant pressure to speak publicly about the cuts, but the statement again indicates that the group is waiting for further information about the NPEA. AMPAG released a similar short statement immediately following the budget announcement.

AMPAG acknowledges the importance of a healthy small-to-medium arts sector, and acknowledges that there are significant concerns as to how those artists and organisations will be impacted by the changes.

But the statement says that AMPAG understands the NPEA will open to organisations across the entire sector. While full details have yet to be released, some reports say that the NPEA will not be open to freelance or individual artists, who are major recipients of grants under the Australia Council.


AMPAG statement: 17 June, 2015

There is a significant concern in the arts sector that the shift in funding from the Australia Council’s grant program to the NPEA will reduce the overall level of funds available to nurture and develop artistic vibrancy and opportunities for emerging artists in the small medium and independent sector.

The transferring of funds from the Australia Council has created significant uncertainty and instability in the small to medium sector. It has come in the middle of the Australia Council’s grant assessment process for this part of the sector. The budget announcement has stopped that process.

The artistic value and contribution of the small to medium arts organisations and independent artists is significant and important, but their ongoing existence is fragile. The MPA companies have a significant role to develop artists and the art form, and we recognise that our own work and our own long-term vibrancy is entwined, with and impacted by, the overall health and vibrancy of the broader arts ecosystem.

We support an adequately funded arts ecosystem that is vibrant and accessible. Artists and arts companies are no different from any business…they grow and thrive best when they have a level of certainty about their future.

We do know the NPEA will be open to applicants from across the arts sector. We do not yet know how the NPEA will work, but its focus on endowments, international engagement and strategic initiatives is, on face value, one that would benefit the sector as a whole. The devil as always will be in the detail.

AMPAG, as a representative body, and all of our member companies are committed to the success of the overall arts ecosystem in this country, and we will be working with everyone who has an interest in growing and developing the sector. The key is firstly to maximise the pool of funds available to the sector, whether from government, sponsorship or philanthropy. Secondly we need to ensure those funds which are invested by government are allocated through the sector in an effective, efficient and transparent manner.

John Irving

Bethwyn Serow
AMPAG Executive Director


Read more on Brandis’ Australia Council raid:

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

6 responses to “Major performing arts companies issue new statement on Brandis’ cuts

  1. This statement does not address the fundamental issue at stake, which is the transfer of funds from the Australia Council – which employs an artistic peer-reviewed process to assess allocations and award grants – to a new body which it appears will award grants at the whim of the Minister. The small-to-medium and independent sector will undoubtedly be the ones to suffer because of the sequestering of funds for the Major Organisations and also because of the Minister’s publicly avowed cultural preferences for opera, ballet, classical music and the art of the past (which are as inappropriate coming from an Arts Minister as are statements about ‘people having the right to be bigots’ coming from an Attorney-General). His real agenda is to weaken the Australia Council, punish artists for their political disobedience and make an arrogant grab for power. The fundamental issue however is about the legitimacy of the process – and of this Arts Minister.

  2. Fascism rises over Oz.
    When a government starts dictating what’s on and what’s not in the arts it’s a sure sign.
    Our very own Speer is here.

  3. Well maybe Brandis isn’t there for much longer. The Big companies and the Big State Galleries and National Gallery themselves choose what and who to support anyway. Ditto Australia Council. There is this naive assumption everywhere that Brandis is somehow acting contrary to how the Australian Arts sector works, he isn’t. Nepotism, elitism, exclusion/ inclusion, abuse of artist’s rights happens all the time in the Australian arts world. Everyone knows this. Its the pot calling the kettle black! Sure their should be some sort of separation of powers BUT really all Australian Art is Government Art and this latest episode proves that!

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