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New details revealed about Brandis’ arts ‘slush fund’

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The Australian World Orchestra (AWO) which received $600,000 from Arts Minister George Brandis is closely associated with Brandis’ policy adviser, Michael Napthali, Daily Review sister site Crikey revealed today.

The AWO has received $1.15 million — two grants of $600,000 and $550,000 — from the Arts Ministry under Brandis. Napthali is a former board member of the AWO. A spokesperson for Brandis told Crikey that Napthali had stepped down from the role upon taking up his position in the Arts Minister’s office and had not been involved with AWO funding matters.

Crikey reports that In November 2014, the minister spoke at the launch of the AWO’s touring season and told journalists that giving  $600,000 to the AWO was “one of the happiest things I was able to do in my early days as the Arts Minister”.

AWO was given the cash outside of normal federal arts funding procedures which are usually assessed and granted at arm’s length via the Australia Council.

Industry sources have told Crikey that Napthali has been closely involved in discussions between Brandis and the major performing arts organisations in which those organisations were urged not to protest against the Australia Council cuts.

As the senior policy adviser in the Arts portfolio, Napthali is a key player in Brandis’ decision to strip $105 million from the Australia Council and give it to a new National Programme for Excellence in the Arts. The Labor opposition called the Excellence Programme a “slush fund”.

Read the full story on Crikey

Read more about George Brandis’ raid on the Australia Council

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

6 responses to “New details revealed about Brandis’ arts ‘slush fund’

    1. This is in effect the Murdoch press giving itself money. They’re just funding mates that they like, without having to go through the tedious effort of applying for funding. Hence the slush fund title.

    1. Do you not think that the Ozco just went through a major structural overhaul following two years of national consultation and a review?

  1. So much is wrong with this NPEA move at too many levels to mention here.
    Apart from my own work (dance / performance) that reaches wide across Australia (including regional) and OS, I also work for many companies who are looking at a massive down-sizing or closure. A horror story repeated over and over and over again.
    Hundreds of thousands of people are are going to be affected by this and will be out of work whilst the ‘rich bastards art’ will get richer. Strnage democracy we’re having.
    Signed this. Our new CommunityRun campaign that Get Up! will get behind if it takes off. Ta,

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