Arts Funding Body Welcomes Budget Backflip
Tuesday, 24th November 2015 at 11:08 am
After continued pressure from the arts sector, the Federal Government has partially reversed its controversial budget cuts, in a move welcomed by Australia’s peak body for arts funding.
In May, then arts minister, Senator George Brandis, cut more than $104 million from the Australia Council for the Arts, which funds artists and arts organisations through an independent, peer review process, and reassigned it to his National Program for Excellence in the Arts (NPEA) fund, which the Opposition labelled a “slush fund”.
Following Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s cabinet reshuffle, the new Arts Minister, Mitch Fifield, announced that the Catalyst Australian Arts and Culture Fund would replace NPEA. He also said that $8 million would be returned to the Australia Council.
“I've been at great pains to spend a lot of time with the Australian arts community and to listen and the intention always was with the National Program for Excellence that it would be reshaped in the light of feedback from the Australian artistic community and that's what's happened,” Fifield told the ABC.
“And as a result of that, we have repurposed $8 million to the Australia Council in recognition of their important role in supporting small and medium organisations and particularly individual artists.
“But we've also refashioned a new program called Catalyst which will seek to complement the Australia Council and Creative Partnerships Australia and to fill some of the gaps.”
While the Australia Council welcomed the return of funding, CEO Tony Grybowski, said $8 million per annum would only partially address the $31.4 million impact of the 2015-16 budget cuts.
“I am pleased this will enable us to increase investment in the two core grant rounds for 2015-16, providing project support for individuals, groups and small to medium organisations to create and present work, as well as a range of other arts activity. The flexibility of the Council’s new grants model will allow us to immediately allocate funds,” Grybowski said.
“Following the May Budget announcements the Council had to cancel two of our four core grant rounds for this year, with $12 million to be invested through those rounds in contrast to the $26 million intended. The Council is now able to increase that investment to $19 million for this year.
“In 2016-17 the Council will deliver three core grant rounds with an overall investment of approximately $18 million. We consider this to be the minimum viable level, compared to the planned $26 million intended through four rounds,” he said.