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29 May 2015

Arts budget 2015: news summary

Arts budget 2015: news summary

UPDATED 4 JUNE - call for Senate enquiry by ArtsPeak, plus new links. Our summary update of currently known facts concerning the announcements related to the 2015-2016 budget and their implications to arts funding. We'll be following the situation and posting updates and commentary, as they come available, on the AMC's Twitter feed @ausmusiccentre and Facebook page.

There has been a great deal of uncertainty in the arts world in the aftermath of Minister George Brandis's budget announcements, according to which $104.7M of funding will be redirected from the Australia Council for the Arts to his own Ministry for the Arts for a new funding program entitled the National Programme for Excellence in the Arts 'to support endowments, international touring and strategic projects, with an emphasis on attracting private sector support'. Also announced were a boost of funding to Creative Partnerships Australia to foster private sector support for the arts, and the return to the Ministry of the 'Visions of Australia' and 'Festivals Australia' programs. The Australia Council for the Arts will also need to find $7.3m in efficiency dividends. The Minister's announcement is available on the Ministry for the Arts website - see also full media release.

As funding for the major performing art organisations remains guaranteed, the bulk of the effect, it was feared, would be felt by the small-to-medium art organisations and companies, and individual artists. This assumption was soon proved correct by the Australia Council for the Arts who on 21 May announced that the six-year funding program for organisations, already underway, will not proceed from the EOI stage to the full application. Also announced was the cancellation of the June 2015 grant round. Further to this, the ArtStart, Creative Communities Partnerships Initiative and Artists in Residence programs will not be offered in the future. Read the full text of Australia Council's announcement.

The precise form that the new National Programme for Excellence in the Arts will take is as yet unclear, although some detail emerged from last Wednesday's (27 May) Senate estimates, where the Minister was questioned about it. The program will 'assist with the cost of delivering arts and cultural projects on an annual or multi-year basis' and it will have three separate funding streams: endowment stream, international and cultural diplomacy stream, and a strategic initiative stream. It is not yet clear if peer review will be part of the application process for these funding streams. Guidelines will have been finalised by July when applications for the new program will also open. For some more detail about the funding streams and the Senate estimates hearing, see this article on ArtsHub or this article on Crikey.com.

The confederation of national peak arts organisations ArtsPeak is calling for a Senate inquiry - for details, see the media release (1 June 2015).

A petition by the Australian Unions has gathered over 10,000 signatures (4 June) opposing the new arts-related budget measures. Several other petitions are also being circulated.

In a separate announcement, the Minister this has confirmed additional funding for two art organisations, the Bell Shakespeare Company ($1.28 million to continue its education program) and the Australian Ballet ($150,000 for a tour to China).

More news & commentary

ArtsPeak calls for Senate inquiry - media release on NAVA website (1 June 2015)
'Push for Senate inquiry into Budget AusCo cuts' - by Richard Watts on Artshub (2 June 2015)
'The Brandis Heist' - by Dick Letts, the Music Trust website (2 June 2015)
'The Art Of Being George Brandis: How To Destroy A Sector Without Even Really Trying' - by Ben Eltham, New Matilda (2 June 2015)
'Inside George Brandis's Australia Council arts heist' - by Martin McKenzie-Murray in The Saturday Paper (29 May 2015)
'Why nobody knew - budget 2015 revelation' - by Ben Eltham on ArtsHub (28 May 2015)
'Captains calls and culture war - the future of Australia arts' - by Jeff Sparrow in the Guardian (28 May 2015)
'Donors slam new arts fund program' - by Michaela Boland, The Australian (27 May 2015)
'There is no future in being bland - Kim Williams on science and the arts' - ABC RN (25 May)
'How Brandis plans to insulate the arts sector from the artists' - by Jennifer Hamilton in the Conversation (25 May 2015)
'Australia Council cuts six-year funding in wake of Brandis budget cuts, dance protests planned' - the Sydney Morning Herald (22 May)
'Brandis on new arts funding body' - ABC RN (19 May 2015)


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