Arts Sector Blasts Abbott Government Budget Cuts

At today’s packed public hearing in Melbourne for the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs references Committee into the Impact of the 2014 and 2015 Commonwealth Budget decisions on the Arts, witnesses roundly condemned the Abbott Government’s attack on the arts.

 

THE HON. MARK DREYFUS QC, MP

 

SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ARTS

 

SENATOR CATRYNA BILYK

 

DEPUTY OPPOSITION WHIP IN THE SENATE

 

SENATOR FOR TASMANIA

 

ARTS SECTOR BLASTS ABBOTT GOVERNMENT BUDGET CUTS

 

At today’s packed public hearing in Melbourne for the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs references Committee into the Impact of the 2014 and 2015 Commonwealth Budget decisions on the Arts, witnesses roundly condemned the Abbott Government’s attack on the arts.

 

 

 

“Evidence given today shows that Senator Brandis completely fails to understand the arts sector,” Senator Bilyk said. “The cultural sector in Australia represents 4 per cent of GDP and is both diverse and interdependent, with individual artists and small companies vital to the survival of the major arts organisations.”

 

 

 

The Senate Committee has today heard that Senator Brandis’s cuts to the Australia Council will harm the entire sector.

 

 

 

“The Australia Council’s funding cycle has been thrown into disarray by the Government’s cuts,” Mark Dreyfus said. “International tours have been cancelled, private partners have pulled out of programs, and projects and programs have been cancelled, “ Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said.

 

 

 

“The guidelines for Senator Brandis’s slush fund are deliberately vague and fail to provide appropriate criteria for the assessment of organisations funded.”

 

Up to two of the three independent assessors for the NPEA will be appointed by the Minister, and the decisions need to be approved by the Minister himself.

 

 

 

“There is no definition of ‘excellence’ in the guidelines,” Senator Bilyk said. “There are no artistic criteria in the guidelines. These guidelines have been designed to ensure that the Minister has the widest possible discretion, allowing political interference in arts funding decisions . Under the guidelines, the Minister can even choose not to disclose the funding grants he makes.”

 

 

 

The Governments cuts will particularly affect small to medium arts organisations.

 

 

 

“The Committee heard today that the Australia Council supports the core operations of thousands of individuals and small and medium organisations”, said Senator Bilyk. “Representatives of such organisations today said they were facing “a vortex”, “a cliff”, or a “black-hole” as a result of the Government’s attack on the Australia Council”.

 

 

 

Mark Dreyfus said that this will harm the entire arts sector and may lead to job losses in the cultural sector.

 

 

 

“Major companies draw on artists from the small-to-medium sector. Without the continued survival of individual artists, and small-to-medium organisations, major arts organisations are unable to operate”, said Mr Dreyfus.

 


WEDNESDAY 5 AUGUST 2015