Australia Council Cuts Come To Devastating Fruition

Today 62 major and well-respected arts organisations have received the devastating news that they have been defunded by the Australia Council, in some cases threatening their ongoing existence.

THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP
SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL
SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ARTS
MEMBER FOR ISAACS

AUSTRALIA COUNCIL CUTS COME TO DEVASTATING FRUITION

Today 62 major and well-respected arts organisations have received the devastating news that they have been defunded by the Australia Council, in some cases threatening their ongoing existence.

The organisations who are now having to reassess their future include literary journal Meanjin, dance company Legs on the Wall and the 30-year-old Centre for Contemporary Photography in Melbourne. Adelaide-based companies Slingsby and Vitalstatistix have also been stripped of ongoing funding.

Adding insult to injury, this news comes just days after the Abbott-Turnbull Government snuck out $24 million in grants through Catalyst, its ministerial slush fund, destroying the principle of arms-length, independent funding for the arts in this country. Several of the projects have gone directly against Catalyst’s own guidelines, and have been used to boost the prospects of Liberal MPs in marginal seats.

Today’s awful news is the direct result of the Abbott-Turnbull Government’s $105 million cut to the Australia Council in the 2014 Budget, part of which was used to set up the ministerial slush fund. The $32 million subsequently returned to the Australia Council did little to solve the problem, leaving a massive shortfall, the impact of which we are now seeing.

The Abbott-Turnbull Government’s cuts to the arts and blatant political misuse of Catalyst funding is an outrage.

The Daily Review was on the money when it asked whether this week was one of the worst ever for Australian arts, but it could have gone much further – the past three years of the Abbott-Turnbull Government have been the worst the arts sector has ever seen.

Labor is the party of the arts. A Shorten Labor Government will abolish Catalyst, return funding to the Australia Council, and restore integrity and confidence to arts funding in this country.

FRIDAY, 13 MAY 2016