Too Little Too Late - Arts Slush Fund Still Bad Policy

Arts Minister Mitch Fifield has today announced further changes to arts funding policy, partially redesigning the Liberal Government’s ministerial arts slush fund.

THE HON. MARK DREYFUS QC, MP

SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ARTS

MEMBER FOR ISAACS

 

TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE – ARTS SLUSH FUND STILL BAD POLICY


Arts Minister Mitch Fifield has today announced further changes to arts funding policy, partially redesigning the Liberal Government’s ministerial arts slush fund.

Clearly the Government has been forced to revisit the pet project of the former Arts Minister Senator Brandis, an unloved policy he foisted on the arts sector with no prior consultation.

But a new name and a marketing reboot does not change the basic problems with the Government’s arts fund.

 

The Government will return just $32 million of the $105 million stripped from the independent Australia Council for the Arts.

 

This is still a ministerial slush fund, under the personal and direct control of the Minister for the Arts.

 

This slush fund still breaks dramatically with the decades-long consensus in Australian arts policy that funding decisions should be peer-reviewed and made at arms-length from government.

 

This is not a win for the arts. It is an ongoing fiasco. Senator Brandis’s bungling of arts policy has already caused enormous damage to many arts organisations.

 

Their plans, programs and activities have been put on hold for almost a year. Many small organisations have not been able to continue operations and have closed up. Months of effort spent preparing applications to the Australia Council for six year funding was wasted when that process was thrown into disarray by the Government.

 

Mitch Fifield says he has consulted the arts sector. Clearly he has not listened to what was loud and clear at hearings of the Senate inquiry into the Government’s slush fund, where the overwhelming view was that all the money taken from the Australia Council should be returned, and arms-length, peer-reviewed funding restored.

 

Today’s announcement nothing more than tinkering with what remains a deeply-flawed arts funding model.


FRIDAY 20 NOVEMBER 2015