Free the Arts
We’re writing to ask for your voice of support.
What is happening?
Senator Brandis recently announced a plan to shift $104 million dollars from the arms-length Australia Council for the Arts to a ministerial controlled ‘National Programme for Excellence’ which will administer the funds directly from the minister’s office.
Below are some links with more information about the changes and the uncertainty it has created in the arts community.
What is concerning about the change?
The principal of arms-length funding and the rigorous peer-review process for arts funding is an important feature of Australian Arts Funding because it ensures excellence, innovation and diversity in the sector and it removes the possibility for political interference in deciding what artwork is created and supported
The move to bring funds under ministerial control is akin to allowing the sports minister to pick the Australian cricket team, rather than the expert selection panel best placed to make that difficult decision.
It is also evident that some of the worst hit by the change will be the thriving independent and small-to-medium sector which is the breeding ground of new talent and innovative new Australian work, in the same way that the VFL and grassroots football clubs feed the AFL.
What is Melbourne Playback’s position?
Melbourne Playback is a not-for-profit organisation which operates as a social enterprise so we do not directly rely on Federal Government funding to survive. However, some of our community projects are made possible through state and local government grants that will feel a knock-on effect from the changes.
And critically, our company’s success relies on the independent artists who form the ensemble. The health of our company is directly related to the health of the arts sector in Australia.
Like any ecosystem, all the different organisations, individuals and artworks are connected and dependent on each other to ensure a thriving arts sector. The artists who work for Melbourne Playback also work on independent projects and on projects with major performing arts organisations. Our work on those projects influences the quality and style of our work with Melbourne Playback and make it possible for us to have sustainable careers.
A number of our partner organisations, cultural festivals and the venues we rehearse and perform in are under direct threat because of the proposed funding changes; La Mama, St Martin’s Youth Arts, Dancehouse, Multicultural Arts Victoria, Footscray Community Arts Centre and many more.
What can you do?
Write a submission to the recently launched senate enquiry (closes 17 July, 2015)
Join the Facebook group #freethearts where up-to-date news and action is being shared
Write to your local MP and Senator and tell them why the arts are important to you
Share this post using the links below
Richard Watts Arts Hub article ‘Mobilising audiences to oppose Australia Council Budget cuts’
ABC Radio ‘Arts industry converges on Canberra to protest Government cuts’
The Age article ‘George Brandis turns arts into ‘political football’
The Guardian article ‘I’m an artist and I’ve received grants, want to know what I do with all that money?’
The Australian article ‘Sector adjusts to funding revamp’