We by now know what the Federal government has done in regards to arts funding. In the 2015-16 budget the Federal Arts Minister George Brandis plans to remove $104.8 million from the Australia Council’s budget over the next 4 years and fund a newly developed fund. If you look at the list of 145 arts organisations that are going to have their funding cut. This is a huge blow to our industry, these are some of the groups that we have worked for in the past and hopefully in the future. The way George Brandis is swinging the axe some of us will be visiting Centrelink to top up our income. Now you might say there is now going to be another fund to help finance and support these arts groups. Maybe? Extra staff used to run this second funding body will eat in to the finances. Also how independent will this second tier body be? It seems that the Minister wants to have a final say over who gets funding. Does this mean that some arts group will receive very little funding as they may disagree with the current government on policies? Does this mean the end of “Freedom of Expression” for the arts, if the government does not like you – you don’t receive any funding. This is a very scary thought. It is just not only performing arts groups that are being hit, libraries, art galleries, publishing and educational arts group have also been hit. The site “Crikey” has an extensive list here. So it will not just be folks on stage or backstage that will be affected.
Do we want to see art that is controlled by the state – is this a form of political censorship? Are we going to see more “safe” art, nothing that will challenge the viewer/ participant? Diversity is the key for great art to happen. You may not like some of it, but it is a process of understanding and developing. We need to encourage the developing arts, the emerging artists – no matter what feild they are involved in.
It seems that the arts often comes off second best. The politicians seem to forget that the arts has many benefits to the well-being of the population.
Encouraging people to attend cultural events has been shown to have a positive effect on bloodpressure and hormone levels(Konlaan, 2000)
It seems that the human condition requires arts as well as sport, education to develop to be a positive part of society. But it needs to develop freely without being lead down one path that has a singular viewpoint. We need to see a variety of views to develop as a human being. It would be like the government saying we all must play lawn bowls and therefore we are going to fund that and similar style sports that we think you should know. Football, cricket etc will not be supported as they do not fit the party line and therefore have to fund themselves.
We need to stand up for our industry and jobs. To quote Limelightmagazine.com.au (I hope they don’t mind me pinching) :
A delegation of 50 arts representatives will meet with high-profile politicians to discuss objections to the Federal Budget.
As the Federal Budget is due to pass through the Lower House later this week, representatives from the Labor and Green Parties are due to meet in Canberra with a delegation of high profile arts leaders from the small to medium scale arts sector. The collective of 50 representatives from the Australian arts community will consult with Shadow Minister for the Arts Mark Dreyfus and leader of the parliamentary caucus of the Australian Green Party Richard Di Natale to discuss and develop a challenge to the reforms to arts funding that have been the focus of major controversy since the budget announcement on May 12. Attorney General and Minister for the Arts George Brandis has also been invited to the pivotal meeting, but at the time of publication had yet to confirm his attendance.
Below are some useful sites on this matter.