This morning, The Australia Council – the gang in charge of doling out government funds to our artistic and cultural organisations – dropped their bright, shining funding arts funding overhaul for 2017 onwards.
They’ve pledged to bolster 128 groups nationwide with a total of $28 million a year, over the next four.
That sounds grand, ’til you realise a staggering sixty-bloody-two arts organisations that already relied on government funding have had that monetary lifeline snipped.
The Council’s CEO Tony Grybowski said “the outcomes of this highly competitive process will be difficult for some companies and [we are] committed to supporting the sector through this period of change.”
ArtsHub puts that “change” in stark terms, as they report a third of the 147 bodies previously reliant on government grants will be left with fuck-all funding from the Feds.
Look, here’s a short list of containing some of the groups that had their claims knocked back. You’ll recognise mainstays in the Australian artistic scene, promising up-and-comers, and challenging groups that, you know, push the boundaries of creativity in this country.
Don’t say we didn’t warn you:
- Arena Theatre
- Australian Experimental Art Foundation
- Black Arm Band
- Brink Productions
- Canberra Contemporary Art Space
- Centre for Contemporary Photography
- Contemporary Art Centre South Australia
- Cultural Partnerships Australia
- Express Media
- Force Majeure
- KAGE Physical Theatre
- Legs on the Wall
- Mosman Art Gallery
- National Association for the Visual Arts
- Next Wave Festival
- PACT Centre for Contemporary Artists
- Phillip Adams Ballet Lab
- Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre
- Theatre Works
The fallout has been visceral and immediate. The Confederation of Australian State Theatre Companies said the cuts will “will cause irreparable damage across the sector… including the risk of closure, hundreds of job losses, and an overall increased instability throughout the arts industry.”
Live Performance Australia bared its teeth, saying “i
t doesn’t matter how much the Australia Council tries to window dress its announcement…
There is no artistic or industry development rationale for these cuts – they are all about the Government’s budget decision.”
Limelight, one of Australia’s premiere classical music publications, opined “Friday the 13th of May 2016 is now a day that will be remembered in infamy by many as one of the blackest in Australia’s artistic history.”
The cuts are deep. They’re brutal. Now, seemingly more than ever, it’s vital to go out and see some fucking Australian art – there might be a fair bit less of it in the years to come.