For art’s sake, for artists’ sake – act now!

Open City has been granted four-year funding by the Australia Council for the Arts.

We grieve sorely for the many companies and organisations not funded, and for the multitude of artists they would have nurtured and who are already seriously underfunded.

RealTime will continue to support all those working in what is now a dangerously depleted arts ecosystem.

The time has come to protest vigorously the government’s abrogation of responsible arts funding, its undemocratic usurpation of the powers of a statutory authority and its destruction of the arms length principle that has long kept government from directly controlling artmaking.

Given the unlikelihood of the Turnbull Government returning the removed funds now that an Arts Minister has finally realised the dream of not a few to gain some direct control of arts funding, the best we can hope for is a Labor victory in the election – for art’s sake, for artists’ sake.

Perhaps protest will change PM Turnbull’s mind and perhaps it will alert voters to the damage done, and to come, from a government spending opportunistically (for electoral advantage) and chaotically (allowing some arts organisations to benefit hugely from both Australia Council and Catalyst funding while renownedly excellent companies and organisations are refused support and treated as ‘dead wood’). But given the large number of issues the electorate faces, artists, their organisations and supporters will have to speak very loudly to be heard.

Disappointingly, the Australia Council CEO is in denial, arguing to the media that four-year funding was always going to be highly competitive and that new groups would need to be allowed in. He simply does not admit that assessments and decisions were made with significantly less funds than initially projected, much of it for the small to medium sector. This is an issue not of Government funding strategy, but of political interference which is already re-directing previously targeted arts funding into the hands of large organisations and the commercial sector.

Add your voice to the protest. Write to Rupert Myer, Chair of the Australia Council for the Arts r.myer@australiacouncil.gov.au, challenging the four-year funding decisions, demanding their reversal, and copying your message to Arts Minister, Mitch Fifield minister@communications.gov.au. Keep informed by visitng #FREETHEARTS and signing up to Artspeak.

Keith & Virginia

RealTime issue #132 April-May 2016 pg.

19 May 2016