The Federal Government Has Cut Funding To 62 Arts Organisations, So What Does That Mean?

Many of these festivals, magazines and art spaces won't be be able to run without government funding.

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Today it’s been confirmed that as a result of funding cuts to the Australia Council, 62 small to mid-level arts organisations will have their funding snatched away by the federal government. The threat of funding cuts have been looming over the arts community since it was announced that the Australia Council, the official arts funding body of the Federal Government, would lose $60 million of their budget over 4 years.

The list of organisations who will lose out on this essential funding can be seen here, but it includes Express Media, Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre, Next Wave Festival, KAGE Physical Theatre, the National Association for the Visual Arts, Theatre Works, Centre for Contemporary Photography and PACT Centre for Contemporary Artists.

This morning Next Wave, who were established in 1984,  have released a statement saying that they are “devastated” by the decision. “A healthy flourishing community needs a healthy and flourishing arts community. We need voices that challenge, question and provide ways to think anew. Artists provide that critical voice,” their press release read. Next Wave’s funding concludes in December 2016.

Some of these organisations will survive the funding cut, but many are incredibly dependent on government funding (FYI: the arts don’t pay much). Yesterday it was announced that 76-year-old literary journal Meanjin would probably fold due to the budget cuts. “If we can’t replace that money we’ll probably have to close it,” editor Jonathan Green told The Guardian.

Apart from the fact that many Australian citizens feel as through a thriving arts scene is probably more important than a bunch of French submarines, the Australia Council cuts are even more controversial because $12 million of their previous budget allocation has been given to Catalyst. Catalyst is a body who don’t provide operational funding, but instead funds projects selected by the government. And boy, does that Malcolm Turnbull like the ballet! (To be fair it’s nice that the ballet is getting some money, but it’s hard not to see a great divide in their funding allocation between traditional ‘good’ art and youth-led organisations that appear less than worthy to the government.)

Australia Council CEO Tony Grybowski said that: “The Council acknowledges that the outcomes of this highly competitive process will be difficult for some companies and is committed to supporting the sector through this period of change. This support will take various forms, responding to the different needs of both individual organisations and practice areas”.

It’s too early to tell which organisations will survive the latest round of cuts or how many jobs will be lost, but you’ve got to wonder what the Australian arts scene will even look like this time next year. And to think, we thought the only important election story this week was Duncan.

Image from Next Wave’s Facebook.