In its infinite wisdom, the Australian government has decided to strip the long standing Australia Council of much of its funding...to the tune of $105 million over the next four years. This on top of its slashing and burning of arts funding to the tune of almost $50m last year.
The govt spin is it will widen opportunities for artists. The reality is it is already very difficult to secure funding. The decision to downsize the Oz council will kill programs that have yielded good results for emerging artists and force the govt to go through another trial and error process of setting up new wings, thereby also doubling the administrative costs of what is essentially the same pie.
I don't think anybody can say that the Australia Council system is perfect. But it's well established and has a great web and far reaching network that is often just as useful to artists as the funds it disperses. Artists and creatives are effectively small businesses. They're often like sole proprietors whose work has flow on effects. Stripping the funding in this way sounds like it's just attrition of lefties but the reality is it makes it difficult for people who work in these fields to find paying opportunities to work. If you strip Screen Australia of almost $40m funding in one year, that's a hell of a lot of professionals being forced to compete for diminishing roles.
But that seems to be the point behind such a decision.
Interesting that Brandis didn't see fit to announce these changes when he flew, at taxpayer's expense, to Venice for the Biennale the other week. Guess that would have been inconvenient.
See more detail about the cuts here.