#FREE THE ARTS

In the Federal government’s budget announcements made on Tuesday, 15 May 2015, the Minister for the Arts, George Brandis, announced a shift of $104.7 million from the Australia Council for the Arts to a new National Programme for Excellence in the Arts, managed by the staff of the Ministry for the Arts.

The Ministry for the Arts has not articulated transparent processes and systems to prevent government agendas influencing funding decisions.

What do the proposed changes mean?
The funding changes will have direct implications for arts organisations across the nation, including FCAC. This means:

A significant threat to independent arts practice in Australia.
The Australia Council for the Arts has lost a quarter of the money it uses to fund independent artists and arts organisations. With the Ministry for the Arts quarantining 28 major performing arts organisations from the proposed funding cuts, the austerity will rest squarely on the most vulnerable part of the sector: the smaller companies funded by the Australia Council, and individual artists themselves. The steady decline in support for this part of the arts sector is just as much a threat to the major arts organisations, as they need it to help breed a climate of innovation.

The risk of censorship.
As an arms-length funding body, the Australia Council for the Arts has well-established processes to ensure arts organisations and artists are not censored for producing work that does not align with the policies of the government of the time. This independence is vital to protecting democratic freedom of expression. An Individual Arts Minister should not be the exclusive arbiter of artistic expression.

Less artforms, less opportunities in Melbourne’s west.
For FCAC, the suspension of the Australia Council for the Arts’ six year funding program has the potential to reduce our projected income by up to 21% annually. This will directly and negatively impact our ability to deliver some of our core pathways programs, festivals and exhibitions. Which means less opportunities for artists to develop and present their work, and less artistic events for audiences to participate in.

Reduced paid employment opportunities for artists and arts workers in Melbourne’s west.
Economically, the announcement impacts FCAC’s ability to provide employment for 250 artists and arts workers in Melbourne’s west, representing $1.5M in salaries, wages and fees, and training programs.

The Australia Council for the Arts has supported FCAC throughout our 40 year history, and since 1984, contributed almost $5,000,000 in support of our programs. Critical support that enables FCAC to collaborate with artists, communities and organisations to build capacity, create opportunities and drive social change.

We demand this proposal not be supported and all funds are returned to Australia Council and administered through arms length, peer reviewed processes.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

  1. Petition: Please sign Australians For Artistic Freedom petition. Share it on your social media, send it to artists, friends and family members.
  2. Write to or call your local MPs. Click here to find out who to call or write to.
  3. Share: Let people know that this issue is important to you by talking about it and staying involved in the conversation. Follow and share #FREETHEARTS on all social media.

Download a PDF of this statement here.

For interviews and quotes please contact Jenna Williams, Marketing and Communications Manager [email protected] / 03 9362 8883