ArtsPeak seeks urgent meeting with the Arts Minister Fifield

Letter from ArtsPeak to Senator Mitch Fifield sent on 16 October 2015.

Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield

Minister for Communications and the Arts

Parliament House

Canberra ACT 2600

16th October 2015

Dear Minister,

We are writing on behalf of ArtsPeak (the confederation of peak national arts organisations and state arts industry councils) to again seek an urgent meeting with you in relation to the future of arts funding and the National Program for Excellence in the Arts (NPEA).

We are encouraged by your public commitment to consult and listen to feedback, but so far we are not aware that you have had an opportunity to follow through with arts industry organisations. We urge you to undertake proper consultation before making any decision on the future of the NPEA and the Australia Council. It is vital that your consultations include meeting with ArtsPeak which has broad national representation across the whole arts sector.

We were pleased to hear reports following the MCM meeting in Mildura of a proposal to retain responsibility for grant making for individual artists and small to medium companies with the Australia Council. We strongly support this proposal. It is vital that we make every effort to avoid duplication and reduce bureaucracy and red tape. In the absence of an arts policy, we concur with the overwhelming body of evidence coming through the Senate Inquiry that the Australia Council has the strategic understanding, experience and decision-making mechanisms to best manage this process for individual artists and arts organisations. We urge you to ensure that the Australia Council is provided with a sufficient level of funding to meet these needs as identified in the Government’s commissioned 2012 Trainer and James ‘Review of the Australia Council’.

The additional advantage for the Government and broader community if you are able to provide this assurance about the Australia Council’s funding, is the opportunity to minimise the damage, disruption and the unintended impacts of the transition to the NPEA. This will also obviate the need to provide compensation to those directly impacted by the proposed changes; a process that was hasty and undertaken without consultation.

As many commentators have pointed out, a primary purpose of the Australia Council is to provide appropriate protections for the Minister of the day. We strongly recommend that you take full advantage of these protections and the skills and processes that the Council has refined and improved over more than four decades on behalf of governments of all persuasions.

Because of the pressing nature of the pending NPEA decision, ArtsPeak looks forward to confirming a meeting with you for a delegation of members at the earliest opportunity.

Yours sincerely,

ArtsPeak Co-Convenors

Tamara Winikoff OAM

Executive Director

National Association for the Visual Arts

Nicole Beyer

Executive Director

Theatre Network (Vic)