LNP snubs arts funding inquiry

Media release from #freethearts

The arts sector was disappointed that no one from the LNP government put in an appearance at yesterday’s first public hearing in Melbourne of the Senate Inquiry into changes to arts funding. By contrast the Inquiry Committee, chaired by independent Senator Glen Lazarus, had very strong representation from both Labor and the Greens.

The arts sector has a growing sense that the Arts Minister Senator Brandis is blocking his ears to the extensive criticism of his proposal to remove $110 million from the Australia Council to set up his own program managed by his department.

Indicative of Minister Brandis’ disdain for the majority of the arts constituency was his failure to put in an appearance or to send a representative when a large national delegation of arts sector leaders went to Canberra in June to meet with politicians from all parties.

“People are angry and at the Minister’s failure to respond to the thousands of submissions to the Inquiry. Senator Brandis obviously has no answers to the legitimate questions raised by artists and communities across the country,” said Norm Horton, director of Feral Arts.

“It is incredibly disrespectful that the LNP would ignore the growing barrage of criticism and demonstrates that Minister Brandis is unable to find an effective solution to the chaotic situation he has created” continued Horton.

As evidenced by the dozens of presenters at yesterday’s first inquiry hearing, the cuts to the Australia Council budget are already having an enormously destructive impact. Organisations are unable to plan their programs and other public and private sector support has been jeopardised or withdrawn.

The arts sector maintains that the immediate crisis can still be resolved by restoring the funding that has been cut from the Australia Council. They are calling for the development of an evidence based cultural framework to assess what might be appropriate if changes are found to be needed for the administration of public funding for the arts.

The arts sector now plans take its complaints over the Arts Minister’s head. “We are writing directly to Prime Minister Tony Abbott to call for his intervention. The Prime Minister needs to show that the LNP has a genuine

interest in the development of the cultural life of the country, and that they are willing to listen and work with us to fix this problem” said Horton.

Find more information on the Senate Inquiry and the upcoming hearings here.