Return the money to the Australia Council was the strong message from over 60 arts delegates from around the nation who met with Federal Arts Minister Mitch Fifield at a National Arts Sector meeting in Sydney today. The delegates also heard from Labor Senator Jacinta Collins, Greens MP Adam Bandt and the Shadow Arts Minister Mark Dreyfus MP.
Minister Fifield acknowledged the disruption to the sector and said that future budget decisions would be informed by broad consultation. The Minister expressed his desire to work with the sector and advised that he would release a considered decision on funding within 14 days.
“We urge the Minister to address the sector’s concerns.” said Sarah Moynihan from Feral Arts. “Whilst the Visions Australia, Festivals Australia, Major Festivals Initiative and Creative Partnerships Australia programs sit comfortably in the Ministry the rest of the money and the Book Council money must be immediately returned to the Australia Council.”
The meeting was the new Arts Minister’s first opportunity to participate in a meaningful consultation with the broad spectrum of the arts and cultural community. His predecessor had failed to do this and it caused a loss of trust and respect from the arts sector.
“We applaud the commitment of the new Arts Minister to consult with the sector," said co-convenor of ArtsPeak,Tamara Winikoff OAM. "We sincerely hope that he will act on the overwhelming evidence that has been generated through the Senate Inquiry. It has been a powerful example of our sector speaking with a unified voice and we intend to build on this demonstrated capacity to work together effectively."
The meeting emphasised the importance of the role and operation of the Australia Council and was critical of the duplication of operational resources which would be caused by the National Program for Excellence in the Arts (NPEA).
Public Hearings of the Senate Inquiry held around the country had repeatedly heard that a simple solution to the current disruption would be to return to the Australia Council the money used to set up NPEA and the Book Council.
"Any new decisions need to be based on a well researched evidenced based arts policy achieved through consultation,” said Nicole Beyer, co-convenor of ArtsPeak. "We encourage Minister Fifield to undertake this work ahead of the next election.”
As part of the meeting the delegates discussed how the arts and cultural sector will articulate an apolitical and unified vision. The meeting endorsed calls for such a vision and new financial models to realise the full potential of arts and culture as a driver for creativity and innovation in Australia.
For further details please contact: Tamara Winikoff, ArtsPeak 0411 162 156 Nicole Beyer, ArtsPeak 0432 609 658 Sarah Moynihan, Feral Arts 0407 690 444