NAVA congratulates Australia Council Four Year Organisations and thanks peer assessors at this troubling time

Media Release

NAVA congratulates the recipients of the Australia Council Four Year Funding for Organisations Program whose outcomes were announced today by Adrian Collette AM, CEO of the Australia Council. 

“Congratulations to each of the 95 successfully funded organisations,” said Esther Anatolitis, Executive Director. “Everyone at NAVA looks forward to working closely with you towards an Australian arts sector that’s ambitious and fair.

“NAVA was one of the organisations who had been shortlisted for Four Year Funding, and unfortunately, we’ve not been successful – nor were we successful in the 2016 round. We have however secured Visual Arts & Craft Strategy funding from 2021, and we thank the Australian Government and state governments for their important, long-term collaboration on this program. As ever, we will continue to do our best for our Members, for the visual arts sector, and for the Australian cultural agenda.

“I’d like to thank the peer assessors whose independent scrutiny has yielded this outcome over the rigorous two-stage assessment process. It’s extremely difficult work knowing that the future of Australia’s arts sector rests on your shoulders, and I thank you all for your diligence and care. Many thanks also to the hard-working Australia Council staff who go above and beyond for us every single day. 

“With these announcements coming amid the debilitating COVID19 crisis that threatens the livelihood and the viability of every Australian artist and organisation, I thank the Australia Council for extending all current Four Year funded organisations for an additional year. Given many economists are predicting the world will be in recession for the entirety of that period, this is a wise investment in Australia’s future.

“I am deeply concerned, however, that the newly funded organisations will have their first year’s funding cut to 70% in order to accommodate that important extension of funding. Rather than receiving extra support at this perilous time, they’re starting out with a cut. 

“As well as in today’s announcements, we’ve all been concerned that the Australia Council has been forced to redirect its own funds in order to ensure that timely support is available. Programs that have been suspended would have addressed career development, regional touring and other specific artform areas. The Australia Council has committed to reinstating these programs when possible – and this week’s Resilience Fund announcement is very welcome, along with its reinstatement of the Arts and Disability Mentorships program. 

“Looking back just a few years, the last time the Australia Council was forced to redirect its own funds in conflict with its strategic plan was the deeply damaging Brandis cuts of 2015. The Six Year Organisations program – to which hundreds of us devoted thousands of hours in applying – was cancelled and became Four Year Organisations, while a range of specialist programs in young and emerging arts, experimental arts and community-engaged practice had to go. Those programs never returned. 

“We cannot allow this to happen again. We’ve seen the diminution to the sector, and the decline in diversity is borne out in the Australia Council’s own sector reports. 

“Of course, a lot more is needed right now. As COVID-19 continues to endanger Australians and decimate our sector, these announcements come at a time where every artist and every organisation in the country has an uncertain future, with tens of thousands of cancellations, redundancies and closures having already occurred. Last Friday, over a hundred of Australia’s leading companies united to present a creative industry letter to the Prime Minister outlining urgent priorities for urgent action. 

“Despite the Minister’s media release last night stating that the recently announced stimulus measures will "keep the spotlights shining in the arts sector", the industry has been clear and united in advising government that this is not the case. Industry-specific stimulus measures are urgently needed to protect livelihoods and prevent collapse. 

“A courageous, responsible government would have invested ambitiously in the Australia Council Four Year Program as Australia’s premier set of capacity-building partnerships. The industry’s expectation was of increased funding to this crucial program, given the lack of any industry-specific stimulus measures to date. 

“What we’re seeing here are the consequences of last year’s government restructure that rendered the arts invisible in the name of its new portfolio, as well as dismissing its most senior public servant, a seasoned professional with extensive creative industry policy expertise. The creative industry needs to have confidence that high-level decision-makers understand the specific nature of our workforce, our businesses and the interdependent industries whose successes depend on ours. 

“What’s needed right now is nation-building – and the best way to ensure we get through this crisis as a nation is to invest in the ways we enjoy our cultural life as Australians. 

“I encourage the Australian Government to invest ambitiously in the Australia Council’s work and in its programs. Because a healthy, robust Australia Council is crucial to Australia’s cultural life – now, more than ever.”