Latest News

Back to Latest News back


Consultation suggests closer scrutiny of Major Performing Arts Framework funding

Consultation suggests closer scrutiny of Major Performing Arts Framework funding
October 16, 2018

A consultation paper from the Federal Department of Communication and the Arts has suggested that funding to major performing arts companies should be under contracts reviewed every four years rather than on an ongoing basis.

Suggesting the biggest shake-up to the Federal Government's $175 million performing arts budget since the aborted Catalyst program, the newly released consultation paper on potential enhancements to the Major Performing Arts (MPA) Framework closely coincides with the announcement of the appointment of a new Chief Executive at the Australia Council for the Arts.

Currently 28 major performing arts companies (MPAs) - in dance, theatre, circus, opera and orchestral and chamber music - receive 62% of Federal performing arts funding and the major share of state funding.

The consultation paper, produced after meetings with the MPAs and a public survey that garnered 8026 responses, applauded the MPA framework for the "certainty and stability" it gave its beneficiary companies.

This allowed them to take calculated risks and make long-term investments, which appear to have paid off at the box office, with the 28 companies achieving record combined turnover of $582.6 million in 2017, a compound annual growth rate of 5% over the past five years, even if their total employment has been static at around 10,000 over that time.

With their ranks barely changed since the MPA framework was introduced in 2001, and with 590 other performing arts companies fighting for just $53 million of one-off Australia Council grants in 2016/17, the consultation paper suggests guaranteeing funding only for contracted periods before reassessment is inevitable.

Commenting on the consultation, new Australia Council Chief Executive Adrian Collette, a former head of the biggest performing arts company of them all, Opera Australia, told the Australian Financial Review "I can understand how the MPAs appear to the rest of the sector as a closed shop."

Collette, who since leaving Opera Australia in 2013 has been Vice-Principal of Engagement at University of Melbourne, a role which oversees its museums, galleries and arts sector partnerships, added "I've got great respect for what the MPAs do, but the framework (is) nearly 20 years old and it's become rigid. We need to look more dynamically at how MPAs relate to the rest of the industry."

The consultation suggests that public want the MPA Framework strengthened to increase diversity on stage and in leadership, to make the companies more accessible and their shows more affordable, and for a broader range of repertoire with more Australian works, a summary of their survey responses in the consultation paper reveals.

While six symphony orchestras and four opera companies are guaranteed funding under the framework, there is no representation of electronic music or, as Australia Council Chairman Sam Walsh has recently highlight, emerging forms of immersive digital arts.

Collette suggests that one of the solutions to the art sector's problems would be nore Federal funding for the MPA pool.

However, with this not having been revised since 2008 Collette suggests that the Australia Council had to "keep getting better at making the case.”

Collette added “we have to get on the front foot and promote the arts as one of the most powerful engines for social cohesion we have, at a time where we're facing all sorts of challenges of diversity.”

Feedback from the arts sector to the consultation paper is now being sought, with the Australia Council will submit recommendations to a future meeting of federal and state cultural ministers.

Collette starts at the Australia Council in January.

Submissions on the consultation close at 5pm on Monday 26th November.

Click here for more information.

Image: Opera Australia's 2017 production of the Marriage of Figaro.

Related Articles

16th October 2018 - Recognition for marketing through adversity secures Award win for Australia Council

15th October 2018 - Australian Cultural Ministers release consultation on future Major Performing Arts funding

12th October 2018 - Australia Council announces new Chief Executive

11th October 2018 - Arts Centre Melbourne marks World Mental Health Day with Arts Wellbeing Collective launch

30th September 2018 - Arts sponsorship and donations revenue rises in volatile and uneven climate

24th September 2018 - Australia Council backs arts and disability with significant new funding

4th May 2018 - Philanthropist Sam Walsh announced as new Chair for Australia Council Board

17th December 2017 - Australian Major Performing Arts Group condemns harassment and bullying

17th November 2017 - Private sector support for the performing arts grows to record levels

19th June 2017 - Australia’s major symphony orchestras welcome report on orchestral health and safety

18th March 2017 - Federal Government abolishes Catalyst arts fund: restores funds to Australia Council

25th October 2016 - Review of Australian Opera warns against use of Government funds for ‘commercial activities’

3rd May 2016 - Government’s Catalyst arts fund makes allocations on eve of Federal budget

22nd March 2016 - Peak cultural body calls on Prime Minister Turnbull to reverse arts funding cuts

12th August 2015 - Live Performance Australia speaks out on arts funding

2nd July 2015 - Arts Minister Brandis to have final say on National Program for Excellence in the Arts funding

28th April 2008 - AbaF generates $20 million in private sector support for the arts

Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.


supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all


Myzone is the industry’s leading wearable technology solution. Myzone’s wearable products show and reward effort when you work out. It displays accurate real-time heart rate, calories, and…

read more

Fitness / Sport / Technology / Wellness


Summit Fitness

Summit Fitness Equipment is now part of NovoFit - see

read more

Fitness / Recreation / Technology / Wellness


The Jump Pad

The Jump Pad is a safe, flat inflatable made in a variety of sizes which can be used indoor or outdoor. From 3mx3m up to a whopping 9mx21m. Markets include Indoor and outdoor playgrounds, schools,…

read more

Attractions / Entertainment / Play


Aussie Strength

We are Aussie Strength. The ultimate supplier for Commercial Gym Equipment that's built to deliver in the toughest environments. From USA-Built hardcore weight training equipment from Arsenal…

read more

Fitness / Technology / Wellness


TJS Services

TJS Services is a leading national facility services provider. We deliver quality cleaning, maintenance, construction and facility management services to over 1,500 sites Australia wide.  Our…

read more

Hospitality / Retail / Venues



Headquartered in Brisbane with an Australia-wide network of satellite offices, PaySmart is one of Australia’s largest and longest-standing direct debit billing companies. In 1996 we began…

read more

Access / Billing / Fitness / Technology


WATERPLAY Solutions Corp

Whether your goal is increasing your centre's revenues or creating an engaging environment, why not add play to your project? If you're looking for stylish aquatic play features, kid-tested…

read more

Aquatics / Attractions / Play / Recreation / Waterparks



The Fitness Generation is now part of NovoFit - see

read more

Fitness / Technology / Wellness


get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business