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Federal Budget confirms return of Australia Council arts funds
Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison’s 2017/18 budget, handed down in Canberra on last night, has confirmed that funds from the Catalyst - Australian Arts and Culture Fund are to be returned to the Australia Council.
The Federal budget contained no shocks for the arts, culture and entertainment sector (unlike the 2015/16 budget which stunned the sector with Senator George Brandis’ attack on the Australia Council) but also, according to Live Performance Australia lacked a long-term strategic vision for the live performance industry.
As announced in March by Federal Minister for the Arts Mitch Fyfield, the budget will see the Federal Government providing $90.2 million over five years from 2016/17 to return funding to the Australia Council, which had been cut from the 2014 budget – including a $10 million contribution from the Australia Council’s own reserves over two years
Overall, the Australia Council’s base appropriation will increase by $21 million, from $188.4 million to $209.4 million in 2017/18 although this represents a decrease of 2.6% in real terms compared to 2016/17.
Commenting on the funding, Live Performance Australia (LPA) Chief Executive, Evelyn Richardson stated “we welcome the restoration of funding to the Australia Council but the harsh reality is the cuts and uncertainty inflicted on small to medium performing arts companies over the past few years have already taken their toll.
“For some of our small to medium companies, it’s too little too late (so) it is disappointing that the Turnbull Government hasn’t adopted any of the targeted measures proposed by LPA to stimulate investment and innovation in the live performance industry and to strengthen its contribution to the Australian economy.”
Richardson went on to say “in recent years our industry has been hit by ongoing uncertainty over funding as well as increased costs through new visa charges for large touring groups.
“The restoration of some stability after a disruptive period is welcomed, but our industry still needs a longer term vision.”
Museums and Galleries benefit
The Federal budget also includes $48.5 million over three years to support Australia’s national cultural collections, ensuring that Australia’s key museums, galleries and archives can continue to develop and deliver programs and services. The funding, which is made available through the Public Service Modernisation Fund, also enables important capital works.
The Federal Government will provide an additional $8.2 million to support the delivery of core services and programs at the National Gallery of Australia, the National Museum of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery, the Australian National Maritime Museum, National Film and Sound Archive and the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House.
There will also be $31.4 million for capital works to maintain important infrastructure, gaining efficiencies in reduced long-term maintenance costs. This work will assist the national collecting institutions to fully utilise the assets available to them and better enable the ability for self-generated revenue. This funding includes:
$13.9 million for the Australian National Maritime Museum to improve disability access, energy and water sustainability works, life extension work on heritage vessels and for building and utilities maintenance.
$13.6 million for building maintenance at the Old Parliament House Museum of Australia Democracy, including the replacement of inefficient lighting and plumbing, refurbishment of building space to provide habitable office space and updating the technology infrastructure to the permanent exhibition spaces.
$3.9 million for the National Film and Sound Archive for capital works and replacement of critical equipment required for thermally controlled preservation of NFSA collection material.
Commenting on the boost for museums and galleries, Senator Fifield stated “these Budget commitments will ensure our major collecting institutions continue to preserve Australia’s valuable cultural heritage and deliver world class programs and services for all Australians.”
Click here to read the 2017/18 Budget Papers for the Communications and Arts Portfolio.
Images: Dancer Ben Hancock (above, courtesy of Byron Perry Dance) and the National Maritime Museum (below).
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