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Federal Budget takes $100 million from Australia Council to establish arts excellence program

Federal Budget takes $100 million from Australia Council to establish arts excellence program
May 13, 2015

Arts funding is set for a shake-up with the Federal Government announcing that more than $100 million will be reallocated from the Australia Council to a new National Program for Excellence in the Arts under the control of Arts Minister and Attorney-General George Brandis.

The program, announced in the 2015/16 Federal budget, will focus on attracting private sector support for the cultural sector and will be used to fund endowments and international tours.

Announcing that $104.8 million will be allocated over four years to establish the Program, Senator Brandis stated that it program will support "endowments, international touring and strategic projects" and have an emphasis on attracting private sector support.

A statement from Senator Brandis' office explained “arts funding has until now been limited almost exclusively to projects favoured by the Australia Council.

"The National Program for Excellence in the Arts will make funding available to a wider range of arts companies and arts practitioners, while at the same time respecting the preferences and tastes of Australia's audiences.

"The (program) will allow for a truly national approach to arts funding."

Further emphasis on attracting private funding for cultural projects will come through the continuation of the Plus1 matched funding program run by Creative Partnerships Australia at a cost of $5.2 million over three years.

Responsibility for the programs Visions of Australia and Festivals Australia will return to the Ministry for the Arts, having been transferred to the Australia Council under the previous government. The major festivals initiative will also be transferred to the ministry, with funding doubled to $1.5 million.

On top of the money redirected to the excellence program, the Australia Council will lose $7.2 million of funding over four years through “efficiencies” while Screen Australia, the national film funding body, will lose $3.6 million over the same period.

Brandis’s statement assured Australians that the lower level of funding for the Australia Council would not lead to any reduction in its funding to the 28 major performing arts companies.

Funding for the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the National Museum, the National Library, the National Film and Sound Archive and the National Maritime Museum is also being cut by a combined $7.5 million.

Image courtesy of Australia Council/Ben Hancock.

Article amended 11.29am 14th May 2015.

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