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Scaling back of National Program for Excellence in the Arts a ‘bittersweet moment’

Scaling back of National Program for Excellence in the Arts a ‘bittersweet moment’
November 21, 2015

The decision by the Federal Government to scale back the unpopular National Program for Excellence in the Arts (NPEA) has been described as "bittersweet" by members of the arts sector.

Federal Arts and Communications Minister Mitch Fifield announced yesterday that the Australian Government will partially reverse funding cuts to the Australia Council, returning $32 million (over four years) that was stripped from the arts funding body in the Federal Budget earlier this year.

However, cuts in Australia Council funding programs caused by its previously announced reduced budget have already seen the halting of its June grant round and the suspension of its Six-Year Funding for Arts Organisations category.

As a result, some smaller arts organisations have already halted programs and ended employment of staff

Commenting on the new the Catalyst - Australian Arts and Culture Fund to the ABC, Senator Fifield said that he does not seek for the new Fund to supplant or compete with the Australia Council, and that it will take less money out of the arts funding body’s budget than the NPEA would have.

Senator Fifield said the new fund is designed to assist “organisations that might not otherwise have the opportunity to access funding - such as galleries, libraries and museums.”

While many arts organisations acknowledged that Senator Fifield’s announcement was a step in the right direction, others said the decision to form a new funding body under the minister away from the Australia Council would still threaten the future of some arts groups.

National Association for the Visual Arts Executive Director Tamara Winikoff told the ABC “this is a bittersweet moment for the arts in Australia.

“We are relieved that the Minister is prepared to go some way towards alleviating the havoc being caused by the original decision of his predecessor.

"However, the renamed Catalyst program is still being created at the expense of ensuring the survival of organisations.”

What frustrates many in the arts community is that the last year the Australia Council introduced a new streamlined grants model and peer assessment process, the result of a two-year reform process and consultation with the sector.

At the time, the Australia Council explained “artists and arts organisations will benefit from increased stability through six year organisational funding, building greater capacity to develop and plan artistically vibrant programs which engage national and international audiences.”

Much of this initiative was negated by former Arts Minister George Brandis’ creation of the NPEA.

Click here to view the guidelines for Catalyst.

Image: Exhibition at the Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA).

20th November 2015 - FEDERAL GOVERNMENT RETHINKS ARTS FUNDING WITH CHANGES TO UNPOPULAR NPEA INITIATIVE

12th November 2015 - ARTS MINISTER MITCH FIFIELD LOOKS AT NPEA REVISION

21st September 2015 - PRIME MINISTER TURNBULL LINKS ARTS AND COMMUNICATIONS AND RESTORES TOURISM MINISTER IN NEW MINISTRY

2nd July 2015 - ARTS MINISTER BRANDIS TO HAVE FINAL SAY ON NATIONAL PROGRAM FOR EXCELLENCE IN THE ARTS FUNDING

19th June 2015 - SENATE TO LAUNCH INQUIRY INTO NATIONAL PROGRAM FOR EXCELLENCE IN THE ARTS

13th May 2015 - FEDERAL BUDGET TAKES $100 MILLION FROM AUSTRALIA COUNCIL TO ESTABLISH ARTS EXCELLENCE PROGRAM


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