TIMELINE OF EVENTS
- Australia Council’s new Strategic Plan begins to roll out. Expressions of Interest by organisations applying for 6 year funding are received December 2014 and assessed in early 2015. Feedback is given to organisations.
5 May 2015
- Former Federal Arts Minister George Brandis diverts $104.8 million from the Australia Council to start National Program for Excellence in the Arts (NPEA) – a program within the Ministry.
- It is not new for the Ministry to fund the arts, historically it has funded many programs and specific initiatives. The difference was using funds from existing programs at the Australia Council.
- The 28 major performing arts organisations are not impacted by these cuts directly, because of the way they are funded.
- No consultation with the sector or with the Australia Council is undertaken.
- TNA and ArtsPeak coordinate an immediate sector response – setting up a petition, social media, and convening rallies or actions in most states and territories – in Melbourne this was a dance action on the forecourt of ACCA. Media coverage is high.
- TNA and ArtsPeak convene a meeting with the opposition leader Bill Shorten and Shadow Arts Minister Mark Dreyfus. We call on them to support a Senate Inquiry.
- The major performing arts organisations are fearful of speaking out.
1 June 2015
- ArtsPeak officially calls for a Senate Inquiry. Media coverage remains high.
16 June 2015
- Labor and the Greens propose the motion in the Senate and are supported by all crossbenchers.
17 July 2015
- Senate submissions close, and over 2700 submissions are received. As Senator Ludlam (Greens) notes, less than a dozen submissions support the changes.
Late July 2015
- The Australia Council releases its revised program – offering 4 year funding for organisations instead of 6, and reducing the number of grants rounds and the pool of funding available. Initiatives are also reduced. $18million per year savings needs to be found.
- A funding round is cancelled. Many tours and projects are postponed or cancelled.
5 August 2015
- Senate hearings begin (in Melbourne). 8 hearings are held around Australia from 5th August to 23rd November.
- Again, extensive media coverage supports the sector’s concerns.
14 September 2015
- Malcolm Turnbull wins a leadership challenge against Tony Abbott, and replaces George Brandis with Mitch Fifield.
3 October 2015
- Meeting of Cultural Ministers held in Mildura – the sector briefs our respective state and territory ministers and bureaucrats, in particular about what the proportional loss of funded organisations would be in each state.
6 November 2015
- A national arts sector meeting in Sydney hears from Arts Minister Fifield, Shadow Arts Minister Dreyfus, and arts spokesperson for the Greens Adam Bandt. At an ArtsPeak meeting with Fifield prior to the gathering, we urge the Minister to return the funds.
19 November 2015
- Fifield returns $32million of the $105, and changes the NPEA to Catalyst – the key change being a reduction in funding, a greater focus on the small to medium sector, and allowing individuals to apply (as part of an auspiced group).
23 November 2015
- Final Senate Inquiry hearing in Canberra. The hearings overwhelmingly hear support for the Australia Council and its peer assessment processes; evidence that there was no consultation or demonstrated need for the changes; evidence that the impacts would be devastating for the whole sector.
- 13 recommendations were given in total in the final Senate Inquiry Report (192 pages). The first two are respectively: to develop a comprehensive arts policy and to restore the funding to the Australia Council in full. A dissenting report by the government members of the committee (6 pages) rejects most of those recommendations.
- First Catalyst grants are announced. Only 3 are announced, the remaining 75 are not announced until May (2 months after projects were due to start). 80% of recipients have received Australia Council grants in the past.
- 4 year funding for organisations is announced. 128 organisations are funded out of 262 that applied. A further 23 organisations lose recurrent funding beyond the Key Organisation pool: Youth Theatre annual funding, MAPS, Program Presenter, Creative Communities, and programs such as ArtStart and International Touring.
8 June 2016
- ArtsPeak runs the Arts Election Debate with Fifield, Dreyfus and Bandt. As a result, the arts are on the election agenda in a way that has not previously happened.
- Labor’s Arts Policy is announced by Bill Shorten himself, in Melbourne, just days ahead of the debate, promising to restore the money in full and increasing the Australian Council’s funding, and to return most of the funding cut to the ABC.
2 July 2016
- Federal Election – LNP re-elected.
- Fifield meets with artists and companies across Australia.
- Catalyst grants due to start October 1st (from June round) still not announced.
- $23million has been committed with only $25million left for the remaining 3 years.
5 October 2016
- Daily Review publishes an article stating that the Minister is set to return all Catalyst funding to the Australia Council.
November 2016 onwards
- ArtsPeak continues to advocate for the return of the funding to the Australia Council.
- Various arts leaders are planning to develop a non-partisan, sector owned arts policy/vision