The arts policy debate in Australia

As regular readers of this blog will know, Marcus Westbury and I have been gently exploring the policy paradoxes of Australia’s arts funding regime for the better part of 2010.

Now the debate is starting to gather steam. Over at his blog, Marcus has a post summarising the various work we’ve done together to highlight the inequities and inconsistencies in the current Australia Council funding model.

As Marcus writes:

I could respond point by point to every comment and criticism but I think it’s best to let a lot of it pass. I do want to pick up on one thing though. It’s the mentality that it is Orchestras, Opera and Classical music under siege in Australia right now. Frankly, that’s either ignorant, disingenuous or a bare faced lie. As a simple look at the numbers reveals even after years of gently raising these issues opera and orchestras are by far the biggest recipients of Australia Council funds, they get 98% of all music funding, and they receive several times more Australia Council funding than every other artist in every other artform in Australia combined. If the directors of those companies can not respond to the idea that other artists in Australia are being shut out of a system that is stacked absurdly in their favour with a response other than insults, scare campaigns and offensive diatribes their position will become increasingly untenable.

Tomorrow, I’m going to examine the policy record of the Australia Council more carefully, and try to explain why I think it should be abolished in favour of a new federal structure for supporting arts and culture in this country.

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