Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Minister defends Arts Excellence Program

Ben Neutze, Brandis Defends Controversial Arts ‘Excellence’ Program Daily Review, 19 May 2015

Senator the Hon George Brandis QC.

Arts Minister George Brandis.

Arts Minister George Brandis has defended his plans to take $104.8 million from the Australia Council to establish his own National Programme for Excellence in the Arts, saying that the new program will work to broaden access to arts funding.

Speaking to Michael Cathcart on Radio National’s Books and Arts today he said: “The purpose of the policy is to ensure that there’s contestability so that not all arts funding is delivered through the Australia Council.

“I can’t see for the life of me, in circumstances where there has been no reduction in the amount of money available, what is wrong with there being contestability so there are two funding streams.”

According to Brandis, the program is not designed to transfer money away from smaller companies and independent artists, and the Australia Council will remain the principal body for arts funding. Brandis was asked how the move would impact upon the Australia Council’s ArtStart, Capacity Building and Artists-in-Residence (which have traditionally been integral in supporting developing artists), and responded that the Australia Council is responsible for its own budget.

“I’ve been the arts minister now in two governments,” Brandis said. “The refrain I have most frequently heard from arts companies and arts practitioners — particularly smaller ones; particularly ones outside Sydney and Melbourne  – is that they don’t feel they get a fair go in the Australia Council funding round.

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