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NCP Predictions #2

‘Flexible funding to help raise a culture of excellence’

by: Matthew Westwood, Arts correspondent
From: The Australian
March 13, 2013

LABOR will boost funding for young artists, overhaul the Australia Council and launch an “excellence pool”, in a long-awaited cultural policy that aims to set the nation’s creativity agenda for the next decade.

Arts Minister Simon Crean will announce funds of $20.8 million (a 30 per cent increase) to six elite training organisations today, including the national youth orchestra and circus school.

Every federal MP will get $23,500 to help support “creative young stars” in their electorates.

The federal government will also boost six arts companies in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia where those states have agreed to extra funding for touring and education programs.

The funding package will come from a combination of budget savings and new money committed over forward estimates.

Mr Crean will link Labor’s cultural spending to economic and social “dividends”, including social inclusion and increased productivity. He said the policy would reflect the diversity of society and outline a vision for the arts, cultural heritage and creative industries.

As flagged in The Australian yesterday, the policy will also focus on the Australia Council, with reforms likely to follow from a top-down review of the agency released last year. The review found that the arts-funding body had become inflexible to the needs of modern art-making and needed more rigour at board level.

Six training organisations will share the $20.8m funding injection: the National Institute of Dramatic Art, the Australian Ballet School, Australian Youth Orchestra, Flying Fruit Fly Circus School, NAISDA indigenous dance college and the National Institute of Circus Arts. About 1200 young artists collectively attend these organisations each year.

Federal funding for the Australian Youth Orchestra, many of whose musicians go on to jobs with professional orchestras, would increase from $1.7m to about $2.5m, said general manager Colin Cornish. The increase was a “significant boost” for the 65-year-old organisation, he said.

The commitment to skills training will be accompanied by a review of the sector. It comes as state-funded TAFE colleges in NSW and Victoria have cancelled arts courses amid funding cuts.

Creative Australia will boost funding by a combined $9.3m to six major performing arts companies in NSW, Western Australia and Victoria, with a combined $3.5m commitment from those states. The six companies are Bangarra Dance Theatre and Belvoir theatre company (NSW), Black Swan State Theatre Company and West Australian Ballet (Western Australia) and Malthouse Theatre and Circus Oz (Victoria).

The government will commit $1.25m a year to a new “excellence pool” of funds for the 28 major performing arts companies, with matched funding from the states.