Australian Arts Council cuts hit hard


Perth artists have raised fears over the fallout of the Australian Arts Council having lost $25.4 million in funding this year.

Nationally, the Council saw a 54 per cent decrease in its funding allocation with New South Wales and Victoria obtaining most of the funding combined at 62.1 percent.


Visitors to PICA Gallery Photo: Ashleigh Dupree

Western Australia received 7.4 percent in national funding with Perth arts organisations PICA, Barking Gecko Theatre Company, Community Arts Network WA and The Blue Room Theatre receiving four-year funding, among the 17 organisations allocated room in the budget.

Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts Associate Dean Cat Hope detailed the process of applying for Council grants.

“The Australian Council has a rigorous peer review process,” Dr Hope said.

“Your peers from other industries review your grants so basically the Australian Council responded to the cuts by making fewer grant rounds.

“So fewer opportunities to apply, and the funding pool was more competitive, you’re less likely to get a grant.”

Dr Hope says the government needs to hold onto ‘arms length funding’ because being in an organisation means there is infastructure and assistance to rely upon as opposed to independent artists who have to complete their projects using their own resources.

Jonathan Paget, coordinator of honours, postgraduate music and a lecturer in classical music at WAAPA told of his disappointment about the cuts from the Australian Council of Arts.

“It makes it a lot harder for smaller groups and individual artists,” Dr Paget said.

He also spoke about how hard it was getting an Australia Council grant.

“It’s harder to get on than an ARC (Australia Research Council) grant,” he said jokingly.

He advised how the grants are essential to support artists and their projects but that grants like those from the Australian Arts Council are more important to freelance artists as opposed to artists that have full time employment.

For some practices within the arts, grants have become an unreliable source of funding meaning organisations and individuals have begun sourcing revenue elsewhere.

Paper Mountain General Manager, Johnson Doan

Johnson Doan Photo: Jasmine Uitermark-Thaung

For one not-for-profit Perth arts organisation, Paper Mountain, revenue to keep the arts hub running comes from renting its small desks to studio artists and gallery hire fees.

Paper Mountain is solely run by volunteers including its daily gallery attendants and co-directors.

Paper Mountain general manager, Johnson Doan said that when grants funding dried up artists had less time to spend on their art.

RTRFM Operations, events and volunteer manager, Chris Wheeldon

Chris Wheeldon Photo: Jasmine Uitermark-Thaung

RTRFM Operations, Events and Volunteer Manager Chris Wheeldon said the next couple of years was going to be “odd” for the arts.

“People will keep making art but there won’t be as much money in it as there has been in the past,” he said.

The Australian Council for The Arts has funded 716 individual artists, 650 organisations and 7234 new artistic works in its 2016 budget.

Categories: Arts, News Day

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