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Connolly calls for major restructuring of arts administration

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EMBARGO: 12pm Satdrnra'/, 1 June 1985



31st May 1985, Contact: (02) 239 3199 / 442 5166

CONNOLLY CALLS FOR MAJOR RESTRUCTURING OF ARTS ADMINSITRATION Mr David Connolly, Shadow Minister for Arts Heritage and Environment, today called for a major overhaul of the Australian Arts.

In his speech to the Liberal Party Arts Forum on Saturday Mr Connolly, questioned the ability of the Australia Council to administer the $43 million funds presently under its control.

"This Statutory Authority is not capable of controlling the implementation of desirable policy objectives.

"There are serious inconsistencies in a system of policy formation which involves a minister being responsible for the Department of Arts, Heritage and Environment, while the Government persists in giving lip service, at least to the Whitlam concept of 1 arms length’ funding.

"I am very critical of this method of non-decision-making, we must either have a Minister who is responsible for Arts policy,or we have an Australia Council responsible for advising the Minister on Arts policy, but we cannot afford a hybrid.

"Under current funding circumstances, there is clearly a case for incorporating elements of the Australia Council into the Department, transferring other responsibilities tel·the States such as Community Arts Funding, and dispensing with the Australia "Council altogether.

"This would save $6 million in administrative costs which could be channelled into increased arts funding',' Mr Connolly said.

Mr Connolly proposed a restructuring of Federal Arts administration "seeking a more effective partnership between all levels of government, the private sector and the community as a whole.

"The Arts have reached a crisis point", Mr Connolly said, "There is no clear sense of direction in the Government's arts policy. On the one hand the Labor Government has a policy to encourage the development of community arts while on the other it is ambivalent in encouraging the Australia Council to

adequately fund our national flag carriers".

Mr Connolly also criticised the "unwieldy adminstrative control over Arts funding; overlaps between the various levels of government; and petty internicine brawls within the arts community and worse, between States such as Victoria and the Australia Council".

"The machinery of arts funding in Australia is not merely inefficient but obsolete. It has failed to keep pace with economic reality and the need to achieve financial viability on the one hand and independence for Australian arts organisations on the other.

"The Commonwealth Government has been unwilling to conduct its own investigations into the efficiency and effectiveness of the Australia Council and to develop new objectives for co-operation with the States and Local Government.