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The Arts need some good news, for a change.

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The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP Shadow Minister for Environment, Heritage and the Arts Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs Federal Liberal Member for Murray

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Media Enquiries: Robert Hardie 02 6277 4477 / 0418 432 909

The Arts need some good news, for a change

Shadow Minister for the Arts, Dr Sharman Stone, said next Tuesday’s federal Budget will be Labor Arts Minister Peter Garrett’s opportunity to prove he can actually deliver for the Arts, adding the Howard Government’s record commitment to the Arts in 2007-08 of $640 million will be the yardstick against which the Minister will be judged.

“Peter Garrett made much of his concern for the Arts in pre-election postulations, but he has in fact allowed $40 million to be slashed from Arts budgets since becoming Minister six months ago. A review of Labor’s pre-election commitments shows lots of talk, symbols and pledges, but little on details like costs, timeframes and actions.

“Since the election, the Rudd Labor Government’s Razor Gang has slashed: • $20.4 million from the ‘Australia on the World Stage’ programme, promoting cultural diplomacy between Australian artists and overseas missions; • $4.49 million from the Australia Council for the Arts, forcing the sacking of up to 40


• $10.97 million from the national collections institutions (National Library, National Gallery, National Museum, National Maritime Museum); and • $2.9 million from the new Screen Australia authority through cuts to the soon to be abolished Film Australia, Film Finance Corporation and Australian Film Commission. That’s a massive $40 million in funding cut from the Arts in just six months.

“The Collections Institutions are still unsure whether additional funding provided by the Howard Government to offset depreciation will continue to be paid by the Rudd Government. If not, that’s a further 1.25 per cent funding cut to the collecting institutions and will mean acquisition, exhibition and touring cannot proceed.

“Important Coalition reforms for the film industry have still not been carried forward, reforms the Minister claimed were ‘crucial’ to foster the industry’s development.

“For example, the executive positions for the new Screen Australia authority have only now been advertised and board positions remain vacant. The Rudd Government expects the film industry be fully engaged, but still has not resolved key issues about eligibility for government rebates. There is widespread disappointment about the Minister’s lack of engagement and, it seems, commitment to the industry.

Dr Stone said the arts training bodies had also been left wondering about their future.

“Training bodies like the National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA), the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), the Australian Youth Orchestra (AYO) and the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM) can only function effectively with some long term government commitment to their funding. They need to be assured they are will not be cut.

“This budget will be a very big test for Minister Peter Garrett and will clearly demonstrate whether Labor is serious about Australia’s cultural life and the nurturing of our excellence and innovation in performing and visual arts. -ENDS