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Sydney Dance Company rescue plan scuttled.

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Senator Kim Carr

Labor Senator for Victoria Shadow Minister for Public Administration and Open Government, Indigenous Affairs and Reconciliation and the Arts

16 June 2005

Sydney Dance Company rescue plan scuttled

The future of the world renowned Sydney Dance Company is again in doubt after news that the Australia Council will trash its own rescue plan for the company.

The forthright review cost $25,000 and was commissioned and produced internally by a member of the Australia Council board, Ian McRae. It recommended a complete overhaul of the company's funding model as the only way to ensure the company's survival.

The Council has always been uncomfortable about the report's incisive findings. The report was not released publicly until Labor tabled a copy in the recent Senate Estimates hearings.

If the Council don't like Ian McRae's recommendations, it is fair to ask whose are they going to like?

The trashing of the report is a waste of money, a very scarce resource in arts funding. It is also a symptom of an unwillingness to face up to the companies very serious structural financial problems.

Arts Minister Rod Kemp refused to answer questions in Senate Question Time today, inexplicably describing the SDC's financial woes as temporary. He said the Australia Council and SDC's boards had agreed to take funds from future allocations for use now. This is nothing but a stop-gap measure, and if the Minister thinks it is anything else he is kidding himself.

McRae is adamant. "It is my view that the Sydney Dance Company is not sustainable under the current funding arrangements."

Amongst the McRae recommendations the Australia Council, and it seems the Government, will not accept, are:

• The Commonwealth must urgently ensure that grants to arts organisations are indexed to CPI; • The total grant for the SDC must increase by $128,000 a year to be sustainable.

The Howard Government has slowly starved arts organisations of funding. It would be a national tragedy if the SDC was the next casualty.

Further information: Kim Carr 0419 563 922, Catriona Jackson, 0417 142 238. Electorate Office: 62 Lygon St CARLTON SOUTH 3053 Ph: 03 9639 2798 Fax: 03 9639 3109

Canberra Office: Parliament house CANBERRA ACT 2600 Ph: 02 6277 3730 Fax: 02 6277 5911 Email: Toll Free Number: 1800 673 169