13/05/2016 - 15:36

Winners and losers in arts grants

13/05/2016 - 15:36

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Eleven Western Australian arts groups have secured four-year funding deals under a long-awaited announcement from the Australia Council for the Arts, leaving four WA arts groups that have been getting government funding with an uncertain future.

Winners and losers in arts grants
Chamber of Arts and Culture WA executive director Henry Boston.

Eleven Western Australian arts groups have secured four-year funding deals under a long-awaited announcement from the Australia Council for the Arts, leaving four WA arts groups that have been getting government funding with an uncertain future.

The 11 successful applicants will get $2.55 million per year to help run their operations over the next four years.

They are among 128 groups nationally that will share in $28 million per annum.

A further 134 arts groups applied for funding but were not successful.

The WA recipients include three groups that will get recurrent funding for the first time – Aboriginal dance group Marrugeku, West Perth-based ‘tactical media’ arts group PVI Collective, and Warburton Youth Arts Centre.

Four WA recipients will obtain the maximum possible funding of $300,000 per annum - Community Arts Network WA, Marrugeku, the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts and Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company.

Groups that are currently funded under the Key Organisations program but failed to secure operational funding under the four-year program include DADAA, FORM and International Ar Space.

Chamber of Arts and Culture WA executive director Henry Boston congratulated the recipients but expressed concern about funding trends.

"There is a concern that the changes in funding have adversely affected key disciplines such as dance and visual arts with a number of organisations being unsuccessful with their four year funding applications," Mr Boston said.

Mr Boston noted that some groups would obtain project funding under other programs, such as the Australian government’s Catalyst program, but also had concerns about that scheme.

“The opaque manner in which the Catalyst fund program has been rolled out recently has not fostered confidence that the priorities of the arts and cultural sector and the community are forefront in the decision making process,” he said.

“Western Australia can rightly feel aggrieved that its longstanding complaint regarding funding inequity has once again been highlighted by the state's 5.37 per cent share of Catalyst funding announced to date.

“What is clear from the initial federal funding results is that all the disruption caused by the difficult birth of Catalyst and the subsequent adjustments to the Australia Council funding programs has brought minimal change to Western Australia's traditional and meagre share of federal funding.”

The Confederation of Australian State Theatre Companies - which includes Black Swan State Theatre Company - has called on the Federal government to formally review its budget cuts to the Australia Council after today’s announcement, which will result in 62 established arts organisations failing to secure funding.

In a statement, CAST said it considers these cuts and subsequent defunding of arts organisations to be a deeply concerning outcome.

‘It is virtually certain that a number of the key organisations defunded today won’t survive. While CAST acknowledges that the government’s new Catalyst program might provide funding for some projects that may have previously been supported by the Australia Council, project funding is of little use to a company that has no operational support to exist in the first place,’ the CAST Executive Council said.

Australia Council chief executive Tony Grybowski said the four year funding program was a key component of the Culturally Ambitious Nation strategy, designed to foster a vibrant and sustainable arts sector.

“The 128 small to medium organisations receiving four year funding represent diverse art forms and types of practice from across the country, including 25 per cent from regional and remote areas,” Mr Grybowski said.

“These companies support the development of Australian artists and have each articulated a compelling strategic plan to deliver artistically and culturally vibrant programs, and inventive ways to expand their audiences and markets.”

Mr Grybowski said this was the first time organisations across all areas of practice seeking multi-year funding were assessed at the same time.

"This has enabled organisations to be viewed as part of an holistic national framework, within areas of practice and across the arts sector as a whole," he said.

Mr Grybowski said It was always intended that fewer companies would be funded at a higher level, demonstrated by the average funding for organisations increasing annually by $62,000, compared to the previous programs. 

The Australia Council said no organisations have been cut or defunded.

The current cohort of small to medium organisations have contracts until December 2016 and would always have had to apply in a competitive environment for the next round of multi-year organisational funding, it said in a statement.

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