Yesterday Theatre Network (Vic) wrote to new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, urging him to take the Arts Portfolio off George Brandis, to recall the NPEA and to return the $104.8 million to the Australia Council for the arts. See below.
As reported on Arts Hub today, TNV Director Nicole Beyer said “It is not too late to prevent one of the worst decisions in the history of arts funding from decimating the arts in Australia. The NPEA guidelines have not yet been released, and we know that the Ministry has been stunned by the pushback by the sector to the budget changes.”
LETTER SENT TO PRIME MINISTER MALCOLM TURNBULL
15 September, 2015
PO Box 6022,
House of Representatives
Canberra, ACT 2600
Dear Mr Turnbull,
RE: Recall the proposed National Programme for Excellence in the Arts
I am writing to you on behalf of the Australian performing arts industry to urge you to immediately recall Senator Brandis’ proposed National Programme for Excellence in the Arts (NPEA), and return the money to the Australia Council for the Arts – the arms length funding body from which $104.8million over four years was pulled at the last budget.
As the current Senate Inquiry (Impact of the 2014 and 2015 Commonwealth Budget decisions on the Arts) has overwhelmingly shown, the NPEA was brought in after no consultation with the arts industry or with the Australia Council, and it has already begun to devastate the small to medium and independent arts sectors, and impact on the 28 major performing arts organisations.
It is not too late to recall the NPEA. The Ministry for the Arts has not yet released the final NPEA guidelines, and as Senator Brandis himself has conceded, they did not expect the huge response to the budget changes (2260 Senate Inquiry submissions!) and are overwhelmed with the realities of setting up a (duplicate) arts funding program. Australia does not need the NPEA, there was no evidence for bringing it in, and the funding that was pulled from the Australia Council for the Arts to fund it, halted the implementation of a new reform program that the Australia Council had been working on hand-in-hand with the industry since 2012.
Senator Brandis has failed to be the advocate and steward for the arts that he promised, and no longer merits the role of Arts Minister. The last five months have caused significant upheaval and distress within the arts industry and beyond. The government under your leadership should cut its losses now and appoint a new Arts Minister.
We attach our submission to the Senate Inquiry, at which we presented our testimonial at the Melbourne Hearing on 5th August, calling for the NPEA to be recalled. As you will know, there is another Senate Hearing this Friday 18th September, in Adelaide, and we believe there will be a final Hearing in Sydney. The arts industry – individual artists, academics, peak bodies, and arts organisations small and large – have been presenting a flood of evidence that the budget changes were a mistake and must be rolled back. Now is the time to do it. We urge you.
Director, Theatre Network (Vic)
Co-convenor, ArtsPeak National