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Australia Council Cuts Grants and Funds for 65 Organizations, Crippling the Visual Arts

  • Centre for Contemporary Photography in Melbourne jeporadized by the government's decision to decline the fundings - Image via Artblart com
May 18, 2016
Nadia Herzog is a pen name of Nadja Bozovic, a freelance journalist whose interest goes from the questioning influence of different art movements, through the connection of arts and urban space, to the art activism for social change. She enjoys interviewing artists and reading all about art history, and she is truly passionate about visual arts, especially about photography, design, graphics, multimedia, and street art in all of its forms.

The creativity of a nation is under the attack. With almost 40 percent of art spaces in Australia losing the funding for contemporary art projects in the next four years, the horrifying negative influence of that decision is yet to be seen – this is what an art authorities say about the outcome of the latest round of funding by the Australia Council. The exclusion of visual art sector from the four-year funding program launched a campaign against the government’s decision created by the art organizations directly hit by the decision. Federal government’s arts funding agency is accused of blowing a hurricane towards the contemporary visual arts in Australia, that might initiate some truly bad long-term consequences.

National Association of Visual Arts - one of the organizations hit with the Australia Council decision - Image via Cacsa org au
National Association of Visual Arts, one of the organizations hit with the Australia Council decision – Image via Cacsa.org.au

Important Institutions Excluded from the Program

The most recent decision made by the Australian government to decline funds to a great amount of the art institutions, contemporary art organizations, museums, and galleries nationwide really triggered the vast majority of the art authorities out there. A coalition of artists, museum directors, and the art schools’ principles issued a joint statement directed to Australia Council’s decision. And what was that decision all about? Let’s just say that 65 art organizations did not receive funding for the next four years. Among them are some of the very important art institutions, such as Centre for Contemporary Photography, National Association of Visual Arts, Art Gallery of NSW, Monash University Museum of Art, Art Gallery of South Australia, and much more. In the official statement, they claim to understand the reasons for cutting the budget down, but what they see as a problem is the fact that a major part of an important cultural sector is being hit with that reduce, and for them this is unacceptable. They claim that contemporary art organizations make a platform for accelerating careers of young and aspiring artists and helping them break into the international art market. Without funding, as they say, artists do not stand much of a chance.

Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA) signed the joind statemen - Image via pgav org au
Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA) signed the joint statement – Image via Pgav.org.au

Political Act Against Art?

The politics is hidden behind the act of Australia Council and its decision on cutting off the grants for certain contemporary art organizations claims Keith Windschuttle, editor-in-chief of the conservative magazine Quadrant, as The Guardian reported. Council’s decision he called the „act of revenge from an arts bureaucracy controlled by the leftists“. Windschuttle claims that due to that „political decision“, the Quadrant was left without a grant of $60,000. As reported by the media, literary magazine Menjin may even be closed because of the lack of funds. And there are more of similar examples, as this act could possibly have a huge impact on the future work of many organizations. On the other side, there are 128 artistic organizations which did get the Australia Council grant. Altogether, the Council will pay $112M throughout the different grants over the years. Federal government authorities say that they have reached the peak and that they, unfortunately, cannot fund everyone.

Aggie the robot, at the AGWA - Image via Abc net au
Aggie the robot, at the AGWA – Image via Abc.net.au

Meet Aggie, the Robot-Curator

Aggie can walk, talk, and dance, and she is going to explain the art to the visitors of the Art Gallery of Western Australia (AGWA), as they recently announced. After the museum failed to get the government funds, as many other Australian art institutions, they came up with the idea – they will make a robot-curator! So, they were thinking, when there is not enough budget for employing real people as art experts, curators, and guides, it will be a robot’s work then. That is how Aggie was born. She has a good knowledge of art history, a loud voice and a great sense of humor. And now, she is all set up and ready to go for work. If the AGWA is only being sarcastic about the funding issue or the robotic curators may actually be the future of art exhibitions, only time will tell. Until then, Australian contemporary art organizations will continue their fight for a fair funding program by the government.

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Featured image: Centre for Contemporary Photography in Melbourne jeopardized by the government’s decision to decline the grants – Image via Artblart.com