The announcement by new Arts Minister, Mitch Fifield that he will step back to a degree from the decision of his predecessor about national arts funding is a good call – but not good enough. The original decision by previous Arts Minister George Brandis transferred $110 million over four years from the Australia Council to the Ministry for the Arts to create a new program, the so-called National Program for Excellence in the Arts.
Instead Fifield will only retain $78 million dollars over four years for the Ministry and return $32 million to the Australia Council over the same period. The problem is that the amount being retained is almost 71% of the original amount, so the amount going back is not that significant.
|When redrawing the arts funding map it's crucial to have both a sense of history and a strategic framework|
This is what happens when there is no policy framework or set of strategic principles guiding changes to programs or development of new programs. We see chopping and changing, shifts of position for no apparent reason. Flexibility is an excellent thing and so are attempts to develop new programs to support areas that might not have been able to gain support before. The problem is ad hoc policy on the run is no substitute for carefully thought through changes. What happens is that, without an overall framework that provides a rationale and a guide, even well-intentioned attempts to fix a problem don't really ever succeed.