'A close look at the public budgets of the Australian Government Ministry for the Arts over the last few years is a clear case of a smoking gun. It reveals serious cuts to overall Ministry program funds almost every year since the 2014-15 budget, stretching long into the future, with levels down from around $198.5m in 2013-14 to just over $184m in 2015-16, with a projected drop even further to around $171.4m in 2018-19. This is a 13.7% drop from 2013-14 to 2018-19. There are odd blips but the overall trend is clearly down. Worst of all, it’s not as if these programs have ever been massive ones by any measure, so these cuts have been made to what are extremely modest and lean programs to start with.'
Towards the end of last year I published an article, ‘National arts and culture funding – follow the money’, looking at cuts to the program funding managed by the Ministry for the Arts in the Australian Government's Department of Communications and the Arts. The article analysed figures available in the public Portfolio Budget Statements which each Australian Government Department publishes annually.
At the time I was so shocked by what the figures showed about cuts in the last two budgets that I simply published the table of amounts and some explanatory notes about where the figures came from without further explanation. I assumed the picture would be clear enough from the figures.
|Government actions, including cuts to crucial programs, have produced strong reactions but it has been surprisingly ineffective, beyond removing a Prime Minister.|
Since then a number of people have asked me to draw out the implications of these figures more explicitly. I have attempted to do that in this article. I also republish an updated version of the table from the earlier article, reflecting new developments since Brandis was replaced by Fifield as Minister and showing the different components of funding involved.