I struggled to find the words. I struggled to even find any words.
But this is what I wrote to the Senate Inquiry into the Impact of the 2014 and 2015 Commonwealth Budget Decisions on the Arts.
It’s not too late to get yours in – you have until midnight to submit here: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Legal_and_Constitutional_Affairs/Arts_Funding
11th July 2015
Re: Impact of the 2014 and 2015 Commonwealth Budget decisions on the Arts
I am an ex-highschool drop out and teenage parent who was caught, and saved in the net that excellent art weaves with and for communities and individuals.
I am now a writer, theatre-maker and cultural producer working for a small to medium organisation and independently. I was the recipient of the 2015 Australia Council Kirk Robson award which recognises outstanding leadership from young people working in community arts and cultural development, particularly in reconciliation and social justice.
Both emotionally and intellectually I am angry and disillusioned at the decision to divert funds from the Australia Council into setting up a new (non-peer reviewed) National Programme for Excellence in the Arts (NPEA).
With funding to the 28 Major Performing Arts (MPA’s) organisations quarantined, the Australia Council cuts will come from funding previously allocated for small to medium organisations and independent artists. But the NPEA’s draft guidelines state that it will not fund individuals, resulting in less funding and fewer opportunities for independent practitioners. Small to medium organisations, while in theory able to apply to the NPEA will be in direct competition with MPA’s under the draft guidelines and will have a smaller pool available via Australia Council. As a result establishing the NPEA by removing/redirecting money from Australia Council directly risks the entire ecosystem of Australian Arts and Culture now and more importantly (to me) into the future.
Excellent art and excellent artists come from a healthy ecosystem. Our excellent independent artists and small to medium sector feed the excellence of our MPA’s. They are not just linked but entwined – you only need to look at the CV’s of our highest ‘achievers’ to see how each of the layers overlaps and crisscrosses.
My career would not exist without the work* of two organisations who came together in partnership to make a theatre production with teenage mothers in 2004. Both those organisations submitted EOI’s earlier this year to Australia Council’s 6year organisational funding category, which was suspended in the wake of these funding cuts/changes. Both those organisations are now at risk – if not immediately, most definitely in the future – and as a result, so are future artistic leaders from diverse backgrounds (not just people who have the resources to pay). Other young people in the future may never even have the chance to discover that the arts have a place for them. Because we are erasing their place before their journey can even begin. With these cuts, and others like them, heading our way.
I work with hundreds of young people who are only just learning how to tell their story. They aren’t ready yet to write submissions to an inquiry or work for an MPA. But their stories and their options in the future matter. Their artistic voices matter, right now. They are already excellent and will grow more excellent IF (and only if) the ecosystem is there to nurture them to do so.
Excellence is not expensive lights and flawless technical execution. Excellence is in the striving, for more, for better, for everyone.
Sincerely and with a small dash of hope