Some of the biggest names in Australian literature are confronting the Prime Minister on the his recent budget cuts to the Arts. Hannah Kent, Michelle de Kretser, Angela Meyer, Benjamin Law and Christos Tsiolkas were among many others who signed a letter addressed to Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey and George Brandis… Read on:
Dear prime minister Tony Abbott, treasurer Joe Hockey and minister for arts George Brandis,
We view with dismay the many proposed changes to health, education and welfare support announced in the 2014 budget, and fear that the consequences these changes are likely to have will be dire for our most vulnerable citizens: the young, the elderly, the disadvantaged and Indigenous Australians.
We also strongly object to the reduction in arts funding, specifically the Australia Council’s loss of $28.2m (not to mention the attack on Australian screen culture with cuts of $38m to Screen Australia’s budget and a massive $120m cut from the ABC and SBS over the coming four years). This decrease in federal support will be devastating to those who make art of any kind in this country, and many important works, works that would inform national debate and expand the horizons of Australia and its citizens, will simply never be made. Ultimately, these cuts will impoverish Australian culture and society.
Cutting the support the Australia Council offers will mean the loss of libraries, galleries, museums, concerts, regional tours, writing centres, and community and regional arts centres. In 2009, 11m people visited an art gallery. To give that number context, it’s more people than went to the AFL and NRL combined. Those numbers tell us what many already know: that art is as crucial a part of our national identity as sport. Australians are passionate about creating, attending, consuming and investing in art.
The sector is “central to the social life of Australians”, as last year’s Creative Australia policy noted, and “an increasingly important part of the economic mainstream”. Following two comprehensive government reviews and a long process of consultation, the Creative Australia policy had promised to invest an additional $200m in the sector; there is no mention of this additional funding in the current budget.”
For the full letter click here.