3 July 2015

Arts Funding Update

Protesters expressed their opposition to the arts funding changes in dance during a national day of action in May. Photo: Justin McManus
Protesters expressed their opposition to the arts funding changes in dance during a national day of action in May. Photo: Justin McManus

What’s going on?

The last few months have been a turbulent time in the arts, with the announcement of the Federal Budget in May revealing that $104.8 million will be cut from the Australia Council, in order to establish a new National Program for Excellence in the Arts (NPEA). It is understood that the NPEA will not apply the arm’s length principle of the Australia Council, as funds will be at the discretion of the Federal Minister for the Arts.

A further $7.2 million in ‘efficiency savings’ will also be cut from the Australia Council over the next four years, while $5.2 million will be redirected to Creative Partnerships Australia (CPA) to foster private sector support for the arts.

These announcements follow a major restructure and revision of Australia Council funding programs in response to the $28.2 million cut in the 2014 Budget.

What impact will this have on the arts sector?

There is also considerable concern about the way in which the new model will operate and the potential for the changes to impact on freedom of expression.

With no reduction to the funding of the 28 major performing arts organisations, we believe it will be independent artists and the small to medium arts sector that will bear the burden of these changes.

Earlier this week, the Federal Arts Minister released the draft guidelines for the NPEA. The guidelines confirm that the NPEA will not support applications from individual artists or support operational funding for organisations.

What impact will this have on Express Media?

Express Media is currently in receipt of triennial funding from the Australia Council as one of 145 small to medium organisations recognised for their national leadership in artistic vibrancy and sector development. This funding contributes to our core operational costs and allows us to maintain a program of support and ongoing opportunities for young writers.

While Express Media’s funding is secure until the end of 2016, it is uncertain whether the Australia Council will provide multi-year operational funding in the future. If multi-year operational funding is not available or is drastically reduced beyond 2016, Express Media will be limited in the amount of support and opportunities it can continue to provide.

What impact will this have on young writers?

The Literature Section of the Australia Council already has one of the smallest pools of available funding and prioritising excellence at the expense of development further endangers our fragile community. Implementing a top-down approach to arts funding ignores the interconnectivity of our ecology. Without an investment in development there may not be a next generation of writers, artists and arts managers to create excellent work.

The Australia Council has already announced that the ArtStart grants program designed to support new graduates to develop a sustainable arts practice has been cut, while other programs such as Artists in Residence and the Creative Communities Partnerships will no longer be offered. The full impact of the cuts have yet to be seen, however it is expected that there will be further reductions in grants and funding available to independent artists and the organisations that support them.

What can I do to ensure that young writers continue to receive support from Express Media?

While we continue to maintain a high level of support, provide opportunities and advocate for young writers, there are a number of ways that you can help our voices to be heard. For the last thirty years, Express Media has had a significant impact on the lives and careers of young people across the country. Now is the time to let Government know that Express Media is vital to the development of writing and media and relevant to the broader community.

A Senate Inquiry has been called to investigate the impact of the 2014 and 2015 Commonwealth Budget decisions on the Arts. Anyone can lodge a submission to the inquiry, but you only have until July 17 to contribute.

Express Media strongly encourages all members, subscribers and friends of the organisation to lodge a submission by writing to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee.

Your submission could include:

  • Your credentials (as an independent artist or other arts professional, representative of an organisation, audience member, arts supporter, arts educator etc.)
  • Comments you want to make about the Commonwealth Government’s budget decisions in 2014 and 2015
  • The rationale for your views
  • The potential impact of these budget decisions on the arts and/or your role in the arts
  • Your experience in/of the arts.

You can read examples of submissions here:


You can lodge your submission by email or in hard copy at the address below:

Committee Secretary

Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee

PO Box 6100

Parliament House

Canberra ACT 2600


And lastly…

Remember that by advocating for maintaining levels of funding available through the Australia Council, you are ensuring that young and emerging artists will continue to have access to opportunities for development. By advocating for maintaining funding for small to medium organisations like Express Media, you are ensuring that Government understand the value of the support we offer. By sharing your own experience and contributing your own voice, you are ensuring that a diversity of vibrant and innovative young artists are included in the conversation about the future of the arts in Australia.