Senate Inquiry into federal arts budget decisions

Arts money

Warhol Dollar via Flickr under Creative Commons.

Senate Inquiry into federal budget decisions affecting the Arts

As many readers would know on 16 June 2015, the Senate announced the Legal and Constitution Affairs References Committee would review the impact of the recent federal budget decisions affecting the Arts, including the suitability and appropriateness of establishing the National Programme for Excellence in the Arts (NPEA) to be administered by the Ministry for the Arts.

The NPEA diverts $104.8 million from the Australia Council’s budget over four years, reducing funding for small-to-medium arts organisations and individual artists. M&G NSW/NETS, like many arts organisations that receives funding from the Australia Council to provide its services, has already been impacted by this budget cut with the suspension of the Australia Council’s new six year funding program.

Over the last 3 years, NETS exhibitions were seen by 1.77 million people Australia wide, the majority of whom live in regional and remote areas.

In response to national protest and lobbying the Senate Inquiry will consider:

  • the effect on funding arrangements for artists and arts organisations,
  • protection of freedom of artistic expression and prevention of political influence,
  • the degree of access to a diversity of quality art and cultural experiences,
  • the criteria for funding and implementation processes for the NPEA, and
  • issues of duplication of administration and resourcing in the Arts.

The Committee has now called for submissions from the public and M&G NSW will be making a submission focused on the impact changes in funding will likely have on the National Exhibitions Touring Support (NETS) Australia group, (of which we are the NSW representative).

Small-to-medium sized arts organisations and artists play a significant role in the arts ecosystem. Funding opportunities have long driven their programs and practice, providing space, time and resources to develop creative outcomes tied to community connection, experimentation, and new ideas – often resulting in pathways to new levels of excellence, audience growth and participation.

And so it is for M&G NSW through its National Exhibitions Touring Support (NETS) Australia network involvement – the network is comprised of seven state and territory organisations: Artback NT, Art on the Move WA, Contemporary Art Tasmania, Country Arts SA, Museums & Galleries of NSW, Museums & Galleries QLD and NETS Victoria.

Under the NETS banner each of these organisations run a distinct and complementary service, funded by the Australia Council since the late 80’s, to develop and deliver contemporary visual arts to regional and remote Australia.

Over the last 3 years, NETS exhibitions were seen by 1.77 million people Australia wide, the majority of whom live in regional and remote areas. Proposed funding changes that discount providing organisational support to service providers such as M&G NSW/NETS will seriously degrade access and opportunity where its most needed.


We encourage you to make an online submission, which close 17 July 2015. Submissions only need to be short expressions of your concern or support for the federal budget decisions affecting the Arts. The Committee’s report is due to be published on 15 September 2015.

Click here to make a submission to the Committee. 


Michael Rolfe. CEO, Musuems & Galleries of NSW

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