Funds in firing line

A DRASTIC change to arts funding has the potential to cause serious damage to the industry, according to Fremantle-based visual artist representative Artsource.

The statement comes after Artsource joined Perth art, theatre and culture representatives addressing a senate committee into changes to the federal arts budget in 2014 and 2015.

The senate inquiry visited Perth to hear about the impact the last two budgets will have on Perth�s art community, including the introduction of the National Program for Excellence in the Arts (NPEA).

Under the new system, the NPEA will allocate more than $100 million over four years, funding which had previously been handed out through the Australia Council in an impartial process.

Funding for major groups were guaranteed before the changes, but many in the industry remain concerned about how smaller organisations and local artists will cope.

Artsource chief executive Gavin Buckley said with 900 members, they were �deeply concerned� about the changes to funding.

�To introduce such a radical change to the arts funding process without full and proper consultation has potential to cause serious damage,� he said.

�Our individual artist members are excluded from the minister�s new NPEA fund and the monies remaining for them at the Australia Council are much reduced, impacting on both individual artists and small to medium sized arts organisations.

�The changes made in the Federal Budget will make things even harder for artists in WA, a state that has in the past not benefitted from federal arts funding to the proportion one would expect for the size of our population.�

Artsource chair Miik Green said they were calling for the NPEA to be repealed and the funding restored to the Australia Council.

The Chamber of Arts and Culture WA executive director Henry Boston said 29 witnesses from various art organisations had their say during the inquiry.

�The money removed from the Australia Council was earmarked to support small to medium arts organisations and individual artists,� he said.

�By the end of the hearing it was clear that the senators understood the diversity of arts practice in WA and the enormous return on investment that the arts give to governments.�

The senate inquiry report is due in November.