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Arts – Budget Allocation

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Monday, 6 June 2022

Tags: Arts, State Budget, Budget Cuts

Dr WOODRUFF - Minster we do disagree with your interpretation of what the Budget says. You have a different way of reading the Forward Estimates than most people do. That is simply the fact that if you were to spend the 2021 budget on Arts in 2022-23, 2023-24, 2024 25 and 2025-26, there is $25 million less from your Government going into Arts, Screen and Arts development. That is in the context of the devastation that COVID-19 has brought on the Arts and cultural industries. The creative industries are really suffering, they have failed to get the support that other industries, hospitality industries did from the federal government and it is really showing. I do not know how you can possibly justify having a $25 million cut on what last year's investment was given, that it is nationally 20 times the employer of the mining industry, for example. The creative arts industry provides 20 times the employment, it is a fundamental part.

Ms ARCHER - Is there a question I can address?

Dr WOODRUFF - The question is how can you justify that? You have taken that money away from development grants.

Ms ARCHER - The member purports to know the Art's budget more than the Minister for the Arts and I say that is disingenuous to characterise that the end of none recurrent COVID 19 support initiatives as a funding cut. When I announced all of these grants they were for COVID-19 relief. I will remind the member that the Art's community are now able to put on shows, put on festivals, return to their performances with still having the protection of our $2 million fund, the Live Performance Support Fund is still available until 30 September this year and I will review that at that point in time. It is disingenuous to say that non-recurrent funding is a cut to the Art's sector.

It was always to provide relief and recovery. We are now in the recovery phase where Art's and the cultural and creative industries are able to return. We do not have the limits that had or the restrictions in place which we had, which the purpose of the COVID-19 funding was to provide relief during that period that our Art's community were not able to operate or work. They are able to work now.

I have spoken to a lot in the Art's community and they do not want to be continually reliant on the COVID-19 grant supports and recognise that was non-recurrent funding. The Greens have got it wrong, they can keep saying all they like but it is non-recurrent funding and there has been no cuts to the Art's sector, in fact, there has been only an increase of our recurrent funding.

Dr WOODRUFF - The art sector in Tasmania was desperately underfunded before COVID-19 and then COVID-19 created a situation where artists did not get support from the federal government as other industry groups did. We are in a situation now where there has been two years of non-support. You cannot just turn careers and people back on like a tap. Many people have had to go and find other work.

In this space what peak bodies are telling they need more than anything is to separate the operational funding they need to get on a recurrent basis from the program funding which they get from your department for individual programs. Unless there is a commitment to functionally supporting the peak bodies themselves then we are going to continue to go backwards in terms of keeping those organisations viable.

Ms ARCHER - Time allowing members their full contingent of questions, Dr Woodruff's questions are very long. I can say to Dr Woodruff.

Dr WOODRUFF - Your answers are usually quite long when they are not asked for so I do not think that is fair. I have a one-minute allocation and I have not gone over that.

Ms ARCHER - I can say to Dr Woodruff that at the moment we are reviewing our Art's organisation funding, which I might get Dr Sudmalis to address if that is possible.

We are mindful of the fact the timing of a lot of the funding needs to be looked at. We have feedback from Art's organisations so, if you are referring to peak bodies that includes our Art's organisation funding. Dr Sudmalis might like to say something further about that but we are in the process of reviewing our Art's organisation's funding.

Dr SUDMALIS - What the minister has outlined in terms of undertaking a review of Art's organisation funding is correct. We are in the very early stages of undertaking discrete conversations with our Art's organisations and organisations that would typically sit outside of the Art's Tasmania funding group, recognising that the ecology of arts and arts organisations in particular, is, inherently broader then the constituency that we would ordinarily work alongside.

The $1.2 million uplift to arts organisations that the minister has referred to, is the subject of some thought as to how that will be best applied to the sector. It is simply not a matter of putting more money into the pool and having it competitively applied for without having a strategy to ensure that money is best placed to ensure some sort of sustainability.

I refer to an idea and a program providing support and opportunities for Tasmanian performing arts touring companies to move around the state, to present work to Tasmanian audiences, as a way to differentiate it itself from broad arts organisation funding but something that is really quite specific.

These conversations are active and underway with members of the arts organisation community. We expect that by the end of the year we will have a much more considered piece of advice to provide the minister on that funding opportunity.

Ms ARCHER - We are looking at how we can best administer that, because there is so much competition. Also, I know there are a lot of arts organisation and other companies that do not want to rely on government funding and want to be self-sustainable. We need to look at that as a conversation as well, which we looked at in our Cultural and Creative Industry Recovery Strategy 2020 and beyond - such a long title - what we can do as a government to assist organisations and those participating in the industry.

We also want to ensure their future sustainability so that they are not in a situation, as we're seeing from time to time in the theatre. It's very competitive with arts organisation funding. It is peer reviewed and peer assessed. There was a period when I created a separate fund to give a two-year lifeline to theatre companies, but I cannot keep doing that. We need to ensure that they can be competitive and apply for funding and be successful.

I know a lot do take on board the feedback that they get back in return from Arts Tasmania, as do our screen organisations in funding from Screen Tasmania. It is competitive, I suppose there will never be an ideal model, but we have certainly tried to create one by having a peer assessment but we are always open to feedback, which Dr. Sudmalis referred to when he talked about discreet conversations with organisations.