Labor’s main aim is to fix what it believes to be the mistakes of the Coalition Government – cutting the Australia Council’s funding and diverting funds to the Catalyst Arts and Culture Fund – what it calls the Coalition’s “slush fund”.
Shadow Minister for the Arts Mark Dreyfus has criticised the announcing of $24 million worth of grants from the fund in the two weeks before the pre-election caretaker period began. He has said that the party will recommit to its Gillard Government policy, Creative Australia, cut by the Coalition when it came into power.
Abolishing the Catalyst Arts and Culture Fund
Returning all unspent funds to the Australia Council.
Recommitting to the Creative Australia policy introduced by the Gillard Government.
Rebuilding trust and confidence in the arts sector
Labor has promised to return what it describes as the lost Australia Council funding. The funding, approximately $105 million, was taken from the council (the Australian Government’s arts funding and advisory body) in the 2015 budget, in part to create the Catalyst arts and culture fund.
Mr Dreyfus has said, “Australia Council is the country’s premier arts funding body.” Catalyst “has haphazardly doled out money in a way that undermines the principle of independent, arms-length arts funding in Australia”.
Labor wants to recommit to the Gillard Government’s Creative Australia policy, created in 2013 and described by Dreyfus as Creative Australia as “stillborn”, with none of its goals achieved. It was envisaged to deliver a $75.3 million increase to Australia Council funding over four years, but the Coalition was elected six months later.
Labor says that the Creative Australia policy will ensure that government support reflects the diversity of Australia. “Our policy encourages and nurtures the arts, creative industries and cultural heritage, in particular our Indigenous cultural heritage.”