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Cultural sector welcomes Tony Burke

In The Australian today, Opera Australia artistic director, Lyndon Terracini, says new Arts Minister, Tony Burke, was the 'best possible replacement' for Mr Crean in the arts portfolio.

The article goes on to quote Bethwyn Serow, executive director of the Australian Major Performing Arts Group, who said it was beneficial that the arts was again represented by a senior minister.

'(The cultural policy) will need that experience and interest to keep it on track in the final days before the Budget comes out,' Ms Serow said.

The article follows:

Cultural sector welcomes Tony Burke

A GUITAR player and opera-goer, Environment Minister Tony Burke has been welcomed to the arts portfolio by a cultural sector awaiting the fate of the national cultural policy.

Julia Gillard tapped Mr Burke for the arts portfolio after she sacked former arts minister Simon Crean for calling last week's leadership spill.

"He has a long-standing interest in the arts and was a keen recruit to the task," Ms Gillard said.

Mr Burke said the $235 million Creative Australia policy would be implemented in full. "I think the policy's great and it's an honour to have the opportunity to implement it,'' he said. "Those commitments are government policy ... and I am getting ahead with implementing them."

He said he would look at concerns raised by Arts Access Australia about the policy's support for artists with disability.

Opera Australia artistic director Lyndon Terracini said Mr Burke was the "best possible replacement" for Mr Crean in the arts portfolio. "Tony Burke comes more often than any other politician to the opera,'' Mr Terracini said.  "He loves it and he is a tremendous supporter. It's a really good appointment."

Bethwyn Serow, executive director of the Australian Major Performing Arts Group, said it was beneficial that the arts was again represented by a senior minister.

"(The cultural policy) will need that experience and interest to keep it on track in the final days before the Budget comes out,'' Ms Serow said.

Mr Burke, whose Watson electorate is in southwest Sydney, said he often attended performances by Opera Australia, Sydney Theatre Company, Belvoir and Bell Shakespeare.

"I play both guitar and piano poorly," he said. "I still have piano lessons once a week from a blues teacher in Sydney, and I am often seen travelling with a guitar."

Ms Gillard also appointed Melbourne MP Michael Danby as Parliamentary Secretary for the Arts. She said his lifelong commitment to the arts began when he was a teenager and working in his mother's art gallery.