The Australian Major Performing Arts Group today welcomed the Federal Government’s release of Creative Australia, the new national cultural policy, and the $235 million attached to it.
In launching the policy, the Minister for the Arts, Simon Crean, recognised the valuable contribution the arts make to our social and economic life – and the crucial role that partnerships play in the support of the arts.
‘We welcome the Minister recognising the need for certainty of continued funding to the major performing arts companies that will ensure they can provide ongoing excellence in performance and community engagement’, AMPAG’s chair, Derek Young, said today.
‘We also welcome the Minister’s specific reference to the extension of the partnerships with the states, through the introduction of an ‘excellence pool’ for the major performing arts companies with state/federal matched funding.’
AMPAG was also gratified to learn that six of the major performing arts companies previously determined as being under-funded will have their base funding adjusted, with a total of $9.3 million.
‘Companies of such importance to the national psyche as Circus Oz, Bangarra, Belvoir, Malthouse, WA Ballet and the Black Swan State Theatre Company cannot operate to their full capability without this national support.
‘We also welcome new dollars for training institutions for elite artists, recognising the critical need to support and nurture excellence in the arts.’
AMPAG also noted Minister Crean’s hope for bispartisan support which is crucial for any real change to occur now.
‘The funds we spend on culture are quite modest compared with other countries. We lag well behind other comparable countries at 0.084 per cent of GDP. Canada’s is almost twice as much at 0.156 per cent of GDP and New Zealand’s is over twice the rate at 0.198 per cent’, Bethwyn Serow, AMPAG’s Executive Director, said.
AMPAG also welcomed the government’s recognition of the significant role played by the private sector in the sustainability of the arts sector.
‘Encouraging and broadening the culture of giving can only have a positive impact on the companies’ bottom line,’ Ms Serow said.
AMPAG also supports the government’s recognition of Australia’s oldest continuing culture, with new spending for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture of $14 million.
‘We will look at Creative Australia over the coming weeks, to properly gauge its impact, including the role of the Arts Accord, the impact for performing arts companies of the new digital spending, and the detail of the Australia Council restructure’, Ms Serow said.
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Who is AMPAG?
The Australian Major Performing Arts Group represents the 28 member companies with charitable status from six states, giving them a national voice. The companies produce drama, dance, orchestral and chamber music, opera and circus for Australian and international audiences. Every year they provide employment for around 8500 performers, musicians, artists, designers, technical producers and arts administrators, and attract a voluntary workforce of over 5000 people.
AMPAG companies are sustained through ticket sales, philanthropic support and the vital funding partnerships between federal, state and local government. Their aim is to be economically prudent and sustainable, balancing commercial forces with vibrant cultural content that is accessible to all parts of the community.
While our members’ pursuit of excellence in their mainstage work is a vital part of their cultural output, they are also active in education, community engagement and international cultural exchange. As major companies within the performing arts sector they are keenly aware of their role to nurture industry talent and ideas and their responsibility to help build creative capacity across the Australian society.