The Confederation of Australian State Theatre Companies (CAST) calls on the Coalition to make a renewed commitment to return Australia Council for the Arts funding to 2013 levels and to abolish the Catalyst program, unless additional funds can be found for it.
Catalyst is the Australian Government's new funding program for the arts, overseen by Arts Minister Mitch Fifield. It was previously known as the National Program for Excellence in the Arts when it was announced by former federal Arts Minister George Brandis in 2015.
Catalyst funds have been taken directly from the Australia Council, resulting in the loss of crucial funding to the arts sector. More than half the arts organisations that applied for funding failed to receive organisational support from the Australia Council's four-year funding round, and 65 previously-funded arts organisations no longer have funding.
CAST is made up of Sydney Theatre Company, Bell Shakespeare, Belvoir St Theatre, Black Swan Theatre Company, Malthouse Theatre, Melbourne Theatre Company, Queensland Theatre Company and State Theatre Company of South Australia.
Today, CAST released the following statement.
CAST Welcomes Labor and Greens Arts Policy Announcements
7 June 2016
The Confederation of Australian State Theatre Companies (CAST) has welcomed the arts policy platform announced by The Greens on Monday 30 May and the Labor arts launch on Saturday 4 June.
Both platforms commit to the returning of funding to the Australia Council for the Arts and the abolition of the Catalyst program ensuring the principle of arms-length funding is protected. Labor’s plan to return Catalyst funding to the Australia Council and to invest an additional $20million per year would reverse the damage done in the 2015 budget but would not return to Labor’s 2013 Creative Australia commitment. CAST welcomes the Labor commitment to additional funding for ABC drama and notes the interconnectedness of the performing arts and screen industries in their employment of artists and arts workers. The companies call on Labor to rebuild its arts commitment to 2013 levels.
CAST calls on the Coalition to make a renewed commitment to return Australia Council funding to 2013 levels and to abolish the Catalyst program unless additional funds can be found for it.
‘The arts contributes over $4.2 billion to GDP in Australia*,’ the CAST Executive Council said. ‘To ensure that this highly productive industry continues to contribute at this rate, government support at a level that sustains the entire industry is essential'.
This statement is co-signed by the Confederation of Australian State Theatre Companies and the executive management of each organisation.
*Figure from the 2015 Arts Nation report published by the Australia Council for the Arts.