Government unveils $250 million for ‘creative economy’


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

The Morrison government has announced a $250 million package for the entertainment, arts and screen sectors, which have been particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis.

The grants and loans will be rolled out over the next 12 months.

Activity collapsed in these sectors with events quickly cancelled when the pandemic began and gatherings were prohibited. Many people have not been able to access JobKeeper. Getting work started again will be complicated by ongoing social distancing requirements that will make for smaller audiences.

Scott Morrison is anxious to stress the package isn’t just aimed at helping the public faces.

“This package is as much about supporting the tradies who build stage sets or computer specialists who create the latest special effects, as it is about supporting actors and performers in major productions,” he said.

Morrison will seek approval from the national cabinet to give the entertainment industry greater certainty about the timetable for enterprises to be able to re-activate their businesses.

The government says the “creative economy” is worth $112 billion and employs more than 600,000 people.

The measures include:

  • $75 million for seed investment to reactivate productions and tours. These competitive grants will provide capital to help production and event businesses to stage new festivals, concerts, tours and events, “including through innovative operating and digital delivery models”. Grants will be between $75,000 and $2 million.

  • $90 million for concessional “show starter” loans. They will assist businesses to fund new productions and events. The loans will be delivered through banks, backed by a 100% Commonwealth guarantee.

  • $50 million to “kick start” local screen production. It will be administered by Screen Australia and support local film and television producers to secure finance to re-start filming. Filming of new productions has largely stopped as insurers are not providing coverage for COVID-19.

  • $35 million direct financial assistance for Commonwealth-funded arts and culture organisations facing threats to their viability due to COVID-19. These may be in theatre, dance, circus, music and other areas. The Government will partner with the Australian Council to deliver this funding.

Morrison said the commercial arts and entertainment sector was one of the first sectors hit by the pandemic and would be one of the last to come out of hibernation.

“We’re delivering the capital these businesses need so they can start working again and support the hundreds of thousands of Australians who make their living in the creative economy,” Morrison said.

“These measures will support a broad range of jobs from performers, artists and roadies, to front of house staff and many who work behind the scenes, while assisting related parts of the broader economy, such as tourism and hospitality.”

He said many in the sector would find a new way to operate while the current social distancing measures remained.

A ministerial taskforce will be set up to partner with the government and the Australia Council to implement the plan for the creative economy.

The government said the package was on top of $100 million a month going into the arts sector through JobKeeper and cashflow support over April and May.The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Staff cuts will hurt the National Gallery of Australia, but it’s not spending less on art. It’s just spending it differently



Thennicke/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

Joanna Mendelssohn, University of Melbourne

On September 10 1965, Sir Robert Menzies commissioned the National Art Gallery Committee of Inquiry to consider the establishment of a national gallery for Australia.

The resulting Lindsay Report, published in 1966, is an ambitious document, describing an art gallery to serve the nation through the quality and range of its collections and exhibitions.

It emphasised the need to have an all encompassing collection of Australian art. The report recognised, in the second half of the 20th century, it was not possible to acquire a significant collection from European art history and advised a focus on modern art, including from Indigenous Australian artists, south and east Asia, and the Pacific Islands.

James Mollison became the gallery’s first director and began collecting work in 1971, construction began in 1973, and the National Gallery of Australia finally opened in 1982. The Lindsay Report was most recently reviewed in 2017, and is still the guiding document for the gallery’s foundation and continuing collection policies.

Menzies understood a culture that supported the arts and the humanities was essential to Australia’s development. Although his aesthetic taste was conservative, often described as reactionary, he greatly valued the arts.

For many years, his successors showed equal enthusiasm for seeing the National Art Gallery grow into international prominence.

Now, with subsequent efficiency dividends, the gallery is facing a budgetary shortfall and will lose 10% of its staff. The gallery has also recently reduced the number of new acquisitions, leading some to assume a connection to the loss of funding. This is not the case.

A $6 billion collection

In the late 1970s, after the prices paid for American and European art became a political issue, the Fraser government placed restrictions on the price the gallery could pay for international art. Any major purchases would now require permission from parliament.




Read more:
Blue poles 45 years on: asset or overvalued drip painting?


As the gallery’s acquisition budget was not otherwise constrained, the gallery redirected its purchases to create an encyclopaedic collection of Australian art. Over the years, the collection has matured into a balance between Australian, American, European, Asian and Pacific art, still keeping the bias towards art of the 20th and 21st centuries as proposed by the Lindsay report

The collection now comprises almost 160,000 works of art valued at A$6 billion – a remarkable achievement for a collection that began only fifty years ago.

Over the last decade, the gallery has added an average of 2,134 items to its collection each year, including 863 new purchases.

In the early years, under James Mollison’s directorship, there was a need to build the collection from a very small base of works that had found their way into the hands of the old Commonwealth Art Advisory Board.




Read more:
James Mollison: the public art teacher who brought the Blue Poles to Australia


Collections policy is not governed by numbers of works but by the nature of what is available, and how it relates to other works already in the collection. Once the collection was established, acquisitions could be focused on areas of particular need. Ron Radford expanded the Pacific collection; current director Nick Mitzevich is focused on contemporary art.

The gallery’s significant budget cuts will not impact the acquisitions budget. Gallery director Nick Mitzevich tells The Conversation the $16 million annual spend on buying art will be maintained, and cannot be appropriated for other purposes.

With such a collections base to work from, he says the gallery will focus on the quality, rather than quantity, of works which can be purchased from the same budget: collecting major works, or, as Mitzevich describes, “absolute excellence”.

But while the acquisitions budget is being maintained, other gallery departments are facing serious budget cuts.

With the exception of the Australian War Memorial, which will receive a controversial $500 million expansion, Australia’s national cultural organisations have been hit exceptionally hard by a succession of conservative governments.




Read more:
Federal budget 2014: arts and culture experts react


The gallery’s operations budget must comply with the Australian Public Service’s efficiency dividend. This year, operating revenue is reduced by $1.5 million. To counteract this reduction, the gallery will cut 10% of its total staff, beginning with voluntary redundancies.

This will inevitably mean a loss of senior staff, some of those with the greatest expertise.

Shifting worlds

It has been a difficult year for the gallery. Due to smoke from the bushfires on January 5 and 6, the gallery had to close for the safety of its collection, including the major summer blockbuster Picasso and Matisse.

It was the first time the National Gallery of Australia has ever closed for more than one day.

Then, COVID-19 struck. The gallery shut its doors on March 23, not re-opening until June 2. Visitor numbers remain small. Yesterday, only 250 came through the doors. This time last year they were in the thousands.

Mtizevich has yet to calculate the full cost of these dual disasters to the gallery’s revenue. He told The Conversation the act of keeping to budget while keeping faith with the National Gallery’s objectives is “not an easy job, a tightrope”.

He is adamant the collections policy will remain unchanged.The Conversation

Joanna Mendelssohn, Principal Fellow (Hon), Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne. Editor in Chief, Design and Art of Australia Online, University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Coronavirus Update: Australia


General

Australia

Coronavirus: what the latest stimulus measures mean for Australian artists and arts organisations



AAP Image/James Morgan

Jo Caust, University of Melbourne

Galleries, museums, libraries, theatres, cinemas and art centres have closed. All film production has stopped.

Theatre companies, dance companies, opera companies, orchestras, bands, festivals, pub gigs – every kind of cultural activity you can think of has stopped or been cancelled.

We know we are living in an extraordinary time, but the pace of the change has been shocking. Less than a fortnight ago, performers were looking forward to participating in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Now that has been cancelled, too.

At least 255,000 events have been cancelled across the country with an estimated income loss of A$280 million at the time of publishing.

Side jobs many artists depend on to subsidise their artwork have also disappeared overnight, particularly in hospitality and events.




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Scalable without limit: how the government plans to get coronavirus support into our hands quickly


Last week, even Opera Australia’s orchestra was stood down. Opera Australia is the best-funded performing arts company in the country, receiving over A$26 million a year in government funding.

(Following action by the orchestra’s union, the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance, Opera Australia released a statement saying it’s working to ensure ongoing employment.)

Federal Arts Minister Paul Fletcher has convened two meetings to address the issue. One is with representatives of the arts sector and one with state and territory cultural ministers.

State support

Four state governments (Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria) have acknowledged the crisis in their sector on arts funding body or arts minister websites and asked grantees to contact them for advice if the activity they were planning cannot go ahead.

Some are offering stimulus packages in addition to those being offered by the federal government.

Queensland

Arts Queensland has offered an A$8 million package, including:

  • organisational funding from 2017-2020 expanded until December 2021

  • rent waived for tenants of government-owned arts venues.

Victoria

The Victorian government mentions arts and entertainment as one of the “hardest hit sectors” targeted by its A$500 million business support package.

Artists and arts workers will also be eligible for the A$500 million Working for Victoria Fund.

Federal support

Organisations receiving funding from the Australia Council or the Office for the Arts will:

  • no longer have to deliver on audience KPI requirements

  • have payments brought forward

  • have reporting requirements delayed or removed

  • be able to extend project timelines

  • be able to use money provided for specific outcomes (such as performances or mentoring programs) to pay wages, rent and utilities.

Australia Council CEO Adrian Collette says:

We are also rapidly reframing how the Australia Council’s programs can support the cultural and creative sectors in these unprecedented times. We will share the outcomes of this work as soon as this work is finalised.

While not specifically mentioned in the federal government’s latest stimulus package, arts organisations are eligible for:

  • cash payments of between A$20,000 and A$100,000 to keep staff employed, with the Australian Tax Office to deliver these payments as a credit on activity statements from late April

  • the Coronavirus SME (small and medium enterprise) Guarantee Scheme, supporting small and medium businesses to access working capital to get them through the impact of the coronavirus.


The Conversation, CC BY

The JobSeeker allowance will now be available) for sole traders, the self-employed and casuals – two-thirds of the cultural workforce – so artists and arts workers will be able to access A$1,100 a fortnight through Centrelink for six months.

Individuals in financial stress will be able access up to A$10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20 and a further A$10,000 in 2020-21.

Where to from here?

Arts workers by their nature are creative and many are trying to adapt to the new reality by producing online music, offering classes online, and finding ways to connect with a society now confined to their homes.

The irony is, to mentally and emotionally get through the next few weeks or months, many people in the general community will rely on the arts.

We will be listening to music, reading books, watching movies, visiting online exhibitions at galleries.




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But the producers of the work – the artists, musicians and writers, plus all the technical people who support their work – are now without any income.

The mental and emotional health of our arts and cultural community is under tremendous pressure and their economic needs are urgent. We all want to rediscover a healthy, creative and culturally exciting society at the end of this dark time. But we need our artists and arts workers to be around to make this possible.The Conversation

Jo Caust, Associate Professor and Principal Fellow (Hon), School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

AUSTRALIA: THE NORTH MARINE REGION


Peter Garrett, Australia’s Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, today released a report on the biodiversity, ecosystems and social and economic uses of the oceans of northern Australia. The report entitled ‘The North Marine Bioregional Profile,’ brings together and explores the available knowledge of the Arafura and eastern Timor Seas, from the Northern Territory/Western Australia border to Torres Strait, including the Gulf of Carpentaria.

The report is expected to assist the government to better understand and protect our marine environment, conserve biodiversity and determine the priorities in our marine conservation efforts. It will also assist industry to better plan and manage their activities in the region.

A Marine Bioregional Plan for the region covered in the report is expected to be handed down in 2010. In total there will be five plans covering Australia’s marine regions.

View The North Marine Bioregional Profile at:
http://www.environment.gov.au/coasts/mbp/north/index.html

AUSTRALIAN PRO GAY “MARRIAGE” PRIEST DENIES JESUS IS GOD


Controversial Australian priest Fr. Peter Dresser, of Coonamble in the Diocese of Bathurst, has published a booklet where he insists that Jesus was not God, and did not think he was God, and also claims that the Blessed Virgin Mary had as many as six children, Joseph was the father of Jesus, and the bodily Resurrection is not to be taken literally, reports Thaddeus M. Baklinski, LifeSiteNews.com.

In his booklet titled “God is Big. Real Big!” Fr. Dresser says, “This whole matter regarding Jesus being God … not only does violence to my own intelligence, but must be a sticking point for millions of people trying to make some kind of sense of the Christian religion … No human being can ever be God, and Jesus was a human being. It is as simple as that.”

Fr. Dresser’s restatement of the old Arian heresy that denies the divinity of Christ has elicited a comment from Fr. Anthony Robbie, who has degrees in Arts and Law from Sydney University and in Theology from the Catholic Institute of Sydney as well as a Licentiate in Ecclesiastical History from the Gregorian University in Rome.

Fr. Robbie told The Australian that Fr. Dresser’s claims defied all scriptural evidence.

“What a breathtaking know-all, to claim he knows the mind of Christ contrary to scripture and tradition. His words rob Christianity entirely of its meaning and purpose,” Father Robbie said.

“The Council of Nicaea settled the question that Christ was God in 325, so he is 1700 years out of date. The rest is a regurgitation of every discredited 19th-century liberal Protestant German cliche in the book.”

Canon lawyer Dr. Edward Peters, JD, JCD, offered his thoughts on Fr. Dresser and the dissident church in Australia in his blog.

“The more modernistic the liberal clerical cohort in Australia tries to become, the older are the heresies that they promote. Lately, one Fr Peter Dresser is promoting his own brand of Arianism, a heresy that basically denied the divinity of Christ, and which was solemnly rejected by the Council of Nicaea (325). “No human being can ever be God,” writes Fr. Dresser in a booklet distributed to the faithful, “and Jesus was a human being. It is as simple as that.”

“Okay, here’s my version of simple: “No Catholic priest may deny the divinity of Christ, and Dresser is a Catholic priest. It’s as simple as that.” If Fr. Dresser really denies the divinity of Christ (among several other things!), declare his formal excommunication and expel him from the clerical state. Do it quickly, do it cleanly, and do it without rancor. But do it,” write Fr. Peters.

Report from the Christian Telegraph