When the Australia Council’s four-year funding announcementswere made earlier this year my contemporary music group, Ensemble Offspring, missed out.
The list of others who missed out (both published and unpublished) is long. It includes Gondwana Voices (Australia’s most active youth choirs) and Sydney Chamber Opera (who recently presented a stunning digital all-female opera production, Breaking Glass ).
The losers were given no reason why because the simple answer was that there was not enough money. It’s called ‘unfunded excellence’, a term that should be erased from the lexicon.
As a result of this unfunded excellence, many small to medium sector arts organisations like mine run the risk of being extinguished. For Ensemble Offspring that comes after 25 years of activity, government investment and growth.
The Federal Government has been whittling down its support for the arts in Australia for more than 10 years. The term ‘unfunded excellence’ came to the fore during the Brandis era, when the minister took $104 million from the Australia Council to form the Catalyst fund, giving the Arts Ministry direct control over public funding of arts projects. Artists fought for the money to be...