Australia’s principal arts funding body has revised its grants programmes in response to major budget cuts.

The Australia Council for the Arts have published an outline of revisions to its grants programmes in response to the major funding cuts announced in the 2015-16 Federal Budget. In addition to almost $105 million dollars, redirected from the Australian Council to fund the new Ministry for the Arts administered National Programme for Excellence in the Arts, the budget also imposed mandatory “efficiency savings” of $7 million over the same period. In the immediate aftermath of the budget cuts the Australia Council announced the cancellation of applications to its June funding round and the suspension of its new six-year funding programme, as well as three other programmes aimed at supporting emerging individuals and arts organisations: the ArtStart, Creative Communities Partnerships and the Artists in Residence initiatives.

“The Board and Executive have carefully considered how we can provide the most effective support to Australian artists and arts organisations within the framework of the Council’s legislative functions and Strategic Plan goals,” Australia Council CEO Tony Grybowski said in a statement issued this morning. “The revised funding model has been developed in response to the budget measures and with the intention of providing support for the arts which is complementary to the National Programme for Excellence in the Arts.”

$12 million will be invested during the 2015-16 financial year across programmes supporting individuals, groups and small to medium sized organisations. There is however no mention of any grants to support new arts business, as had previously existed as the ArtStart grants. The Australia Council have warned that this period should be considered by applicants as a “transition year, with a number of existing contractual obligations still in place,” which may mean a significantly smaller number of successful applicantions. The revised grants activity will see a loss of one of the three core grants application rounds over the next financial year, with the December 2015 application round cancelled. Although their was now specific projections on the number of successful applicants the Australia Council expects to fund during the 2015-16 grant period, the sum of $12 million is less than half the annual shortfall of $23 million that the Australia Council face due to its slashed funding. 

Australia Council CEO Tony Grybowski

Perhaps most significantly the six-year funding programme, one of the Australia Councils most substantial new offerings, which was developed through extensive consultation with the Australian arts community, will be replaced with a four-year funding model. Funding for successful applicants will now commence from January 2017.

A new Corporate Plan from the Australian Council, which will more carefully outline the national and international development strategy and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander support programmes, is due to be published by August 31.

Despite the reductions in its services, Tony Grybowski remains confident about the Australia Council’s position as the main funding body in the country. “The Council remains uniquely positioned to be a strong advocate for Australian arts, drawing on the rich arts expertise of its staff and a deep knowledge base developed over almost half a century of supporting the arts in this country,” he said.

Full details of the changes to the Australia Council’s grants can be found on its website