The Federal Government is slashing arts and cultural funding by winding up its COVID-19 support package far too early, say industry researchers.

With spending set to fall from $990 million in 2021-22 to $799 million in 2022-23, arts and cultural development funding will tumble from $159 million to just $20.3 million.

Meanwhile forward estimates paint a dire picture for government film and television investment, particularly for funding body Screen Australia, as well as a big reduction in funding for regional arts.

Dr Ben Eltham, a lecturer in Monash University’s School of Media, Film and Journalism, tells Limelightthere is “grinding austerity baked into the next three or four years”.

The 2022-23 federal Budget brings the final $20 million payment in the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) fund, even as Australian arts and culture has barely begun to emerge from a devastating two years of continuously enforced shutdowns alternating with several audience limitations.

RISE was part of the $250 million arts sector relief package the Federal Government announced in June 2020 that was widely criticisedfor allocating less than half for direct financial assistance to producers and arts organisations.

The RISE program itself faced criticism for severe delaysin the flow of...