The Australian arts world is reacting with fury to the news that the arts have been demoted in Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s restructuring of the public service announced yesterday. The Arts, already an addendum to the Department of Communications and the Arts, will be merged along with the rest of the department into a new one with the unwieldy title of the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.

Scott Morrison Prime Minister Scott Morrison

The changes came as a surprise to department head Mike Mrdak. “I was told of the government’s decision to abolish the department late yesterday afternoon,” he said in a memo yesterday. “We were not permitted any opportunity to provide advice on the machinery of government changes, nor were our views ever sought on any proposal to abolish the department or to changes to our structure and operations.”

In an industry beleaguered by cuts and uncertainty, the symbolic deprioritisation – with the Prime Minister, who said the changes will “drive greater collaboration on important policy challenges”, flagging more unspecified changes still to come – has sparked a backlash, with professionals from across the arts decrying the move on social...