Shadow Minister for the Arts Mark Dreyfus labels new ministerial fund “policy on the run.”

The art of political satire is alive and well, and currently focusing its attentions on the Attorney General and Minister for the Arts George Brandis. Since the Federal Budget announcement revealed major changes to the arts funding infrastructure in Australia, with $104.8 million syphoned from the Australia Council to fund the new Arts Ministry administered National Programme for Excellence in the Arts, artists across Australia have rallied, petitioned and even danced to express their concerns over the changes.

However a collective working under the banner The George Brandis Live Art Experience, scattered across social media, have found one of the most innovative, if not light-hearted ways to protest, by photoshopping Senator Brandis into famous art works. Although less than a week old, the group has already attracted well over a thousand likes on its Facebook page.

Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus

Meanwhile the Federal Opposition yesterday called for a Senate inquiry to look into what they described as a “Coalition Arts Slush Fund.” Shadow Attorney-General and Shadow Minister for the Arts, Mark Dreyfus, released a statement demanding an inquiry “to investigate why it is necessary to create a new arts bureaucracy under the control of Senator Brandis.” Speaking of the news last week that Senator Brandis had not consulted with the arts sector before announcing the National Programme for Excellence in the Arts, Dreyfus said, “This new ministerial fund is policy on the run. We will force Senator Brandis to have the public consultation he has avoided so far.”

The statement echoed the concerns, voiced by many in the arts community in recent weeks, that the new system will be biased against independent artists and the medium to small arts sector. It concludes “Brandis’ decision to strip money from the Australia Council to create his own fund without any consultation or criteria shows contempt towards the arts community. Labor will not stand for this and we will ensure Brandis is held accountable.”

As yet no guidelines on how arts organisations will be able to apply for funds from the New Programme for Excellence in the Arts have been released by the Ministry for the Arts, although in a Senate Estimates hearing last week, a member of staff from the Attorney-General’s office said further details should be available from “the end of June or early July.”

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