New Queensland Premier and Arts Minister Annastacia Palaszczck promises to “return arts back to its rightful place.”

The Queensland Government, under new Premier and Arts Minister Annastacia Palaszczck has committed over $172 million to the arts in its 2015-16 budget. In a statement issued yesterday after the Budget announcement, Palaszczck said, “My government has vowed to return arts back to its rightful place and the future of arts in Queensland is now looking very positive.”

The investment restores reductions to arts subsidy in Queensland introduced by the previous Liberal Government led by former Premier Campbell Newman, which significantly impacted the state’s small to medium scaled organisations. In addition to restoring previously axed programmes, including the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards, Palaszczck also pledged funding to set up additional arts initiatives over the next four years, and increased funding to existing programmes. Of the renewed committment to arts and culture, Palaszczck said, “Today’s Budget reflects our commitment to ensure Queensland is best placed to be a leader in the arts on a local, national and international level.”

$5 million a year will be added to the Queensland arts grant fund, which will continue to support the Visual Arts and Crafts Strategy and Indigenous Arts Programme, as well as bolstering curatorial budgets for the Queensland Art Gallery, including $1.7 earmarked for exhibitions celebrating the gallery’s tenth anniversary. The government will also make a substantial state contribution to the running costs of its Arts Portfolio and statutory bodies, including Queensland Museum, Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, QPAC, Screen Queensland and QTC.

Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane

Brisbane’s Cultural Precinct will also see significant investment over the next four years, with a pledge of $28 million for upgrades and essential repairs. “It’s crucial that the Cultural Precinct, with some of its buildings and critical infrastructure now more than 30 years old, and recognised last month for its cultural heritage significance, can meet modern safety, security and accessibility standards,” Palaszczck said.

Perhaps most notable in the Queensland Budget are the provisions made for establishing new funding initiatives for the arts. $5.1 million will be used over the next four years to support the creation of the Queensland Art Showcase. “This will focus on creating employment and training opportunities for Queensland based artists and arts workers while supporting collaborations to provide quality arts and cultural experiences,” Palaszczck said.

This initiative will be made up of three distinct programmes. Arts Ignite will support the development and presentation of new performing arts productions. Arts Illuminate will provide funds to attract world-class artists to the state, in a similar vein to the Queensland Superstar Fund. Arts Impact will support state-wide productions, with a focus on delivering quality arts to regional Queensland.

The Palaszczck Government’s comprehensive arts funding strategy also acknowledges the significant economic contribution the arts makes in Queensland, with arts a culture enterprises attracting dollars from interstate. “Queensland Art Gallery’s top 10 exhibitions since opening have contributed more than $100 million to the Queensland economy, and we want to ensure it continues to attract exclusive exhibitions,” Palaszczuk said. “Queensland now has a government that recognises the importance of an accessible and dynamic arts sector in generating economic and social returns for Queenslanders.”

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