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After the Catalyst arts funding mess, many questions remain

Jo Caust writes in The Conversation (21.3.17) about how the arts sector lobbied hard against the Catalyst funding model, introduced by former Arts Minister, George Brandis, and labelled by the ALP ‘a ministerial slush fund’. But, the author asks, will the money returned to the Australia Council go to those who need it?

‘The federal government quietly announced last Saturday that it would effectively axe the Catalyst fund set up by former arts minister, George Brandis, with money drawn from the Australia Council’s budget.

‘The fund had been widely condemned by the arts industry. Brandis established the fund, initially called the National Program for Excellence in the Arts, in May 2015 with A$104 million from the Australia Council. It was later renamed Catalyst, which the ALP branded a “ministerial slush fund”.

‘The arts sector lobbied long and hard against this decision. In many ways it was a remarkable campaign, as artists as a group are disenfranchised and poor. Standing up to the government is very hard when there is the threat of losing any remaining funding. Australian politicians from all parties are also not generally that interested in the arts, but the arts sector made them take notice.

‘Still, how much of a victory is this?’

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