Five other dance companies have received transitional funding for a year, but now hang by a thread, their losses merely delayed as they face an unsustainable extension of life. Many other applicants did not make it into final considerations.
That the Australia Council was forced to spread available funding so thinly demonstrates the extremely serious diminution of vital dance infrastructure in this country, evidence that more arts funding is required if dance is to remain a viable industry within the wider cultural sector.
Ausdance National notes the actions taken by the Australian Government and the Australia Council in responding to the impact of COVID-19, and appreciates the challenging circumstances in which they are operating. However, unless funding deficiencies are addressed, implications for the dance sector will be severe, threatening the vibrancy of Australia’s cultural life and posing significant threats to the wellbeing of the many Australians who benefit from the health, connectedness and community economies that dance activities generate.
It is self evident that 2021 will require more than a thinly spread funding strategy in order for the arts and cultural sectors to re-emerge as viable creative industries.
In recognition of the extreme difficulty under which the Australia Council is working, Ausdance calls on the Australian Government to significantly increase the Council’s budget as part of a larger set of arts industry stimulus measures. In the context of the hundreds of billions of dollars being rolled out to sustain the economy and ensure a transition out of the pandemic, this increase would be a small but vital investment in the arts and cultural sectors.
The absence of an arts-specific support package from the Government – called for byall peak arts organisations and supported by Ausdance – reflects a lack of acknowledgement of the importance of the arts and cultural sectors to Australian lives. The sector’s demonstrated contribution to our economy of $111.7 billion (or 6.4% of GDP) is a contribution that will dissipate with an unsustainable loss of arts infrastructure, thereby affecting tourism, community health, arts education, tertiary arts training, a reduction in cultural activities and the world-class performances that make Australian destinations great places to visit.
It is also concerning that Government ministers do not acknowledge gaps in the JobSeeker and JobKeeper packages, particularly as they relate to many casual artists and artsworkers who do not fit the criteria. The reality is that many professional artists are left without the cash flow needed to immediately transition services online and build new income sources. OurCOVID-19 impact survey is identifying mental health as a major issue in this environment.
The loss of dance infrastructure over many years is reflected now in the four-year funding outcomes, despite the increase in outputs by the sector. Given artists’ critical contribution to world-class performances, to the creative economy, to community health, well-being and cultural education – all of which help to scaffold Australia’s cultural life – recovery from the COVID-19 crisis will be severely impaired for many of our citizens.
Contact National President Paul Summers on 0417 925 292 for further comment.