Australia Council and Screen Australia receive slight funding boost in federal budget

The Australia Council and Screen Australia receive no substantial increase for 2020

Government spending for two of Australia’s major arts funding bodies remains stable while many other federal arts agencies will experience cuts, according to the latest budget papers.

Announced last night (October 6) in the Morrison Government’s 2020-21 Federal Budget, the Australia Council for the Arts and Screen Australia both received a slight boost in government spending.

The Australia Council will be allocated $214.9million in funding, an increase from $212.1million in 2019-20 due to indexation. Including the $700,000 in interest, returned grant funds and other external income, the Australia Council is expected to receive $215.6million.

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As for Screen Australia, it will receive $13.5million in appropriations, up from $11.3million last year, alongside $75.8million in external revenue. All up, the agency is expected to receive $89.4million.

$1.1million of the 2020-21 allocation to Screen Australia will go toward mitigating the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its operations.

Across the board, however, six out of the 13 arts agencies nested within the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development, Transport and Communications had their funding cut. These agencies include the ABC (home to triple j), SBS and, most significantly, the National Gallery of Australia.

The budget appropriations for the arts exclude the previously announced relief packages for the sector in light of the pandemic. These include the $400million package to incentivise overseas companies to film productions in Australia, and a $250million package partially made up of grants and loans for the sector.

In response to the budget, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance said the figures were “inadequate and poorly targeted” considering the sector effectively shut down due to the pandemic.

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“The $250million announced earlier this year – most of which was loans or insurance assistance – will do little to address the sector’s structural challenges,” chief executive Paul Murphy said.

“Arts and entertainment workers, already shaken by widespread ineligibility for JobKeeper payments, should be aghast that they have again been bypassed by a big-spending budget that provides no roadmap for the sector’s restoration.

“The package of measures for the screen industry announced last week and included in tonight’s Budget represent a missed opportunity to help the sector rebuild and contribute to the economic recovery. MEAA acknowledges the additional funding for Screen Australia, but notes that this simply restores what was cut from the organisation’s budget from 2013-14.”

On the whole, funding for the Australia Council has also declined since 2013.

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