Am I surprised Josh Frydenberg mentioned the arts just once in his budget speech?
From what I can gather there’s roughly 222 million dollars earmarked for the arts sector. Compare that to the governments flag ship policy of aged care, receiving over seventeen billion dollars. Doing some quick maths for every dollar going to the arts around 77 dollars goes to aged care.
Here is where the money is being spent for the 2020-21 period.
$125.6 million over two years is going to the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand fund. Referred to as RISE this money is earmarked to provide financial support for events and productions.
$50.8 million is set aside for the Temporary Interruption Fund supporting local film and television projects in securing funding for future projects and productions.
$20 million will be establishing the Supporting Cinemas’ Retention Endurance and Enhancement of Neighbourhoods program which will support independent cinemas.
$11.4 million goes into the Regional Arts Fund, Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support and Festivals Australia.
$10 million to music charity Support Act to provide further relief for artists and arts workers
$5 million over two years will fund national performing arts touring through the Playing Australia program.
Cynicism of the government is a fairly easy position to take, and it is important to acknowledge that there is funding going into the arts sector. I am not an economist and am not directly impacted by this funding. The overarching problem is the lack of Arts funding being mentioned in the media. Without broad scrutiny of policy promises it becomes increasingly more difficult to hold governments to account about these issues.
Unfortunately, funding promised in budgets is not a done deal. Specifically, the largest pledge to the RISE fund is over two years, meaning that money promised could magically disappear after the next election in the 2022 budget.
We are in an election year and this budget reflects that. Is the Morrison government aiming for the WAAPA vote?
Signs point to no.