If Federal Arts Minister Mitch Fifield has flown into town to talk about arts funding, the message he needs to hear is that Queensland is not getting its fair share.
Queensland represents 20 per cent of Australia’s population and has four Major Performing Arts (MPA) organisations – Queensland Ballet, Queensland Theatre, Queensland Symphony Orchestra and Opera Queensland.
But collectively these companies received only nine per cent of funding in 2016-17 from the Commonwealth Government’s 17-year-old MPA framework.
That’s an unfair distribution of funding, from an outdated funding framework.
What’s more, of all the Australian states, Queensland is the biggest investor in the MPA framework.
We put $12.6 million into the framework for our four MPA organisations in 2016-17, in comparison to New South Wales’ $11.7 million for their ten MPA organisations or Tasmania’s $1.51 million for their only MPA organisation.
The concentration of federally-funded arts organisations in Sydney and Melbourne has created a structural disadvantage for Queensland. It means that the Palaszczuk Government is picking up the slack.
Queensland companies punch well above their weight. For example, Queensland company Circa is not a MPA organisation, but has established itself as a world leader in physical theatre and circus. In 2017 it turned over more than $8.7 million with audiences of 117,000 from 16 countries, and employed 90 artists and arts workers.
Our companies are leading the way in innovation but unfortunately, federal arts investment into Queensland is not keeping pace.
Currently the Palaszczuk Government is doing all the heavy lifting.
We understand the power of the arts not just as a valuable way to tell our stories and connect communities, but also to develop the critical skills needed for a growing knowledge economy and to create jobs.
That’s why we are embarking on a journey of transformative infrastructure investment in the arts, through committing:
$125 million towards a new 1500-1700 seat theatre at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre;
$14 million towards the redevelopment of the Thomas Dixon Centre, the home of Queensland Ballet; and
$10 million towards a new Rockhampton Art Gallery.
We have also invested $17.5 million into other arts infrastructure such as renovations at the Judith Wright Centre for Contemporary Arts, the Centre of Contemporary Arts in Cairns, and the Bille Brown Studio at Queensland Theatre.
In addition, in 2018-19 we will support the arts and cultural sector with $42.7 million in grants funding, which includes our MPA organisations, our small to medium sector, touring, Backing Indigenous Arts initiatives, festivals, regional arts and more.
If Minister Fifield was genuinely invested in the future of Queensland’s arts and cultural sector, he would advocate for Queensland’s fair share of funding rather than settle for a 17-year-old framework that is still disadvantaging Queensland to this day.
The MPA framework was established in 2001 by the Federal Government’s Australia Council for the Arts and sets unfair ratios for allocation of arts funding to the 28 MPA organisations in Australia.
Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science and Minister for the Arts
The Honourable Leeanne Enoch