Response to Senate Inquiry – Impact of Budget Decisions on the Arts

Something in the order of 2300 submissions had been made come midnight 17 July 2015. The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee website indicated only 93 had been uploaded, but it appears they were overrun by submissions their server could not keep up with all that incoming. Here’s my humble offering…

Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee

PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

17 July 2015

Dear Sir/Madam,

Re: Impact of the 2014 and 2015 Commonwealth Budget decisions on the Arts

I am an independent artist with broad expertise within the sector, from both the perspective of a practicising artist and managing artist run initiatives. I have also consulted to the Australia Council and various new media arts round-tables, conferences and forums. I also hold a Master of Arts in Animation and Interactive Media.

I am deeply concerned by impact of the 2014 and 2015 Commonwealth Budget decisions on the Arts. As a country we have grown, though not with out pain, to create an environment that both fosters and supports an increasingly diverse arts sector, or practices and outputs that are delirious in their skill and challenging in the stories they reveal.

This will come to an end should the means to encourage, stimulate, mentor and nurture all manner of artistic practice be closed to small to medium arts organisations, individual artists, young and emerging artists and the instrumentalities that are responsible for the distribution of these means.

Excellence does not just happen. The establishment of a National Programme for the Excellent in the Arts narrows the scope of what could be nourished within a broad, participatory democracy. Excellence is aligned to skill and skill is nurtured and nourished and its end results may not be appealing to all. That is why diversity in the arts, in all manner of communication, exists… to reveal the multifaceted aspects of our experience as humanity. This ought be protected within the context of free artistic expression and entirely free of political influence. We need a diverse and critical arts sector to know better who we are and how we may know and live with each other within our communities in Australia, regionally, internationally.

My work has taken me across the planet, more notably throughout Southeast Asia. I have just spent five months working on a new film in India. Many of these projects have been self-initiated drawing support from a broad pool of funding sources, each initiative strives to provide mentorship to young and emerging artists and cultural workers. More importantly one is driven, compelled and inspired by the impact of our works on individuals and communities. By this I would stress that the arts plays a diverse role within our communities. It is simply not for aesthetic reasons that we do what we do. The role the arts plays in, for example, post-traumatic healing and growth is only recently aknowledged. If we want our country to flourish why would we not want our brothers and sisters to feel good about themselves and each other? The arts is an important player in our communal relationships. Let’s grow this and ourselves in the process.

I’d like to thank the Inquiry for allowing me the time and opportunity to express my views.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Garton

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