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Australian Arts Community Protests $224 Million Cut to Federal Arts Budget

The Australian arts community has mobilized support for a nationwide campaign that is demanding a restructuring of the federal arts budget, Claire Voon of Hyperallergic reports. Over the past three years, the current Abbott-Turnbull administration has cut more than $224 million in arts funding. This year, the Australia Council for the Arts could only approve 50 percent of applications for funding from small and medium organizations, as artforum.com previously reported. The day the council announced the funding allocations was dubbed “Black Friday” locally.

On June 27, a demonstration was held outside of prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s office in Sydney, a petition on change.org obtained over 13,000 signatures, and artists hung a banner on Melbourne’s Nicholas Building—which houses numerous studios—that reads: “‘Straya—the Arts End of the World.” Protesters criticizing the government’s decision to cut funding to the Australian Council for the Arts and demanding financial stability in the arts sector are gathering across the state and will continue to call for change in the days leading up to the July 2 federal election.

Tamara Winikoff, the director of the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA), which is helping to lead the Art Changes Lives campaign, said she has never seen the arts community come together like they are now. “This government lacks any cultural vision, understanding, or evidence base.” She added, “This has led to the ad hoc actions that have created the most terrible chaos across the Australian arts sector, and unless remedied, will seriously erode the cultural expression of this generation.”

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