Multicultural Arts Victoria (MAV) has successfully secured funding from the Australia Council from 2017-2020. After 30 plus years of one off project funding federally, MAV is now in receipt of core support that will allow the organisation to achieve significant cultural, social and economic outcomes over a sustained period. This boost will allow MAV to spend more time working closely with diverse communities, building productive partnerships and improving the capacity of artists and communities to contribute to the arts ecology and cultural life of our community.
Within this context and in the spirit of the Australia Council Act, MAV acknowledges the important role of the Council as the expert arts agency ‘quarantined from the tides of government and policy’ . In particular, MAV acknowledges the functions of fostering excellence through a range of diverse activities, supporting Australian arts practice that reflects the diversity of Australia; upholding and promoting freedom of expression in the arts; and promoting cultural democracy, access and community participation in the arts.
MAV is grateful to have received this support at such a critical time for the organisation and the nation. As Australia’s population continues to grow and diversify, cultural awareness is fundamental to our continued survival as a successful multicultural society that values creativity, innovation, cultural engagement and artistic expression above homogeneity, defensiveness, fear and isolation.
With the recent announcement of the allocation of four-year funding, many of our fellow small-medium companies of internationally-recognised calibre and astonishing ingenuity may have to consider ceasing operations. Unlike the nation’s major arts organisations, private sector support has proved to be hard terrain for these small entities and an unlikely alternative for sustainability.
Cultural activity in Australia contributes over $50 billion to the national economy per year . Yet, the total Federal budget allocation that supports the arts remains comparatively paltry. For 2016/17, per capita, the Commonwealth budget for defence and border protection is 85 times that spent on arts and cultural development. The proven capacity of the arts and cultural sector to apply grant allocations as leverage in a range of important domains: cultural diplomacy and understanding, education, social cohesion, health and well-being as well as the growth of the creative industries, is surely the area in which we need to increase our investment.
I hope MAV’s story of survival over 30 years of small ad-hoc funding may at least demonstrate that although the political climate is not conducive to grass roots support for the arts, it is not impossible to remain afloat.
Australia Council Review 2012 (P9) – http://creativeaustralia.arts.gov.au/assets/australia-council-review-report-survey-outcomes-20130419.pdf
Arts Nation: An Overview of Australian Arts 2015 (P4) – http://www.australiacouncil.gov.au/workspace/uploads/files/arts-nation-final-27-feb-54f5f492882da.pdf
Image: The Barberettes and Luminous Lunas with the audience at Be My Baby, Mapping Melbourne 2015