Australian musicians and artists will be among those affected by the many cuts in the Federal Government’s budget, revealed last Tuesday night, owing to slashing and burning of funding for Australian arts bodies  Screen Australia and the Australia Council.

The Abbott administration plans to cut a total of $87.1 million from the federal arts funding bodies over the next four years, which will mean “fewer and smaller” grants offered to music-makers, artists, and bands Australia Council CEO Tony Grybowski tells ABC News.

The Council’s cuts will start with losing more than $10 million from its $222 million annual budget this year, then another $6.4 million over the next three years, tallying to cuts of nearly $30 million.

“It’s a lot and we will be looking at all our programs,” says Mr Grybowski of the budgeting squeeze. That most likely includes pulling back on the millions spent gifting Australian musicians with touring and recording opportunities. Some big name Australian acts have also gained much-needed international exposure from government arts funding.

Last April, the Australia Council funded 11 indie record labels as part of the Recording Initiative grant (as previously reported). Chapter Music, Future Classic, Head Records, Hope Street Recordings, Mistletone Enterprises, Rice is Nice, Split Records, Stop Start, SugarRush, Two Bright Lakes and the Wantok Music Foundation all shared in more than $400,000 in funding to support around 50 new releases. 

Some big name Australian acts have also gained much-needed international exposure and benefited greatly from government arts funding.

In March, the likes of Vance Joy, Mia Dyson, Kirin J Callinan, Cub Sport, Sampology, Dustin Tebbutt, sleepmakeswaves, Duo Deng, and Scott & Charlene’s Wedding were among the 37 successful recipients who enjoyed a total of $1.2 million in International Pathways grants, helping fund touring nationally and internationally. 

Additionally The Drones, PVT, My Disco, Mike Nock, Emma Louise, and Superstar all benefited from grants towards recording new albums the same month. 

Likewise Courtney Barnett, Ben Salter, Ainslie Wills, and The Bamboos’ Lance Ferguson who were each awarded a $15,000 grant to assist in the recording of new albums in March as part of a partnership between the Australia Council and royalties agency PPCA. “We look forward to hearing the recordings that emerge as a result of this funding and wish all of the recipients the very best over the course of their recording careers,” congratulated PPCA (and ARIA) CEO Dan Rosen at the time.

While grants and small arts organisations will be affected by the nearly $30 million cut to Australia Council, Mr Grybowski tells ABC News he was “relieved” that funding for 28 major performing arts, dance, and theatre companies would be maintained. 

Thankfully, the Australian Council will not be merged with film funding body Screen Australia – itself suffering a $25.1 million cut – as was recommended by the Commission Of Audit – the same that urged to abolish funding for community radio, leading to the CBAA (Community Broadcasting Association of Australia) relaunching their ‘Commit To Community Radio’ campaign last week ahead of the Federal Budget reveal. 

Community radio’s funding was spared from cuts, with the Federal Government instead taking the axe to public broadcasters ABC and SBS, which are facing cuts of $43.5 million, as The Music Network reports. A “fantastic outcome” for the community radio sector’s more than 360 stations and 5.2 million listeners, according to CBAA President Adrian Basso, but not so great for ABC with Managing Director Mark Scott calling the cuts “confusing and disappointing” in an on-air interview with News Breakfast this week.

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