The main thing that happened with the arts in the 2016 budget is that nothing happened with the arts in the 2016 budget. The arts and culture are obviously not to be part of this coming election campaign.
“This is not a time to be splashing money around” said ScoMo, and then didn’t, except on dams and trains and submarines. So much money splashed on so many submarines.
On the face of it, that’s good. It means that the new and existing models (e.g. Catalyst, carved out from the Australia Council) are being bedded down. Whatever you think of the new model, which has moved A$15 or so million into a centrally allocated program, this is now the model. So there is value in being ignored, in being made neither a priority, nor a target.
The main benefit, as I see it, came from the corporate tax cuts, small, but a good start. A healthy arts economy ultimately comes from private spending, corporate sponsorship and philanthropy, not from government handouts.
Anyway, someone’s got to paint all those submarines. Write songs about them. Make the movies and stories and evocative dances that show us as a great, nay proud and unrivalled, submarining nation.
That was my take on what the 2016 Budget means for Australian arts and culture, for The Conversation. Read the other experts’ responses here.