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June 27, 2022

‘We spent more last year’: Arts funding reduced

The State Government has announced bundles of new cash for the arts industry, but Arts Minister Andrea Michaels admits to an overall “reduction” in funding for the portfolio, mostly due to “once-off” payments last year.

  • Words: Angela Skujins
  • Pictures: Gluttony, by Helen Page

The net cost for providing services for the Department for Premier and Cabinet’s arts and culture policy and support portfolio for 2022-23 is forecast to be less than the 2020-21 budget – $113m this financial year compared to $128m last financial year.

Shadow Arts Minister John Gardner asked Arts Minister Andrea Michaels about the portfolio’s reduction while examining the 2022-23 State Budget in Parliament last week.

Gardner said although there was “new” money in the $111m arts grants and subsidies stream – $2m for the Adelaide Fringe and $2m for artists and organisations – there was a slump in funding.

“Although there is $4m of new money in there, it is a dip from $135m last year – the 2021-22 estimated result on page 29 – and indeed even in the budget last year,” he said.

“The Minister would be able to see $13.4m of that cut explained lower on the page, but that still leaves a difference of $10.6m.

“Can the Minister explain what other grants or subsidies have been cut from last year to this year in order to account for that $10.6m that is not accounted for lower down on the page?”

Michaels said it was largely explained within the budget.

She said the “reduction” for this financial year’s budget is due to the cost of “one-off items” from last year.

These include $7.7m for the Adelaide Festival Centre Trust for loss of revenue during redevelopment, $4m for the Arts Recovery Fund and $3m for activating Adelaide Festival Plaza.

“All right, so we spent more last year,” Gardner said.

The news comes in the same week Michaels and Premier Peter Malinauskas were spruiking their $10m live music support package and confirmed $8m in funding over four years for the Adelaide Fringe.

Adelaide Fringe CEO Heather Croall said she was “thrilled” with the funding, as it will allow the organisation to disperse grants to artists.

“It will help the Fringe bounce back to our pre-COVID levels and continue to deliver benefits to the arts sector and South Australia,” she said.

Umbrella Festival last year. This picture: Samuel Graves


The music industry sits predominantly under the Department for Innovation’s industry portfolio, which has also seen a $12m reduction in allocated funding for total expenses compared to last year.

Music SA CEO Christine Schloithe told CityMag that last year’s additional funding for musicians was “finite”.

“And [it was a] COVID-specific outcome that benefitted many artists, musicians and venues at a critical and unprecedented time,” she said.

Regarding the government’s $10m live music support package, Schloithe said the not-for-profit organisation welcomed the investment in the local live music ecosystem.

The package includes $5000-$50,000 grants for events, $5000 venue improvement grants and vouchers worth $4000 for venues to host live music.

Meanwhile, Michaels later announced she planned on implementing a portable long service leave scheme for artists in South Australia in the 2022-23 financial year.

Labor went to the election with the promise of investigating portable long service leave for the arts and creative sector.

“The Arts SA staff are consulting with industry sectors that already provide portable long service leave schemes to see what the best way of implementing that policy is,” she said.

“I am waiting for Arts SA to do that work and come back to me with a way we can progress that policy in the best way possible, and if we can do something to help the work insecurity that artists face we will be very keen to see that implemented as quickly as we can.

“A program will be implemented.”

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