On 16 June 2015, the Senate referred the matter of the impact of the 2014 and 2015 Commonwealth Budget decisions on the arts to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee for inquiry and report by 15 September 2015. In August 2015, the Senate twice granted an extension of time for reporting initially to 14 October 2015, and then to 26 November 2015. The Senate then agreed to further extend the reporting date to 2 December 2015.
The terms of reference for the Inquiry were:
a. (a) the impact of the 2014 and 2015 Commonwealth Budget decisions on the Arts;
b. the suitability and appropriateness of the establishment of a National Programme for Excellence in the Arts, to be administered by the Ministry for the Arts, with particular reference to:
i. the effect on funding arrangements for:
A. small to medium arts organisations,
B. individual artists,
C. young and emerging artists,
D. the Australia Council,
E. private sector funding of the arts, and
F. state and territory programs of support to the arts,
ii. protection of freedom of artistic expression and prevention of political influence,
iii. access to a diversity of quality arts and cultural experiences,
iv. the funding criteria and implementation processes to be applied to the program,
v. implications of any duplication of administration and resourcing, and
vi. any related matter.
The Committee received 2719 submissions from a wide range of interested stakeholders including individuals, government agencies, arts and cultural organisations, galleries and peak representative bodies.
The Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee handed down its report ‘Impact of the 2015 and 2015 Commonwealth Budget decisions on the Arts’ on 2 December 2015. The report included 13 recommendations and a dissenting report from Government Members of the Committee, Senator the Hon Ian Macdonald and Senator Dean Smith.
The Australian Government’s response to the Report is set out below. The response addresses all 13 recommendations contained in the Report.