Resourcing of our National Collecting Institutions
AICCM members outside Canberra may not know about the ongoing budget cuts being meted out to our national cultural institutions—the National Gallery of Australia, National Portrait Gallery, Australian National Maritime Museum , National Museum of Australia, National Library of Australia, National Film and Sound Archive and National Archive of Australia.
Since 1987 the Government have been requiring all commonwealth agencies to undergo a small budget cut or ‘efficiency dividend’ each year. These have varied year-to-year from 1% up to 2.5%. Further to this, in some years, and for some institutions, additional cuts were made on top of the dividend.
In mid 2016 it was announced that a further 3% would be cut from on the budgets cultural agencies within the Communications and Arts portfolio. This will amount to a $36.8 million loss over 4 years.
Critics of the efficiency dividend approach have described it as a blunt instrument, a false economy, and lazy budgeting.
Applying such cuts to our national collecting institutions is beginning to have a profound effect of staffing and programs. These are small institutions with little fat and the combined effect of these regular cuts is really beginning to bite. Jobs continue to be lost and programs are being reduced or cut altogether.
These cultural institutions hold a large proportion of Australia’s cultural and artistic heritage and the cuts are both endangering its future and reducing its availability to Australia as a whole.
A key role of these institutions is the preservation of the material in their care. The budget cuts are reducing the effectiveness of the programs in place to ensure this preservation. We are now in real danger of losing these collections through neglect—a result of losses of critical professional positions whose job it is to preserve the material.
The cuts are also reducing the availability of collections to average Australians. Touring exhibition programs—a key way for Australians outside Canberra to get to see their national collections—are being reduced. Also, a key program of the NLA, TROVE, is in danger of being lost. TROVE is a highly regarded and highly successful research tool used in both Australia and internationally by scholars, historians and family history researchers. Its loss would be a tragedy and would reflect badly on Australia and on its respect for its historical and cultural resources.
AICCM members are encouraged to raise their voices against these ongoing cuts.
You can do this by signing the petition created by the CPSU at:
Or writing to the Minister for the Arts the Hon Mitch Fifield at: