MEAA backs Labor after opposition pledges to boost local drama

ABC iView's The Katering Show.

The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance has backed the Labor Party's pledge to fully restore funding to the Australia Council and boost local drama on the ABC if it is elected on July 2.

“We are very happy that Labor has made good on its previous verbal promises to restore funding to the Australia Council by including this measure in the arts policy it will take to the federal election,” MEAA Equity director Zoe Angus said.

“Twelve months down the track we are now seeing the devastating impact of the cuts to the Australia Council with dozens of arts organisations at risk of closure, including well-known names like Red Stitch,  Force Majeure and Meanjin."

“These organisations play a crucial role in nurturing and developing local talent and the impact of these cuts will be felt by our performers, crew and other creatives for many years to come."

“We are pleased that the Catalyst funding body would be scrapped [under a Labor government] and that money redirected to the Australia Council, along with an extra $20 million a year.

“Allowing significant decisions about arts funding to be made from the office of the Arts Minister is wrong, and abolishing Catalyst would mean that arts funding would again undergo an independent process overseen by the Australia Council."

“While we welcome Labor’s commitment, we now call on the Coalition to acknowledge the folly of these cuts and also pledge to fully restoring the $73 million that has been stripped from the Australia Council.”

Angus said that Labor’s pledge of $60 million to the ABC to produce local drama would be a huge boost for Australian stories being shown locally and internationally.

“We are disappointed that no major party has yet committed to fully restoring the $287 million that has been stripped from the ABC since 2014, but Labor’s extra $60 million is a big step in the right direction. We now challenge the Coalition to match it.”