This article first appeared on the National Association for the Visual Arts website

Earlier in April 2021, Minister for the Arts Paul Fletcher gave a speech at Sydney Institute where he noted that the value and importance of the arts sector to the Australian identity, economy and people cannot be underestimated. Expressing his commitment and support for the industry, he reminded listeners of the arts recovery package and past contributions by the Coalition to the arts.

Paul FletcherMinister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, Paul Fletcher

Conveniently, Fletcher failed to acknowledge the steady decline in available arts funding relative to population growth over the last decade (expenditure in the cultural area fell 18.9% per capita between 2008 and 2018). Nor did the Minister mention the Coalition’s decision to facilitate the disappearance of the federal arts department by merging it into the new Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.

Never mind his Government’s choice to ignore the united calls from the arts sector for urgent, comprehensive stimulus during the pandemic. Responding to Fletcher’s claim the “level of funding committed to the arts by the Morrison Government in...