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Byron Shire
December 1, 2021

Locals artists hit back at the government’s plan to abolish department

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Northern rivers’ leaders in the arts and culture industry are calling on locals to form a coordinated action plan in response to the government’s decision to abolish a federal Department for the Arts.

Last Thursday 5 December, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that the Department of Communications and the Arts will be rolled into a new entity as of next February – the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.

NORPA associate artist Kirk Page with artistic director Julian Louis. Photo Kate Holmes.

Julian Louis, the artistic director of NORPA, said that while he was not surprised by the government’s decision to abolish a department that focuses on the arts, it was still a blow to the industry.

‘This government has not shown a tremendous amount of support and vision for arts and culture for Australia,’ said Mr Louis.

‘We are just really fed up with the government’s attitude towards the arts and culture as being a side hobby. It is not a side hobby, it is central to life.’

The arts and culture scene plays an integral role in making our northern rivers what it is, combining diversity and respect to build empathy and unite people.

‘Because of the arts and culture scene, we are actually bringing people and population growth to regional areas because there is a lifestyle here, there is actually culture,’ said Mr Louis.

‘Arts and culture also represents what has been here for a very long time, such as our indigenous stories – art is working most importantly now at telling the stories that have existed here for a long time.

‘We need to hear them now and that is very important.’

A local response

NORPA is holding a meeting next Monday 16 December to strategise a response to the government’s decision and develop their own localised show of strength and unity.

The goal is to remind local, state and federal governments about the importance of the arts for Australian society and its economy.

‘All sides of government need to hear what we think and get a sense of what we feel,’ said Mr Louis.

‘This isn’t about funding, this is about the representation of what life is about.

‘Without music, without painting, without story, without literature, without all of these aspects, what is life about?’

Details of the event

Where: NORPA, Lismore City hall, upstairs bar.

When: Monday 16th December

Time: 4.30pm – 6.30pm (come when you can!)

The bar will be open, the aircon will be on!

NORPA are encouraging anyone who is available to please join them and make some co ordinated noise together.

A nation-wide Change.org petition calling for the arts department to be reinstated has had over 21,000 signatures.

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