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Arts Minister Mitch Fifield’s Catalyst grant scheme has become a showcase for highly publicised and strategically staggered grant announcements that have about them the whiff of pork barrelling.

Recall that Catalyst’s funds were taken from the Australia Council’s budget for the small to medium arts sector. Now Catalyst is funding a Brisbane commercial art gallery, the WA Ballet and Kaldor Arts Projects. In an announcement last week that Sydney’s Art Gallery of NSW, MCA and Carriageworks were “going national,” creating a biennale of Australian contemporary art, Carriageworks’ director Lisa Havilah is reported as saying “additional funding has been sought for the event from the federal government's Catalyst program (SMH, 21 April).

Clearly, Catalyst is not going to be an alternative funding source for the small to medium sector. Artspeak is forming a National Election Strategy Group, holding a National Arts Debate and providing updates: sign up here.

RealTime issue #132 April-May 2016 pg.

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