Australia: Arts minister violates the right to freedom of expression

The Australian arts minister George Brandis has threatened the withdrawal of commonwealth funding for the Sydney Biennale festival for “blackballing” Transfield Holdings after it severed ties with the company because of an artist protest over its contract work on an offshore detention centre, reported The Guardian.

australia_article19_oliver

The arts minister wrote to the Australia Council, which distributes arts funding on behalf of the federal government, and asked them to develop a policy to penalise arts organisations that refuse funding from corporate sponsors on “unreasonable grounds”.

By doing so the arts minister is interfering in public funding of the arts in order to make it clear to everyone that artists have to toe the government line, explained ARTICLE 19’s Oliver Spencer in an article which was published on 4 April 2014:

“By threatening to withdraw funds because of what the recipient says, Brandis as a politician is directly threatening the Arts Council’s independence. This is a clear violation of the right to freedom of expression,” he stated.

Over the last few years, ARTICLE 19’s artistic expression project has seen several governments interfere in public funding of the arts in order to make it clear to everyone that artists have to toe the government line.

“So the next time we hear of a government insisting that an arts funder stops funding because a politician or a public official doesn’t like what is being expressed, we all need to be there to point it out.”


Read the article here:

Article 19 – 4 April 2014:
Governments and their counselling of the arts
Article by Oliver Spencer


Related:

» The Guardian – 13 March 2014:
George Brandis threatens Sydney Biennale over Transfield ‘blackballing’
Arts minister warns government could pull festival funding after organisers cut ties with sponsor over links to detention centres. Article by Bridie Jabour

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