In 2013-2014 the ABC screened around 80 hours a week of original arts programming on its main channel each year. By 2022-23 that had shrunk by 75% to 21 hours. We can see the results: fewer dedicated arts programs, almost no arts reporting on news and current affairs and no sustained commitment to bring the arts to the Australian public.

When the federal government passed the Creative Australia Act last year, there was widespread relief that the arts would receive a funding boost after years of declining support. But less than a month later, the ABC went in the opposite direction, sacking its two most senior dedicated arts specialists. The screen arts team moved to a new Arts, Music and Events department, while the remaining two arts journalist positions moved into the digital and innovation team.

The ABC assured us that there’d be no impact on its arts coverage but a year later we can see the results – and they’re grim

ABC Friends president, Cassandra Parkinson, said

With no dedicated national arts reporter at the ABC, we shouldn’t have been surprised when the ABC was slow to report Archie Moore’s magnificent win at the Venice Biennale. Moore won the prestigious Golden Lion, a first for Australia, but the ABC wasn’t ready to report this major achievement because it doesn’t have a specialist arts team – or even an arts reporter.

Virginia Trioli’s new program, Creative Types has helped fill a gaping hole in the ABC’s arts programming and it’s given us some insights into the creative process of six Australians. But it’s also a reminder of what we’re missing. Six individual programs can’t compensate for the lack of regular coverage of arts and cultural issues.

Last year’s redundancies were among 120 jobs that were lost because the ABC’s five year funding did not restore almost $1 billion in funding cuts between 2013 and 2022. And worse, the government’s formula for calculating indexation does not cover the full cost of inflation – so we could see even more cuts to ABC jobs and programs in this five year period.
In straitened times, the ABC has been forced to make tough choices. The biggest loss has been in the production of first release original content as Michael Ward found in a recent report.

Kim Williams, the new ABC Chair, has made his support for more arts programming clear and we are confident he will push the ABC to offer more intelligent, nuanced discussion.

But without adequate funding the choices are limited. That’s why we’re calling on the federal government to fund more original content on the ABC.

It’s a campaign we intend to push right through until the next federal election.

Tell the government: fund more original content on the ABC.

Sign the petition