Macdonald to Quiz Australia Council on Chamber Music Festival Funding

The Australia Council has been put on notice to prepare to answer why it has ceased funding the Australian Festival of Chamber Music in Townsville on the Festival’s twenty-fifth anniversary.

Townsville-based Senator Ian Macdonald spoke yesterday in the Senate Chamber about his concerns for the funding position of the internationally-renowned Festival.

“I simply cannot believe that on the 25th anniversary of this festival the Australia Council has decided for the first time in many years not to fund it” said the Senator during Wednesday’s debate.

“The Australian Festival of Chamber Music is wonderfully successful, both in Australia and internationally.

“From very humble beginnings 24 years ago, the festival has now grown into Australia’s pre-eminent festival of chamber music. The festival attracts approximately 60 per cent of its audience from across Australia and overseas” he said.

Senator Macdonald also alluded to the “cultural divide” that is often perceived where national Arts funding is directed from the southern capitals.

“I do not want to be paranoid about this, but do I suspect that the Australia Council is more interested in events from Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra than from way up there in regional Australia and North Queensland?

“I will want (the Australia Council) to compare for me the grants they are making in the capital cities compared with the grants that they are making in parts of regional Australia” he said.

Senator Macdonald had intended to question the Australia Council on this matter at Senate estimates hearings last week however the hearings were suspended following the passing of former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. No date has been set for a resumption of the suspended hearings

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