Morrison Government Abandons QLD Youth: Backbone faces closure without Federal Arts funds

08 February 2020

One of Queensland’s only youth arts organisations, Backbone, has had its funding slashed by the Federal Liberal Government, despite its rising success.

Backbone is a much-loved youth arts organisation based on the Southside in East Brisbane.

For 30 years Backbone has helped young people find purpose, develop skills and contribute to our nation’s culture.

80 per cent of the young people that go through Backbone’s doors move into employment.

Despite this success, the Liberal National Government has slashed all federal funding to Backbone, which now faces closure.

Backbone has relied upon federal arts funding, receiving $100,000 each year. But their recent application was rejected.

Each year Queenslanders miss out on their fair share of federal arts funding.

Despite making up approximately 20 per cent of the nation’s population and contributing about 18 per cent of the country’s individual taxes, Queenslanders only receive around 13 per cent of the Australia Council arts funding, and even less when of the Communication and Arts Grants (2.82 per cent in 2018).

Member for Griffith Terri Butler MP is calling on the Morrison Government to step up, and cancel these cuts and fund this important community service.

“Queenslanders miss out all the time under the Morrison Government, as the government savagely cuts away at the cultural and social fabric of our communities,” Ms Butler said.

“The Liberals have rarely seen arts funding they didn’t want to cut. The department responsible for arts policy and funding has been officially abolished,” Ms Butler said. 

Shadow Minister for the Arts Tony Burke said: “small and medium-sized arts organisations like Backbone have suffered terribly under this government’s slash and burn approach to the arts. Backbone plays an important role in the local community and has provided a great service to local kids. Organisations like this are key to creating and developing the artists who bring Australian stories to life. The government should reverse this decision.”

Backbone’s Artistic Director and CEO, Katherine Quigley said “at a time when communities across Australia are crying out for places to belong and connect, the organisations providing such resources are being choked into oblivion by the Federal Government.”

Ms Quigley said that Backbone is one such organisation.

“We are one of the few remaining youth arts organisations of what was once a thriving sector in Queensland that delivers vital employment, capacity building and training to young people and creates safe spaces for those who are experiencing difficult situations,” she said.

Our programs are designed with young people and their communities in mind, we always look for the best possible outcomes for our participants and as a result 80 per cent of our participants go on to employment or further study.”

“Backbone is a vital stepping stone and has been for many artists and cultural leaders now working across Australia."

"What we do is preventative mental health, it is creating opportunities for kids to get busy, to be creative and to find likeminded peers to create extraordinary experiences for their communities.”

“In the six years I have worked at Backbone, I have seen a rapid increase in the number of young people who report debilitating mental health, but through participation in our programs that connect them to accepting and non-judgemental communities, we literally turn their life around.”

“Having a place to call home and feeling connection to a greater purpose and community literally saves lives and creates not just jobs, but lasting and successful careers," Ms Quigley said.