A meeting of Australia’s arts and cultural ministers in Adelaide on Friday has seen a major overhaul of the way the Major Performing Arts sector is funded through the Australia Council for the Arts, and contemporary circus company Circa – whose Artistic Director Yaron Lifschitz once described the system as a “protectorate of the privileged” – welcomed into the fold of Major Performing Arts companies.

Circa En Masse Circa’s  En Masse. Photo © David Kelly

The new Framework, billed as the National Performing Arts Partnership, follows a consultation process in 2018 which included 8,026 survey responses, 370 formal submissions and 15 forums. It will see Partnership Organisations (formerly MPA Companies) funded for eight year terms, with a review at four years. The new eight year contracts will begin in 2021.

Previous criticisms of the MPA Framework, such as those by Lifschitz, took aim at a system which saw the MPA Companies “ inured from change” and protected during funding cuts that ultimately fell on the small to medium sector. “I challenge the major companies to demand their funding pool is opened to anyone who can compete on merit,” Lifschitz said in 2017.

While the meeting didn’t...