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George Brandis Ruins Famous Works Of Art

The arts minister's bid to promote "excellence in the arts" is being met with a defiant display of excellence in photoshopping.

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A Facebook group called "The George Brandis Live Art Experience" is protesting funding cuts by photoshopping the minister for arts into beloved works of art.

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In the 2015 budget, the government stripped $110 million from the Australia Council and used the savings to set up a new funding body called the National Program For Excellence In The Arts.

This body is under direct control of the arts minister and is designed to "allow for a truly national approach to arts funding" that caters to the broader tastes of Australia's audiences.

Outraged artists are calling the move an ideological culture war. They say Brandis' new "arts slush fund" lacks the safeguards of the Australia Council's arms length, peer-reviewed funding model and will instead favour works based on the minister's own artistic preferences.

Here's George Brandis as Venus in the famous Botticelli painting, with appearances by prime minister Tony Abbott, and cabinet ministers Malcolm Turnbull and Christopher Pyne.

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Here he is as the Girl with a Pearl Earring by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer.

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And here he is looking very fit as Michelangelo's Renaissance masterpiece, David.

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BuzzFeed News spoke to the George Brandis Live Art Experience. They claim to be an art collective of professional theatremakers, visual artists, composers, musicians and dancers, "using cross-practice conceptual art to critique the government."

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"George Brandis is a form of failed art," they told BuzzFeed News.

"He is the canvas on which we paint, the floor on which we dance, the stage upon which we perform."

"We denounce George Brandis as bad art."

The collective says it welcomes any artist who is "taking action against political control and censorship."

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"Overnight, Australia has lost a central tenet of political autonomy. The Australia Council has existed in the form that it's in to create an independent art ecology. George Brandis is the last person who should be making decisions about freedom of expression. One person is controlling $100 million who clearly does not have an imagination."

The collective says grants from the Australia Council have created a generation of world class artists.

"This is because we've had the Australia Council for 40 years, and these are artists who've been trained in Australia, telling Australian stories and making Australian commentary. They've been the imaginative conscience for our society and now art is being threatened, censored and rejected by a democratically elected government. It's a fucking outrage."

On Tuesday, shadow arts minister Mark Dreyfus announced that Labor would establish a Senate inquiry into the government's decision.

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"The inquiry is needed to investigate why it is necessary to create a new arts bureaucracy under the control of Senator Brandis," he said in a statement.

Labor says the fund is politically-motivated and criticised Brandis for not consulting with the arts community before announcing his plans.

Last week, George Brandis made his first arts funding announcement since the budget, $1.28 million for Bell Shakespeare's schools education program. He says the government is "dedicated to making the arts accessible to all Australians."

The George Brandis Live Art Experience is promising to take its message to the streets, with flash mobs, spontaneous dances and live performances to come.

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