27 May, 2016Australian playwrights and screenwriters will put some of the country’s political leaders under the spotlight at a special national debate on arts funding on 8 June 2016 in the run-up to the Federal Election.Members of the Australian Writers’ Guild (AWG) will join professionals from across the nation’s arts, screen and culture sectors at a National Arts Debate at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne organised by ArtsPeak, a federation of national peak arts organisations.They will be asking the three major political parties tough questions on their arts and cultural policies, especially on the cuts to public funding for the arts, which Australian playwrights believe will devastate the theatre and their livelihoods.The National Arts Debate will feature Labor’s Shadow Arts Minister, Mark Dreyfus and the Greens Arts Spokesperson, Adam Bandt. Current Arts Minister Mitch Fifield is yet to confirm. Patricia Karvelas, of the ABC and Sky News, will moderate the two-hour National Arts Debate.The AWG is concerned that playwrights face a double blow from the funding cuts to the arts. Not only are grants to small-and-medium theatres being slashed, but the Australia Council has been forced to cut by 70 percent its funding of individuals such as playwrights.Patricia Cornelius of the Australian Writers’ Guild Playwrights Committee says the funding cuts will affect playwrights especially hard.“We are dependent on the health and number of theatre companies available to us,” she says. “The commissions, the developments, the engagements, productions of new and previous works will be rare to us. Our voices will be silenced. Our development will be stifled. Our livelihoods will be devastated.”For more information on the Debate and to register click HERE.