Merrigong Theatre Company artistic director Simon Hinton has hit out at the Prime Minister Scott Morrison's decision to drop the arts as a stand alone federal department.
"People in the industry are stunned today at the idea that we would live in a country that does not have a federal department with the word arts in it," Mr Hinton said.
"Compared to other developed nations around the world that would be a first and I think that every Australian should be really concerned in that idea."
The arts will now be part of the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.
"i think it is a pretty disturbing signal for a couple of reasons," he said.
"The arts industry is a $110 billion industry nationally so just in terms of its impact on the economy, ignoring it in that way is strange.
"More important is that there is just countless studies that show the positive impact the arts has on mental health and wellbeing and social cohesion.
"I just think it is a really shocking day for Australia to realise that we live at a time when the arts is given such little regard by our government.
I just think it is a really shocking day for Australia to realise that we live at a time when the arts is given such little regard by our government.Merrigong Theatre Company artistic director Simon Hinton
"There is nothing in history that shows a successful society that doesn't have a flourishing arts and cultural life.
"If the Australian government feels they can build roads to success without thinking about social cohesion, the wellbeing and happiness of people in the nation through something like the arts, it's ridiculous."
Caitlin Marshall, the co-owner of Illawarra social enterprise Rumpus, was also upset with the PM's shake-up in cutting the number of departments from 18 to 14.
"I think Australia needs a dedicated arts department," Ms Marshall said.
"The strength of a society can always be reflected against the strength of arts and culture. Not to mention that it is a $111 billion industry that is a significant employer in our country.
"Dissolving the entire department of arts at a federal level is an unprecedented, shocking decision that sends a clear message about what our federal government cares about.
This move takes us many steps back where other countries are leaping forward.Caitlin Marshall, the co-owner of Illawarra social enterprise Rumpus
"This move takes us many steps back where other countries are leaping forward."