Linking the arts to other portfolios will strengthen outcomes in innovation, tourism, cultural diplomacy, education and health, and contribute significantly to the resilience of regional communities.
The arts inspire creative engagement and deliver social benefits across the country and beyond, and it starts with ensuring a confident, connected and innovative arts ecology.
In 2016, the MPAs leveraged $2.19 for every government dollar invested in them. They employed over 10,000 people, delivered over 6000 performances, reached over 4 million people directly and over 17 million via broadcast. They also work alongside a creatively vibrant but fragile, independent SME sector and support their call for a review on investment in this area.
The arts sector welcomed the government’s redirection of funds from the Catalyst program back to the Australia Council for the Arts, but there has been little uplift, given that so much of the fund was forward committed. It was unquestionably the right decision for the long term, however Government funding for the arts is retreating in real terms and more needs to be done.
Specifically, AMPAG calls for the arts to be incorporated into the national digital economic strategy and the innovation strategies in education and health; for an ongoing commitment to strengthen the MPA framework, and for an end to the erosion of the real value of arts funding caused by inflation and Australia Council efficiency dividends.
Budget night is a moment where government sets out its vision and priorities – its ideas and values, so Tuesday night is an opportunity to announce new investment in the arts, and AMPAG, LPA, TNA and other performing arts peak organisation have all called for the creation of a seed fund to support new works of scale and innovation; an uplift in investment in thePlaying Australia fund to increase regional access and opportunity; greater investment in Australia’s cultural diplomacy activities to grow our soft power abroad, and further stimulating philanthropy through the introduction of a revenue neutral tax mechanism modelled on the UK Gift Aid tax measure.
AMPAG is working with peer organisations to identify shared priorities, core to this is recognising the significance of First Nations artists and arts organisations, and supporting the ongoing work, with government investment, to carry forward their rich culture. There is also agreement on the value of increasing the sectors capacity to nurture a diversity of new artists, creatives and their stories, fostering digital innovation and building better research and sector data. A recognised need is to assess the gaps and fragilities in the arts ecology and for the innovation agenda to recognise and integrate the arts including adopting a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, maths) over a STEM approach to education.
This complex connected sector relies on the investment of government, philanthropic support, audience engagement and a capacity within arts organisations to collaborate, innovate and take risks, to deliver a core creative output for the country. It not only helps us understand and celebrate who we are– it also tells the world. There is shared recognition that scarcity of arts investment and lack of policy connectedness across government challenges the sector and limits the public good the arts can achieve
A strategic increase in government investment in the arts sector is an investment in Australian innovation, ingenuity and creativity.