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Labor Unveils Game-changing Arts Policy Ahead Of Election

16 May 2022 | 6:00 pm | Dan Cribb

“There is a lot of work to do in this space to rebuild the damage done by a decade of Liberal Government."

Labor has revealed its cultural policy, promising that an Albanese Government would “bring new drive, direction and vision to Australia’s arts sector” if successful in the upcoming election.

Today’s announcement from Shadow Minister For The Arts Tony Burke has been described as “a landmark cultural policy” by Labor, who has reiterated that the “arts sector is currently in an extreme state of flux as it seeks to recover from the devastating impact of the pandemic”.

A statement released also commends “a decade of Liberal National neglect, contempt and cuts”.

Labor’s new cultural policy will:

  • Revive cooperation between federal, state and local governments to ensure we have a national approach to arts and culture.
  • Reaffirm the need for arms-length funding. The Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison governments have used arts funding as a personal plaything. Labor is clear – the selection of funding for performance and creation of works should not be determined by the personal taste of a minister.
  • Examine a national insurance scheme for live events. The sector has been calling for a national insurance scheme since November 2020 but their pleas have been ignored by the Morrison Government. Commercial insurance which covers COVID-related risk is no longer available for promoters and organisers, putting a major dent in confidence.
  • Promote Australian creators on streaming platforms. The Liberals have gone out of their way to reduce the amount of Australian content on our screens. They have also been far too slow to move on screen content obligations for streamers. We will work with all stakeholders to determine ways Australian content can be boosted for both Australian music and screen content on streaming platforms. 
  • Protect performers and audiences from ticket scalpers. For too long, companies like Viagogo have been allowed to get away with fleecing audiences and depriving performers of vital revenue. Labor would work with State and Territory governments to secure a national approach to this problem.
  • Put First Nations art and culture at the centre of our approach to the sector. There can be no cultural policy without a specific focus on First Nations art and culture. 
  • Restoring ‘arts’ as part of a named government department. When the Coalition removed the word ‘arts’ from any government department at the end of 2020, it signalled what everyone in the sector already knew: arts and culture was the lowest of their priorities. It’s time for that to end. Labor will restore ‘arts’ as part of a named government department.

Labor’s commitment to a new cultural policy adds to the following funding announcements:

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  • National Aboriginal Art Gallery, Alice Springs NT - $80 million. 
  • Frankston Regional Arts Trail, VIC - $2 million.
  • Macleay Island Arts Centre, QLD - $1.5 million.
  • Fremantle Creative Hub, WA - $1.2 million.
  • Nairm Marr Djambana Building Upgrade, Frankston VIC - $850,000.
  • Campsie Cultural Hub, NSW - $6 million.
  • National Aboriginal Islander Skills Development Association (NAISDA), Central Coast, NSW - $5 million.
  • Southern Highlands Regional Art Gallery (Ngununggula), NSW - $450,000.
  • PIP Theatre, Brisbane Arts Theatre & PIP Theatre, QLD - $15,000.
  • Reverse Scott Morrison’s cuts to the ABC and provide stable five-year funding terms to the ABC - $83.7 million.
  • Feasibility study to expand the reach of Double J on radio - $500,000.

It’s also been confirmed that Labor will roll the functions of and funding for Creative Partnerships Australia into the Australia Council, which is expected to “bring private sector expertise back into the Australia Council, make it stronger, and re-affirm its role as the premier arts funding body in Australia”.

Labor has acknowledged that “speed is of the essence” and that State and local governments would be consulted as quickly as possible in order to help the country’s arts sector not only recover from the pandemic but begin to thrive once more.

“When the pandemic hit it became clear the Morrison Government didn’t even consider artists to be workers, or their employers to be real businesses,” Burke said.

“Labor advocated relentlessly for support for the sector, including for artists and entertainers to be included in income support schemes such as JobKeeper. The arts, entertainment and cultural sector is important to who we are as Australians and plays a vital role in the economy.

“There is a lot of work to do in this space to rebuild the damage done by a decade of Liberal Government. A new cultural policy is the foundation for a better future for Australian artists.”

The Liberal Party were approached to provide details of their agenda for the arts but declined to respond at the time of publication. 

The election will take place this Saturday, May 21.