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Australia Just Scored a New $286-Million National Cultural Policy to Boost the Local Arts Industry

The Federal Government's new plan includes a National Aboriginal Art Gallery in Alice Springs, an Aboriginal Cultural Centre in Perth and four new arts bodies.
By Sarah Ward
January 30, 2023
By Sarah Ward
January 30, 2023

If you've ever been to a gig featuring an Australian band, streamed their tracks, read a book by a local author, hit your nearest theatre for a play or musical, wandered through an exhibition, or enjoyed an Aussie movie or TV show — and, of course, you've done some and probably all of the above — then you've interacted with Australia's arts industry. These aren't the only ways that the nation's creatives have an impact, and this country of ours wouldn't be the place it is without them. So, the Federal Government has unveiled a hefty package of support: a new $286-million National Cultural Policy.

Announced on Monday, January 30 by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Minister for the Arts Tony Burke, the fresh policy has been badged "a new chapter in Australia's cultural story". The aim: to help boost the $17-billion industry that's generally been underfunded in the past, and has suffered through a particularly tough period during the pandemic — an industry that employs around 400,000 Aussies.

The National Cultural Policy outlines the government's plan for Australia's arts, entertainment and cultural sector over the next five years — and it's full of big inclusions, from upping support, creating new institutions and helping ensure that Aussie stories reach our screens in today's streaming-heavy times.

"Our new cultural policy Revive will provide the support Australian artists need to thrive and grow," said the Prime Minister.

"I am excited by the potential it will unleash, and to see our extraordinary and diverse Australian stories continue to be told with originality, wit, creativity and flair. It builds on the proud legacies of earlier Labor governments that recognised the importance of art and culture to Australia's identity, social unity and economic prosperity."

Alice Springs gallery, Tourism NT

Among the big-ticket items, a new National Aboriginal Art Gallery in Alice Springs and an Aboriginal Cultural Centre in Perth are worth getting excited about — with the former receiving $80 million in funding and the latter $50 million. The policy puts a significant and needed focus on First Nations art, including legislation to stop fakes and their impact. A creative workforce strategy specifically for Indigenous Australians will be developed as well, and $11 million will go towards establishing a First Nations Languages Policy Partnership between First Nations representatives and Aussie governments.

Also on the list: creating four new bodies in the arts space, including a First Nations-led body to give Indigenous Australians autonomy over decisions and investments. It'll be part of a new organisation called Creative Australia — aka the Australia Council for the Arts, but renamed and upgraded, and given an extra $199-million in funding over four years.

Creative Australia will also span Music Australia, which'l be dedicated to contemporary music industry and receive $69.4 million; Writers Australia, for writers and illustrators creating new works, nabbing $19.3 million in funding; and a new $8.1-million Centre for Arts and Entertainment Workplaces, which'll be devoted to making sure creative workers get fair wages, work in safe spaces and are protected from harassment and discrimination.

Genesis Owusu and members of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra by Alex Turley.

And, in important news for Australia's screen industry, a long-sought-after Aussie content quota for streaming platforms is also part of the National Cultural Policy, starting no later than July 1, 2024.

"During that time online streaming platforms have taken off, but our Australian content obligations haven't. I know we can do better," said Burke on social media, noting that there's currently no requirements for the array of streaming services available Down Under to invest in Aussie movies and shows.


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A post shared by Tony Burke (@tony_burke_au)

Among a hefty list of inclusions, the National Cultural Policy also covers an extra $11.8 million in funds for the National Gallery of Australia to tour its collection around the country; a $12.9-million digital lending rights scheme, which'll earn money for authors, illustrators and editors when their works are borrowed from libraries; splashing $8.5 million in more cash into the Regional Arts Fund; and continuing Festivals Australia.

For more information about Australia's new National Cultural Policy, head to the Australian Government's website.

Top image: Splendour in the Grass, Savannah van der Niet.

Published on January 30, 2023 by Sarah Ward
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