Arts are back on the agenda

Launched Saturday 11 May, the ALP’s ambitious cultural policy puts Arts back on the agenda. AMPAG welcomes the policy as a valuable starting point for a renewed conversation around the Arts in Australia.

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Arts are back on the agenda

Announcing the policy today in St Kilda, the Hon Tony Burke MP recognised “Arts is a whole ecology, from the majors, the small to medium companies and independent artists and if you break that ecology it hurts the whole sector.”

The Hon Bill Shorten spoke of the importance of the Arts to national identity and said; “Arts policy is not an add on, for a Labor government, if we get elected, we will put the story of our Arts at the centre of what we do as a nation... the Arts deserve attention and support.”

Australian Major Performing Arts Group (AMPAG) Chair John Irving said…”We welcome this commitment to the centrality of the Arts in our society and are hopeful that this sentiment will also inform the implementation of Labor’s Arts policy if elected- delivering to the sector ‘a rising tide that lifts all boats’.

The Arts is a complex ecology and that is why AMPAG has called for a road map to guide sector development and support the many ways the Arts can positively contribute to a healthy and prosperous nation. The ALP has committed to this approach, with a plan to renew the Creative Australia policy as a first priority and to develop a Creative Industries strategy by 2020-21.

AMPAG is pleased the policy is backed by a commitment to restore funding to the Australian Council. Strengthening the Council is an important precondition of a strong and unified Arts sector, especially given this body’s extensive mandate for the Arts in Australia.

AMPAG also welcomes the ALP’s recognition of the major performing arts (MPA) companies important role in the Australian cultural landscape, and its commitment to a strengthened MPA framework. The MPA companies support a framework that welcomes new entrants and look forward to enhanced opportunities for collaborations across the entire Arts sector. Increased clarity in defining the purpose of the framework and greater transparency will underpin the important refinements needed.

The commitment of $3 million to existing First Nations’ theatre and dance companies with the potential to grow and become major performing arts companies is highly commendable. Additional Federal Government funding to enable the formation of a new major indigenous theatre company that will also provide ongoing ‘soft infrastructure’ and capacity building is a highly positive commitment.

The ALP’s Arts policy also recognises the importance of developing our artists across artforms and across the country. It commits to restoration of funding across the eight national arts training institutions as well as providing an uplift in the regional arts fund to support artist development in regional Australia. We are hopeful that this policy is the start of the changes needed to restructure and lift funding for regional touring, engagement and audience development.

We also recognise the creative interconnections that are fostered between stage, screen and digital platforms and welcome the ALP’s commitment to increase funding to the ABC and SBS. These funds support the production of Australian content, as well as the reinstatement of the Australian Interactive Game Fund which also opens up new possibilities for experimentation and collaboration to tell our stories across emerging technologies.

We are pleased that the ALP has recognised the need to embed arts in education, health and international cultural exchange. We commit to working with government to help realise the great value that can be leveraged through close Arts sector and cross-portfolio strategic partnerships.

The detail Renewing Creative Australia Art and Cultural Policy can be foundhere

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