Arts in Senate Estimates 28 Feb

Arts in Senate Estimates 28 Feb

Minister advises Senator Kakoschke-Moore the department's priority is- 'highlighting, apart from the obvious cultural and social contribution to Australia society of the arts, the economic contribution, and trying to link the skill sets that so many creative artists and others have and of which there are quite a lot of spillovers now into the broader economy....

So,widening the conversation to the broader economy I think is where the department's focus is right now.'

Also raised:

Is there a the long term arts & culture strategy?

Arts interconnections with Education

VET Student Loan Scheme- Arts Consultation

Arts Economic Value- Statistical paper coming out ‘next few months’


Hansard excerptSenate Estimates: Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Issue: VET Student Loans Scheme impact on access to Arts learning

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE (Nick Xenophon party- Arts spokesperson): My questions are on an entirely different subject. They follow on from some changes made by the government to vocational education and training last year, in particular, the removal of some—not all, but some—courses in the arts, in particular, the performing arts. Was there any formal consultation between the education department and the Arts department in the development of the bill that went through last year?

Dr Heather Smith PSM, Secretary Department of Communications and the Arts: I believe there was. Our arts colleagues are not here for this session this morning, but we can certainly take that on notice. I know we were talking with the department at that time.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: I would appreciate it if you could provide some comments in relation to the nature of the consultation and the type of feedback the department provided.

Dr Smith: Certainly.

Issue: Nexus in Arts/Education

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: How does the department characterise its role in the intersection between the arts and our education sector in Australia?

Mr Eccles: I can talk about that only at a very general level. Arts is listed for, I think, 4:30 today, so the real experts on that are not here. Given I have only been in my role for about eight weeks, I can only discuss the issue at a very high level. We are acutely aware of the importance of working with the education department in relation to the role of the arts, creativity and innovation throughout the education system. We do support and work closely with a number of educational institutes that are focused on arts and creativity. For example, we have a very strong relationship with the film and television school. But I can get a little bit more detail on notice if that suits the senator.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: That would be great. Thank you. Just following on from that, has the department undertaken any research to determine whether any skills gaps will emerge in our arts sector, particularly following on from the changes that were made to vocational education and training?

Mr Richard Eccles, Deputy Secretary, Content, Arts and Strategy: Department of Communications and the ArtsI am not aware of any research, but I will take that on notice.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: If no research has been conducted I would also like to know whether the department plans to conduct that research.

Mr Eccles: Understood.

Issue: Economic Value of the Arts

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: Has any research been conducted recently into the economic contribution of the arts to Australia? Just in my home state of South Australia, I know that the Adelaide Fringe Festival a couple of years ago contributed nearly $70 million to our economy, so it is a big boost.

Dr Smith: Yes. The Bureau of Communications Research has been undertaking some work trying to establish the economic contribution the sector makes to the broader economy. We can provide you with details on that.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: Great. Thank you. Do you mean on notice, or now?

Dr Smith: Now, if you like.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: Sure. Thank you.

Ms Leonie Holloway, Chief Economist As the secretary mentioned, we have, since the arts has been brought into the department, sort of turned our attention to the role of the arts within the economy. We have been working on a background statistical paper, which we are hoping will be released in the coming months, which updates some work the Australian Bureau of Statistics has done in terms of quantifying the value of the creative and cultural industries to the economy within Australia

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: And that will be available in the next few months?

Ms Holloway: That is our expectation, yes, and it will be publicly available.

Issue Development of an Arts strategy

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: A couple of years ago there was a Senate inquiry into the impact of the 2014-15 budget cuts or budget changes to the arts. The government's response noted that the government does not believe in a top-down approach to arts policy, and they believe that the sector has an important role in the development of a comprehensive strategy for the arts. Is the department working with the sector at all to develop this strategy? Or is it purely an issue for the sector to come together on?

Mr Eccles: I think it is fair to say that we are working very closely with the sector around a whole lot of issues around the strategic placement of the arts in the broader national discussion—the link between arts and creativity, the link between creativity and innovation. We have started discussions with the sector around those matters. I think it is also fair to say that we in the Office for the Arts enjoy a very close working relationship with the sector and we will continue to work with them on these matters.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: Can you tell me whether or not the department has or is developing a long-term plan for arts and culture in Australia—the development of strategies or—

Senator Fifield: There is a long-term plan already in place in the form of the Australia Council, our national collecting institutions and a range of programs that are funded through my department, and also Creative Partnerships Australia, which is there to help business work out ways it can support the arts and benefit from supporting the arts and also works at the other end to help artists connect with business and philanthropy. So, I guess that architecture that is there really is a long-term plan, but—

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: But it is not in a concise document?

Senator Fifield: I am not averse to documents. People in various sectors are very fond of documents. But in terms of a concrete plan, it is what we have in place through that architecture at the moment. But we are always looking to see whether we can refine and improve our support for the arts. That is an ongoing process. I am not ruling out that there will be documents, of a variety of natures that focus on future paths for the arts by way of strategy.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE:Certainly it is a useful base point to draw from in terms of ensuring that we are meeting the plan and addressing any barriers that are in place to meeting the plan.

Senator Fifield: But in all seriousness, I do appreciate that there is a desire in parts of the sector to have what you might call a road map that the sector as a whole can look to, and that is something I am continuing to talk to the sector about.

Dr Smith: And perhaps I can just add to that. I think one of the most important things the department can be doing at this point in time is in relation to what you mentioned before: highlighting, apart from the obvious cultural and social contribution to Australia society of the arts, the economic contribution, and trying to link the skill sets that so many creative artists and others have and of which there are quite a lot of spillovers now into the broader economy. And I think the report by Screen Australia was very effective in highlighting that. So, widening the conversation to the broader economy I think is where the department's focus is right now.

Senator Fifield: And further to that, I think it is important, as we talk about innovation in the economy more broadly, to recognise that to be a truly innovative society, a truly innovative economy, you have to ensure that the creative industries and the arts more broadly are one of the fundamental underpinnings. So, we are very keen as a portfolio to do more work on that.

Senator KAKOSCHKE-MOORE: I agree entirely.

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