Government Arts Funding Update

This month the Meeting of Cultural Ministers released its report on total arts and cultural government funding 2017-18 with capital expenditure driving growth. Separately, the Australia Council for the Arts has invited 162 small-to-medium-sized arts companies to make full applications for its four-year funding grant program with over 250 other organisations now consider their options.

Government Arts Funding Update


Each financial year, all levels of government report on investment in the arts and heritage in Australia. The report is published annually by the Meeting of Cultural Ministers Statistics

Working Group and is prepared by a consultant from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Analysis by funding category across Federal and State investment shows the highest level of funding was directed to broadcasting services and cultural institutions.

The latest report estimates that in 2017–18, total cultural expenditure of all levels of government was $6,863 million — an increase of 13%, or $764.5 million, over 2016­–17.

 Australian Government funding for Arts activities rose 8% (or $153.4 million) to $2,063.6 million, largely due to capital expenditure. The overall increase in funding in the performing arts and venues was also largely due to capital expenditure, which rose in all levels of government, funded mostly by the state and territory governments:

The Report can be found here:

4-Year Fudning Outlook

Recurrent investment is critical to supporting arts making. The output of the Major Performing Arts organisations and the significant employment they generate, combined with that of small and medium-sized performing arts organisations and independent and solo artists, make a significant contribution to diversity of creative practice, artist development and artistic partnerships, and the nation’s artistic vibrancy and arts engagement.

The Australia Council for the Arts has now invited 162 small-to-medium-sized arts companies to make full applications for four-year funding grants  — representing about 39 per cent of the 412 organisations that submitted expressions of interest. Worryingly, with 61% of applications unsuccessful, gaps in the ecology are inevitable. This follows the Australia Council for the Arts advice to the Senate in April, which stated:

‘Projects assessed as meritorious of support, but unfunded in 2017 were valued at $11.9 million and in 2018 at $19 million. 895 applications were assessed as meritorious of support, but unfunded. This represented 12 per cent of total applications.’

The need for investment far outstrips the Council’s capacity to invest, and without a new injection of government investment, the figures for unfunded excellence are likely to rise or worse —  fade away.

What is yet to be fully calculated is the public value forgone. AMPAG members and its Board are concerned by the growing sense of fragility in the arts ecology and are actively considering the future advocacy needs of the sector.


Federal Govt Arts Policy, Major Matters, Reports