What is the National Cultural Policy?

Recently Federal Arts Minister Tony Burke revealed the new National Cultural Policy titled ‘Revive’ which intends ‘to revive the arts, entertainment and cultural landscape as central to Australia’s future.’ The policy promises to stimulate employment and training opportunities, access to fair remuneration and safe work environments, and that intellectual property rights of our creators are protected. 

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said: “This document stands as a powerful reaffirmation of the government’s commitment to our culture and the arts through which it finds its great expression.” He also added “The arts cannot be left simply to those who can afford to do it. Arts jobs are real jobs.”

These are sound intentions, but what is the National Cultural Policy? $286 million will be invested over 4 years on the key actions listed below. In July 2021 The Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute and Centre for Future Work reported that ‘Despite years of significant funding pressures and policy neglect, the arts and entertainment sector make a significant economic contribution to the Australian economy: $17 billion in value added (GDP) in 2018-19.’ One would hope that this national Labor Government investment will support the sector to thrive again. You can read about ‘Revive’ in full here.

The Business of Art

  • The Australia Council for the Arts will be known as Creative Australia, and the functions of Creative Partnerships Australia will be moved across to Creative Australia. With the aim to ‘modernise’ it will receive greater funding and newly include 4 new entities; a First Nations-led Board, include new bodies to represent music and writing as well as a ‘Centre for Arts and Entertainment Workplaces’.
  • Support digital games developers to grow their practice and business in Australia.
  • Enhancing the Resale Royalty Scheme of works to provide royalty payments to visual artists from eligible commercial international sales.

First Nations First

  • Stand-alone legislation will be introduced to protect First Nations knowledge and expression, including harm caused by fake art, merchandise and souvenirs.
  • Digitising at-risk First Nations cultural material.
  • Establishing a First Nations Languages Policy Partnership.

Access & Education

  • An Arts and Disability Associated Plan to create access and participation.
  • Pilot funding for access to art and music therapy programs.
  • Supporting specialist in-school arts education programs, with a focus on disadvantage and modernising and extending the Public and Educational Lending Right Schemes to include digital content under the schemes.
  • A long term loans program of art works from the National Gallery of Australia to regional and suburban art galleries.
  • Increasing the Regional Arts Fund.

Importantly the ABC and ArtsHub have noted what’s been left out of the policy which they cite as, to name a few, better wages for artists and an expanded recognition of art as work, pandemic or disaster relief and funding for the National Gallery of Australia and Trove at the National Library of Australia.

Overall arts workers seem to consider the National Cultural Policy as a good starting point to ‘revive’ the arts, and in time hope to see continued investment and expansion of the policy for the arts to actually thrive.