Capital city councils welcome the opportunity of contributing to the development of a new national cultural policy, a policy which will support this sector as it recovers and is still being disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Local government provides 39% of the nation’s arts and cultural funding. Capital city councils employ creatives that design cities, manage cultural venues, and deliver services, programs, and funding directly to this sector which provides wellbeing, access, and inclusion benefits for all.22

According to the Bureau of Communications, Arts and Regional Research, the cultural and creative economy (including activity in the wide range of cultural and creative industries as well as cultural and creative activity performed in other industries) was worth $115.18 billion to the Australian economy in 2018-2019 – this is equivalent to 6% of GDP.

Despite considerable evidence that supports this sector’s value, the significant and lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic not only left the sector struggling to survive but laid bare the vulnerability of “gig” based contract workers and a critical lack of awareness of its tangible economic value.
The cultural and creative industries need support to better define and advance its interests, and more clearly articulate its contribution to economy and society. Australia has been without a formally defined arts and cultural policy or plan at the federal level since the launch of the National Cultural Policy – Creative Australia in 2013, which was abandoned that same year following a change of government. For the past 20 years governments have been managing arts and culture primarily through ad hoc and reactive budgetary decisions, relying on existing infrastructure to funnel funding and support.

A new national cultural policy would provide a practical mechanism for the federal government to coordinate more consistent and effective investment in arts and culture, drawing organisations, communities, and sectors together under a framework for change. A strategic vision for arts and culture across the three tiers of government would stimulate long-term sustainability for arts and culture by working toward a set target.

Our submission is available here.