News September 3, 2019

Australia Council promises $13m a year for arts and music

Australia Council promises $13m a year for arts and music
Image: australiacouncil.gov.au

The federal government’s arts funding body, the of the Arts, is committed to providing $13 million for a year for at least 200 culturally diverse applications between 2020 and 2024.

This is outlined in its Creativity Connects Us corporate strategy, issued last weekend.

The emphasis moves from its last five-year strategic plan A Culturally Ambitious Nation (2014–2019) to creating a landscape where arts and culture are inclusive and community-minded.

It reflects OzCo’s research that 98% of Australians believe arts and music define them, and First Nations cultural works should be cherished.

The Australia Council’s plan for the next five years is to expand the size of the arts audience, whether encouraging the public to accept that arts is for everybody, or supporting activities to allow it to reach its targeted 15 million people.

It outlines, “We want inspiring arts experiences to be welcoming and easily accessible, and reflective of our unique and special culture that is simultaneously ancient and contemporary.

“We want to invest in artists and cultural organisations and support them to evolve to meet new challenges, fully realise their creative potential and thrive in the new world of creative engagement.

“Everyone benefits from investment in arts and creativity, and we want the social, cultural and economic return on this investment to be well understood and recognised.”

Full details at www.australiacouncil.gov.au

What’s the deal for contemporary music?

No specific plans for genres are highlighted, except for First Nation creatives.

But reading between the lines, grants for demos, recording, mentoring, networking and touring will continue.

But there could be more nods for applications which explore opportunities for collaboration and co-development of art forms that employ new technologies including virtual, augmented and mixed realities.

Works that incorporate technology that draws newer audiences, as well as those which experiment with content, format, delivery and business models.

Ambitious applications that aim at non-traditional crowds in non-traditional venues look like getting support.

First Nation musicians will get more help through mentoring, advancement of leaders and inter-generational cultural works. Young emerging First Nation musicians with ambitions to make epic musical works will be encouraged.

Music artists and arts workers with disabilities will be helped to extend their arts practice, networks and skills.

Touring in regional areas is a priority, as is international touring but this time with greater interaction with overseas associations and companies.

There’s also a stress on what facilitates stronger relationships between film, radio and broadcast organisations and the cultural sector.

And now the bad news…

Despite the growing demand for funding (as detailed in the report) and despite the ambitions to widen the scope of music and arts audiences, there are no extra resources.

Grants are forecast to rise just 1.6% each year in the five year period, and the level of staffing remains the same.

The Australia Council’s base funding has been falling since 2014, when allowed for inflation, and it will receive $212.1 million from the government in 2019.

Just taking cultural diversity as an example, 364 projects were funded to the tune of $17.9 million in 2018-2019.

But, the number of applications was 243% over target and 179% in terms of actual funding. Which means the money put aside won’t really cater to the volume of projects.

To put that in perspective, last month Diversity Arts Australia released a report that the arts sector failed the diversity test with over half of associations and companies having no people of diverse cultural or linguistic backgrounds on their boards or executive lists.

Only 10% reached the level of artistic directors even though 39% identified themselves as first, second and third-generation migrants.

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