Australian Government Unveils National Cultural Policy, Starts Clock on Streaming Quotas
Australia’s contemporary music space scores the ultimate pat on the back with a thank-you from the nation’s leaders and the promise of new support systems and levers for funding, plus a timeline for streaming content quotas, all of which is laid-out in the long-awaited national cultural policy.
The document, dubbed Revive, was presented Monday morning (Jan. 30) by prime minister Anthony Albanese, the goal of which is to “puts the arts back where they’re meant to be – at the heart of our national life.”
Revive is a five-year plan, structured around five interconnected pillars, First Nations First; A Place For Every Story; Centrality of the Artist; Strong Institutions and Reaching the Audience.
Since sweeping into power at the national election last May, Albanese and arts minister Tony Burke have repeatedly lauded the music community, one that had been crippled, punished even, by the heath crisis and from decisions made by the previous administration.
Today, I'll announce that there will be a national arts and disability plan to help remove barriers for people who work in our cultural and creative sector and identify as having disability. #WatchLive here: https://t.co/KNoSAsXpLj pic.twitter.com/nml2LRKa3f— Tony Burke (@Tony_Burke) January 29, 2023
With the newly-unveiled policy comes the establishment of Creative Australia which, Albanese told guests gathered at the Esplanade Hotel for today’s launch, will serve as a “reimagined and properly-funded Australia Council.”
Within Creative Australia, the new Music Australia, an organisation that will support the Australian music industry, and which will launch proper this year.
And inside of Music Australia, a 50% increase in support for Sounds Australia, a prolific goal-scorer for Australia’s artists facing the outside world.
In addition, a new federal body, the Centre for Arts Workplaces, will be created to address bullying, sexual harassment and mistreatment in the arts industry, and has already been warmly welcomed by the music industry.
Last year, with the new federal government’s commitment to create a national cultural policy, 18 music industry bodies came together and articulated a vision for the contemporary music industry to “move from a music nation to a global music powerhouse that can fully realise the cultural, economic and social benefits of a vibrant, healthy and sustainable music industry accessible to all Australians.”
As part of that vision was a call for the creation of a national music development function – a “Music Australia”.
With today’s policy reveal, that has become a reality.
“Today is a bright moment for that sector but it’s also an overdue one,” Albanese says.
“You have endured a decade in which opportunity wasn’t so much missed as thrown away. Capped by the years of the pandemic.”
Following a decade of “calculated neglect,” the PM comments, the next half-decade is mapped out for the music and arts scenes.
“Arts jobs are real jobs,” explains Albanese.
“This is about our soul, this is about our identity. It is so important because it’s about who we are and being able to express ourselves.”
A separate body will support the literature sector from 2025, Writers Australia, and a poet laureate will be tapped for Australia.
Also, a State of Culture report will be generated every three years, and, in keeping with the Whitlam legacy, its government body will forever be known as the Australia Council.
It is “literally through the arts that we build our identity as a nation and a people,” Albanese continues, a voyage of discovery that brings us together and generates billions for the economy.
With those new mechanisms for support, an assurance that Canberra will be “properly funding the ABC and SBS” and that “the Brandis cuts will be returned in full,” Burke said from the podium in the Espy’s Gershwin Room.
Burke, like Albanese, is a music fan and a gig-goer. Both were spotted in the audience at Bluesfest 2022.
On Monday, the arts minister acknowledged that, despite appearances, musicians are under the pump, with pressure applied from every angle.
He addressed this by pointing to a recent ARIA Albums Chart, one that featured just two Aussie albums, by Spacey Jane and INXS.
“Every other band is music that, yep, is popular but isn’t our soundtrack. We want to make sure that the soundtrack to life in Australia has Australian music and Australian stories out there for every single beat.”
To ensure that soundtrack is created and heard, the Labor government is keen to push Double J in the regions, and quotas will be introduced for streaming platforms.
“For video streaming, the timeline is locked in,” Burke explains.
“The consultation work by (minister for communications) Michelle Rowland and myself begins in earnest now. In the second half of this year, legislation will be introduced to the parliament and on the first of July next year, Australian content obligations will apply to the streaming companies.”
The launch function included live performances and taped messages, including a call-out by Deena Lynch (aka Jaguar Jonze), a panelist for the “centrality of the artist” pillar.
Soon after, Support Act applauded the government’s ambitious policy, and welcomed the announcement that Canberra will provide $1 million each year to support its the music industry charity’s crisis relief, mental health and wellbeing, and First Nations programs.
“The launch of the Revive National Cultural Policy is a huge moment for everyone working in music and the arts in Australia, and we greatly appreciate the recognition provided by Prime Minister Albanese, Minister Burke and the Australian Government in relation to the work of Support Act,” says its CEO, Clive Miller.
“Having this increased level of financial security will greatly assist our efforts to support music workers in need, and to continue to support a more mentally healthy music industry.”
As the music industry and its creators digest the policy, Burke plants his flag for all to see.
Artists are “essential workers,” though often undervalued, he insists.
“You touch our hearts and you are a $17 billion contributor to our economy,” Burke says. “You create art and you create exports. You make works and you provide work. You are entertaining, you are essential, you are required.”
Read the report in full here.
Meet ‘REVIVE’.— Tony Burke (@Tony_Burke) January 30, 2023
This will be Australia’s Cultural Policy for the next five years. pic.twitter.com/3iWdIXUEht
TMN will join Adrian Collette AM (CEO, Australia Council) and Dr Stephen Arnott (Deputy Secretary, Creative Economy and the Arts) in conversation on Thursday 9 February at 2.15pm (AEDT) to discuss the implications of the National Cultural Policy for the music industry, including the development of Music Australia. Click here to register.