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News February 25, 2022

Australia’s support for culture & arts ranked 23 out of 34 countries [report]

Australia’s support for culture & arts ranked 23 out of 34 countries [report]

Australia is lagging behind OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries in cultural funding, placing #23 out of 34 countries.

In OECD countries, the average expenditure is 1.23% of total gross domestic product (GDP).

Australia’s figure is only 0.95%, says the latest A New Approach report.

The bad news is that the spend on arts and music continues to decline.

A New Approach states that cultural and creative activity contributed about $111 billion to the national economy (6.4% of GDP) in 2016–17, and employed more than 800,000 people (8.1% of the total workforce).

Its authors Jodie Trembath and Kate Fielding stress how the sector’s potential for growth to 2030 and beyond is huge, because it is resistant to automation and is a jobs-rich area of the economy.

“Australia’s creative and cultural industries are key to Australia’s continued economic growth and global competitiveness,” they write.

“Some of Australia’s key strengths can be further enhanced and capitalised upon through strategic investment in our creative and cultural industries.”

These sectors include the performing arts, broadcasting and digital media, and music composition and publishing.

Citing figures from the 2019–20 financial year, expenditure on arts and culture across three levels of government hit a record $7.26 billion.

But the rise was only 0.6%, just slightly faster than inflation.

Additionally, Trembath and Fielding note: “Cultural spending has not kept up with population growth, with a 6.9% decrease in per capita expenditure on arts and culture in the period between 2007–08 and 2019–20.

“Cultural expenditure from the three levels of Government combined was $282 per person in the 2019–20 period; in the 2007–08 period, it was $303 per person (adjusted for inflation).”

The sector accessed over $4 billion of COVID-19 support in the last four months of the period.

98.8% came from the Federal Government; only half the states and territories could report on their COVID-specific cultural spending.

The highest level of spending went to museums, libraries, archives and heritage at 42% in 2019-20 — and with the proportion rising.

31% went to film, radio and television and 27% to arts. Both their proportions also decreased.

Celtic Illusion

In a December 2021 report called Giving Attitude from Creative Partnerships Australia, arts associations said 37% of their revenue was from box office and sales with Government grants (33%) and private sector support (23%) playing an important part of the funding mix.

They projected that in 2025, 40% of revenue would be earned income, 30% from Government sources, and 26% the private sector.

Among seven recommendations by A New Approach, was the implementation of the National Cultural Plan suggested by the 2021 Parliamentary Inquiry into Creative and Cultural Industries and Institutions.

This would facilitate more effective collaboration between Federal, State and Territory and Local Governments and cross-portfolio strategic initiatives.

It would mean clearer policy direction and coordination, with the aim of increasing funding in the next 10 years.

There should be a Productivity Commission inquiry into cultural, social and economic benefits from arts funding, and actively work at funding associations to expand their digital footprint, the report said.

Read the report here.


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