Dr John Gardiner-Garden
The 2013–14 Budget furthers commitments made by the Government in its Creative Australia national cultural policy launched in March 2012. The development of this policy began in 2009 with the setting up of a steering committee, and continued in the following years with the issuing of a discussion paper, commencement of consultations and receipt of hundreds of submissions. Concurrent with this process was the commissioning of a review, chaired by Harold Mitchell, of government support for philanthropy; and a review, led by Gabrielle Trainor and Angus James, of the Australia Council for the Arts. The Government’s policy was launched on 13 March 2013 and included the Government’s response to the philanthropy and Australia Council reviews.
The legislative changes recommended in the Australia Council review were set in motion on 20 March 2013 with the introduction of the Australia Council Bill 2013 and the Australia Council (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2013 and on 9 May the Senate inquiry into these Bills reported, recommending only minor changes.
The Creative Australia measures add up to over $200 million of new expenditure. Most of these measures fall within the Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport portfolio:
- $75.3 million over four years from 2013‑14 to the Australia Council, with $15.0 million per annum for arts organisations to address the demand for high quality creative content, $1.25 million per annum to establish a $2.5 million funding pool for major performing arts organisations to access on a competitive basis, subject to matched funding from State and Territory Governments, $1.0 million per annum to help the Council develop formal programs of professional development for arts sector, and $1.0 million per annum for the Council to develop a data collection system and produce an annual publication on the arts sector
- $20.8 million over four years in additional funding to six elite arts training organisations — the Australian Ballet School, the Australian Youth Orchestra, the Flying Fruit Fly Circus, the National Aboriginal Islander Skills Development Association Dance College, the National Institute of Circus Arts and the National Institute of Dramatic Arts
- $20.0 million over three years from 2012‑13 to Screen Australia to establish and administer an Australian Interactive Games Fund to support the development of the interactive video gaming industry
- $20.0 million in 2014–15 for location incentives (beside Location tax offset) to help attract international film and television productions. Given the high Australian dollar and the incentives offered by other countries, the film industry had been seeking an increase in the Location tax offset from 16.5 per cent to 30 per cent, but in its national cultural policy the Government favoured, for the time being, offering incentives only on a case-by-case basis
- $11.3 million over four years ($5.7 million new funding, $5.6 million from existing Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs’ (FaHCSIA) resources) for additional funding to continue the ‘Closing the Gap’ component of the Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support program which provides operational funding for Indigenous art centres and will support a range of new training and governance initiatives
- $10.0 million over four years to Screen Australia to support the Australian screen production industry across a range of digital platforms, including television
- $9.7 million over four years to the Australia Council to continue the ArtStart program which provides start-up financial assistance to recent art graduates
- $9.3 million over four years to the Australia Council to provide additional base funding to six state based Major Performing Arts companies—the Bangarra Dance Theatre, Belvoir—Company B, Black Swan State Theatre Company, Malthouse Theatre, Circus Oz and the West Australian Ballet
- $8.6 million over two years to Creative Partnerships Australia (formed in late 2012 from the merger of Australia Business Arts Foundation and Australia Council's Artsupport Australia program in response to the Mitchell review) to provide additional funding to support a matched funding initiative ($7.1 million over two years), a crowd sourcing initiative ($1.0 million over two years), a micro loans scheme for the arts sector ($0.5 million over two years) and for the implementation of some new donation-related programs
- $14.0 million over four years ($7.4 million new, $6.6 million from existing FaHCSIA resources) as additional funding to expand the Indigenous Languages Support program (recommended in the Our Land, Our Languages report) and to enable applications for funding for Torres Strait Island projects and
- $3.4 million over four years from 2013‑14 to establish the ArtsReady program to support skills development in secondary schools and the arts industry
Other Creative Australia measures were:
- $5.4 million over five years in the Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Portfolio for community radio (see the ‘Broadcasting’ brief elsewhere in this Budget Review) and
- $8.0 million over two years in the Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Portfolio to provide financial assistance to young people up to 25 years of age to put toward the cost of representing their community in training, cultural, artistic, academic or community based activities and events, with 23 individual grants and four group grants awarded each year in each federal electorate.
The Budget also provided $21.6 million in 2016–17 (in addition to the Location tax offsets) to attract production of the feature film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo on the expectation that the measure would ‘provide a boost to the film production industry in Australia, creating an estimated 2,000 jobs in the screen production sector…[and] create further jobs and economic activity by engaging more than 1,000 suppliers that provide services such as transport, catering and hospitality’.  There has previously been some public debate about the use of existing film-support mechanisms for major overseas productions and the ‘out-of-channel’ funding of Melba Records. However the allocation in the 2012–13 Budget of $12.8 million as a location incentive (over and above the Location tax offset) for The Wolverine did not create much public debate, so this allocation, along with the Creative Australia $20.0 million allocation for incentives in 2014–15, may also attract little debate.
. The budget figures in this brief have been taken from the following document unless otherwise sourced: Australian Government, Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2013–14, accessed 15 May 2013.
. House of Representatives Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs’ Inquiry into language learning in Indigenous communities Our Land Our Languages, September 2012, accessed 16 May 2013.
. For example G Jenning-Edquist, First Gatsby, now Miller... how American stories win Aussie film funds, crikey web-site, 15 March 2011, viewed 16 May 2013, and Ben Eltham, Millions for a tiny record label with powerful players, Crikey website, 5 April 2012, accessed 16 May 2013.
. S Crean (Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government, Minister for the Arts), and J Gillard (Prime Minister), The Wolverine to film in Australia, media release, 20 April 2012, accessed 20 May 2013.
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