Arts and culture

Budget Review 2022–23 Index

Andrew Banfield & Philip Hamilton

Budget Paper 2 outlines that ‘the government will provide an additional $38.3 million over 2 years from 2021–22 to support the arts sector’ (p. 131). However, Budget Paper 1 notes that expenses for arts and cultural heritage are ‘estimated to decrease 10.6% in real terms from 2021–22 and decrease by 13.1% in real terms from 2022–23 to 2025–26’ (p. 161). This decrease appears to be largely a consequence of the cessation of the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund.


As part of the COVID-19 recovery package, RISE was first announced in June 2020 to help the ‘arts and entertainment sector to reactivate’. The initial amount was $75 million with a further $125 million announced in March 2021. The competitive grant program provides funding to arts and entertainment organisations to stage festivals, concerts, tours, exhibitions, and events. The Fund allows for employment opportunities including the retention of artists and skilled workers.

An additional $20 million is allocated to RISE in the 2022–23 budget, with the Minister indicating that the Fund will conclude on 30 September 2022 (p. 131). To date, RISE has supported 541 projects, and supported more than 213,000 jobs. According to The Conversation:

Over the last two years, the arts were valued by the federal government to the extent that they were able to be used to stimulate the economy.

The assumption appears to be that, now that the creative and cultural industries have received a $200 million shot in the arm, they will now be able to stand back up and walk on their own two feet – and help those businesses around them do likewise.

It doesn’t appear the RISE Fund, and its ultimate decision making power by the minister, is a template for the future of arts funding in any literal sense because it is due to disappear.

But it may have changed the culture of arts funding in this country, explicitly focusing funding on cultural activities and initiatives informed by an overtly commercial mindset.

National cultural institutions

Some cultural institutions will see increases in their appropriations in 2022–23. In a measure announced since the 2021 MYEFO, the National Museum of Australia has been allocated $3.5 million in 2021–22 and $5.8 million in 2022–23 as part of the ‘COVID-19 Response Package – additional arts sector support’ (PBS p. 391). The Australia Council for the Arts, the Government’s primary arts funding and advisory body, will see a rise in funding from $219.8 million in 2021–22 to $230.8 million by 2025–26 (PBS p. 109). Similarly, the National Film and Sound Archive will see an increase from $28.0 million in 2021–22 to $31.3 million by 2025–26 (PBS p. 333). The National Portrait Gallery will largely maintain its current government funding levels out to 2025–26 (PBS p. 410), as will the Museum of Democracy at Old Parliament House (PBS p. 332).

However, Government funding to other institutions will significantly decrease over the forward estimates. Appropriations for the Australian War Memorial are forecast to decrease from $46.1 million in 2021–22 to $41.3 million in 2025–26 (PBS p. 87). In a measure announced since the 2021 MYEFO, Screen Australia has been allocated $9 million in 2021–22 as part of the ‘COVID-19 Response Package – additional arts sector support’, but with the conclusion of a two-year period of additional funding will see its appropriations reduce from $39.5 million in 2021–22 and $27.8 million in 2022–23 to about $11.7 million in each of the forward estimates years. (PBS p. 481). Despite receiving a $3 million increase in the coming financial year, the National Library will subsequently face an almost $14 million (22%) decline in appropriations in 2023–24. The National Gallery will see appropriations decrease, albeit less so, from $50 million in 2021–22 to $46 million in 2025–26 (PBS p. 351). The Library’s 2021–22 Budget Review discussed funding estimates for cultural institutions to 2024–25 (see ‘Media, arts and sport).

Prior to the Budget, the retiring former speaker of the House of Representatives, Tony Smith, used one of his last speeches in Parliament to plead for more funding for the National Archives. However, no additional funding was announced for the National Archives in the Budget. New money was announced in the December 2021 MYEFO, including $9.6 million in 2022–23, $8 million in 2023–24 and $7.9 million in 2024–25. These funds are for the Preserving Australia’s Cultural Heritage program, which facilitates the digitisation of historic records. It is worth noting that the overall appropriation level declines in the forward estimates from $77.8 million in 2021-22 to $70.9 million in 2025–26. A new Director-General, Simon Froude, will commence his five-year term in May 2022.

A National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Precinct, Ngurra, will be established in the Parliamentary Triangle in Canberra. Construction will be funded by $316.5 million over 5 years from 2021–22. The Ngurra Precinct will also become the new location of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) (p. 163). Ngurra and AIATSIS are discussed in more detail in the ‘Indigenous Affairs: health, culture and language, housing, justice and safety’ article in this Budget Review.


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