Australia’s creative and cultural industries and institutions have weathered significant challenges due to the COVID-19 public health emergency (COVID-19). Planning for a future where policy decisions pertaining to cultural and creative industries are made in consultation with industry and all levels of government is critical.
Looking to the future, Australia has opportunities to reframe the narrative around its creative and cultural industries to reposition them as economic and cultural powerhouses. The next steps to support these invaluable industries as Australia gradually re-opens and adjusts to operating ‘with-COVID’, and eventually ‘post-COVID’, require careful consideration and planning.
Inquiry participants considered what ‘moving forward’ post-COVID might look like, and many noted the important role that the arts would play in helping people move on from the public health emergency:
As we move forward from COVID_19 every child needs to be able to dream, every towns superstar need a stage to play on and everyone who has been faithfully staying at home need to have a chance to one day go back to their favourite seat and enjoy the great creativity of Australia.
A survey respondent set out that the arts would be able to help society as it moves out of living with COVID-19:
The arts have a significant role to play in the imagining of a COVID-normal future. It is our sector that will lead this countries COVID recovery - building, narrating and capturing the stories of our time and the culture of our future.
Importance of Arts Recognition
Recognition of the important contribution the arts, artists, and those working across the creative and cultural industries make was identified by numerous inquiry participants.
In support of greater recognition and funding for the arts, Mr William McBride asserted that:
Continual lack of investment in and commitment to the arts leads directly to a lack of understanding and recognition about the work artists do, and the immense value it brings to society.
Settlement Services International (SSI) suggested that while newcomer artists to Australia and creative entrepreneurs are able to make a significant contribution to the Australian economy they face challenges including a lack of ‘peer networks and recognition, limited English proficiency and in some cases, visa status restricting work rights’. These difficulties ‘can have a profound impact on the options available for newly arrived artists to secure income through creative employment’.
Professor Julian Meyrick suggested that support for the arts and culture goes beyond public funding, and is tied into ‘bestowing public recognition and respect’. Professor Meyrick suggested that a new ‘bipartisan chapter’ in to cultural policymaking should include:
Evaluation methods and frameworks that, while supplying the aggregate data needed to make arts and culture accountable to government for the public assistance they receive, also make sense to artists and creative and cultural organisations, and recognise the full value they give to Australian society and the economy.
The view that cultural and artistic recognition is entwined with the amount of data available was reiterated by Castlemaine State Festival, which suggested collaboration between Federal and State Governments to ‘develop research methodologies for measuring the community and social wellbeing impacts of the Creative Industries’. The ability to accurately measure the reach of the cultural and creative industries has policy implications for the way public discourse on the arts is framed.
Expanded Data Collection
Data tracking and analysis of the amount of on non-government expenditure on arts and culture has been gathered by a range of agencies including the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Creative Partnerships Australia (CPA), the Bureau of Communications and Arts Research and the now defunct Meeting of Cultural Ministers.
Data on non-government expenditure on arts and culture is collected on:
household expenditure on arts, cultural and creative goods and services;
private sector support, including from individuals, businesses, and trusts/foundations; and
on the revenue side, the earned income of arts, cultural and creative organisations, and of individual creators.
The key measurement tool used by the ABS is the ‘Cultural and Creative Satellite Accounts’ which offer insight into the value of these industries. The satellite accounts are based on the Australia and New Zealand Industry Classification (ANZIC) and the Australia and New Zealand Standard Occupations (ANZSCO) and measure:
activity in the industries which form supply chains for cultural and creative goods and services;
activity in other industries performed by workers in cultural and creative occupations;
volunteer services to arts and heritage organisations; and
non-market output of market producers in the cultural and/or creative industries—this captures the value of goods and services supplied by non-profit institutions for free, or at prices that are not economically significant, because the production is supported by charitable contributions and other transfers.
A New Approach (ANA) suggested that data collection through the cultural and creative satellite accounts is ad hoc, with data first collected by the ABS for the 2008-09 financial year, with this analysis repeated by the Bureau of Communications and Arts Research for the 2016-17 financial year, and in 2020 for the 2017-18 financial year. Further, ANA contended that as the occupation and industry satellite codes are shared with New Zealand and ‘embedded within international agreements about national accounts’ they are difficult to be adjusted, with any changes to them reducing the capacity for reliable commensurability across longitudinal data sets. ANA suggest that:
As a consequence, it is almost impossible for the National Accounts and related satellite accounts to keep up with the rapid pace of industry change. This is problematic, given the ABS industry codes were developed in 1993, the occupation codes were developed in 1999, and neither system has been revised since 2006.
As a consequence, the codes often don’t reflect existing 21st century industries and job roles, nor have capacity to rapidly adapt to the many industries and occupations that don’t currently exist but will in the future. In a sector as agile as the cultural and creative industries, this means the key measurement tool is inadequate for measuring the phenomena at hand.
Ms Esther Anatolitis, an arts advocate and consultant, drew attention to the limited data currently collected on the scope of the creative and cultural industries and institutions and their economic and non-economic impacts. Ms Anatolitis added that presently, ‘We don’t know, for example, how many creative practitioners and unincorporated organisations there are, nor the value of their work’. This lack of data ‘thwarts effective policy and investment’, and Ms Anatolitis suggested additional questions be added to the 2021 Census under ‘Income and Work’ and ‘Unpaid Work’ to effectively capture all professional activity (rather than allowing only one professional activity to be recorded) as well as hours spent on creative practice and hours worked.
In a similar vein, Professor David Throsby put forward the lack of data on cultural statistics as an issue of significant concern, and ‘strongly recommended that the Committee urge the Federal Government to re-establish the National Centre for Culture and Recreation Statistics of the ABS’.
A number of inquiry participants also supported this suggestion for Government gather more data on the creative and cultural sector, patterns of work, and the sector’s economic value and breadth.
Digital platforms provide opportunities to connect, engage and explore the diversity of experiences arts and culture present. The expansion of digital platforms presents opportunities to develop ‘smart art’ in our cities, which ‘engage the public and make them feel connected to their environment’.
Smart art can come in a diversity of forms and serves as the embodiment of the success a Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) approach can produce. Smart art has been used successfully in Sydney as a wayfinding technology, with users downloading an app which uses a device’s location to detect nearby points of interest. Heather Shipman explained the benefits of the map:
Particularly useful for mapping culture walks, the app is beneficial to locals and tourists alike. New digital content can be uploaded quickly and effortlessly, resulting in a highly sustainable product, as there is no need to waste energy and resources constantly updating print materials, and eliminating potential litter as a result.
Barbara Doran was of the view that in the face of ‘zoom fatigue’, ‘enhanced design and more elegant platforms will be sought to support longer term shifts in how we live and work’. Ms Doran suggested that innovative new digital platforms will facilitate:
link gamification and new ways of working;
health applications in augmented and virtual reality in areas such as educating for complex conditions such as dementia and psychosis and injury/ physical rehabilitation;
smart cities and place making
engaging platforms for online collaboration; and
Working with complex problems such as climate change and crisis response.
Professor Terry Flew and Ms Katherine Kirkwood of Queensland University of Technology (QUT) drew attention to the increased use of digital platforms for teaching music which proliferated in response to COVID. They suggested that in the future, ‘Digital will not necessarily replace in-person interactions, but be a valuable supplement.’
In considering the arts’ ‘stronger engagement with digital platforms’, Think Tank Dance Assembly stressed the need for artist-led responses, noting the inefficacy of ‘heavily designed schemes and programs that require a certain type of practice or response or proposal’. Rather, they emphasised the need for flexibility, and the opportunity for artists to direct, and be reimbursed for research into new methods of live practice.
Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Cultural Centre (KALACC) drew attention to Mabu Jila, a digital platform it is establishing for sharing traditional cultural expression:
Mabu Jila is a platform to incentivize and encourage young people in communities to use existing and available technology [smart phones] to record and then upload and share specific aspects of traditional cultural expression ie. eg. a five minute film on how to perform a specific dance.
Mr Wesley Morris made the point that, with support from the Western Australian Government, KALACC is developing Mabu Jila as a ground up approach to teaching culture, ‘We know that there are lots of media organisations out there, but what we're talking about here is a platform that is specifically designed to share and distribute traditional cultural practice’.
Opportunity to collaborate, innovate and learn about digital platform engagement may also be drawn from existing organisations and resources. National and State Libraries Australia (NSLA) pointed out their libraries are already innovative ‘experts in public engagement’, and their limitations are only resources and legislation.
ANA point out that while digital platforms have many strengths, revenue-raising is not always simple, as ‘online audiences are accustomed to receiving digital arts and cultural content for free’.
Digital Copyright Exemptions
Future-proofing and the ability to pivot were highlighted in evidence from the Australian Libraries and Copyright Committee (ALCC) and the Australian Digital Alliance (ADA). The ALCC and the ADA drew attention to flexible copyright laws as an enabler for innovation. In considering current Australian copyright law, their joint submission raised concern that:
Australian law permits the use of certain material without a license for ‘research or study’, ‘criticism or review’, or ‘reporting the news’ among other purposes which serve the public interest. However, the list of purposes for which copyright material may be used is rigid and ill suited to the modern age where innovative new uses are being developed all the time. Unless an activity falls within one of the fixed categories of allowable uses under the Act, it is prohibited.
Also in favour, Professor David Throsby, Dr Jan Zwar and Dr Paul Crosby suggested extending the Public Lending Right (PLR) and Educational Lending Right (ELR) schemes which presently ensure Australian authors are paid for their work when lent from libraries. Their submission suggested extending this scheme:
One practical policy initiative would be to recognise the digital component of book borrowing by extending PLR and ELR payments to include digital lending by libraries.
ALCC and ADA pointed to the value of flexible copyright exemptions and their capacity to transition to digital delivery, and highlighted the flexibility enjoyed at international institutions due to flexibly copyright exemptions. by the American libraries immediate switch to online story times, the historic film collections of British Film Institute and Cineteca Milano, both of which are available online, and the ability of US and Canadian schools and universities to shift to online classes without the need to negotiate additional licenses. ALCC and ADA commented that such ‘initiatives cannot be replicated in Australia because they are either not supported by our existing law or fall into a copyright grey area which places a high legal risk on institutions’.
The Office for the Arts commented that while new technologies have a significant impact on how we work, ‘creative skills, requiring original thought and innovation’ are ‘particularly resistant to automation’ and are therefore ‘likely to face relatively higher demand in the future’.
Content obligations regulate the annual transmission and program quota requirements which apply to broadcasting license holders’ programming of Australian television and radio. The requirements for commercial television broadcasting license holders are set out in the Broadcasting Services (Australian Content and Children’s Television) Standards 2020 (the Standards) with changes introduced from 1 January 2021.
Screen Producers Australia (SPA) outlined the outgoing system for commercial free-to-air television quotas:
860 points of first-release Australian drama in prime time over three years;
20 hours of first-release Australian documentary per year;
260 hours of children’s (C) programs per year (of which 130 hours must be first release, 25 hours must be first release Australian children’s drama, and eight hours must be repeat programs); and
130 hours of preschool (P) programming per year.
The new Standards require ‘commercial television broadcasting licensees to broadcast a minimum of 250 points of first release Australian programs’. Points may be accrued through eligible programs including:
commissioned Australian drama programs, including drama classified as C (children’s) or P (preschool);
commissioned Australian children’s programs (non-drama);
commissioned Australian documentary programs; or
acquired Australian films.’
Points are calculated by multiplying the number of hours of Australian content broadcast by the points allocated per hour to each genre. Considerations are made for production budget or licence fee, with more points allocated for larger budget programs. For example, a first release Australian drama program with a ‘production budget of less than or equal to $450,000 per hour’ receives 1.5 points per hour broadcast, whereas a ‘production budget of more than $1,400,000 per hour’ receives 7 points per broadcast.
Further, commercial television broadcasters must broadcast 55 per cent ‘Australian content between 6 am and midnight on primary channels’ and ‘1,460 hours of Australian content between 6 am and midnight on non-primary channels’.
The Australian Directors’ Guild supported the requirement of a 55 per cent content quota. They noted that this does not ensure new drama, children’s programs and documentary content will screen, and can be comprised of ‘news, sports, lifestyle, cheap format shows and old films and television shows’. The Australian Directors’ Guild added that:
These changes weaken the drama, documentary and children’s content quotas for subscription and free-to-air television and have stopped short of transitioning and extending the rules to new media platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+. This will leave many in the industry stranded.
In a similar vein, SPA asserted that under the new Standards ‘the amount of drama, children’s and documentary commissioning will reduce substantially in the coming years’.
Creative Economy supported the introduction of a ‘local content quota across all digital platforms’. They pointed to the need for ‘Australian voice, identity and cultural expression’ within Australia’s local, regional and international reach, predicting increased expenditure on creative and cultural industries as an outcome of local content quotas.
The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (DITRDC) was of the view that the changes to content quotas which harmonised the Australian Screen Production Incentive offset to 30 per cent for film and television ‘provide a more consistent and standardised offset arrangement’.
Support for local content quotas was also expressed by a number of other inquiry participants including Ms Janet Watson Kruse, The Rabble, Melbourne Jazz Co-operative, Ms Fiona Press, Writers South Australia, APRA AMCOS and Australian Writers’ Guild. Concerns regarding a reduction or loss of content quotas focused on the fear that there would be ‘a loss of Australian voices on our screens’.
In April the federal government temporarily suspended local content quotas for international streaming services. This immediately reduced investment in producing Australian content and employment across film and media from writers to directors, set design to costume, actors to technicians, and has flow-on effects for the production sector which had already been impacted by widespread shutdowns. Mandating the development of local content is not only essential to the creative economy but sustaining of a national identity.
The Australian Guild of Screen Composers suggested that Commonwealth Government changes to content regulation and incentives ‘will have a dramatic flow-on effect to the economic and cultural output and job situation by July 2022’.
On 25 March the Government introduced the Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (2021 Measures No. 1) Bill 2021. The proposed measures in the Bill would, among other measures, ‘reduce regulatory burden on subscription television broadcasting licensees by halving the annual expenditure requirement for Australian drama programming from 10 per cent to 5 per cent and amend on an ongoing basis.’
The Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher, in his second reading speech elaborated on the rationale to halve the annual expenditure requirement for Australian drama programming:
These amendments will reduce the regulatory burden on channel providers and licensees, and form part of a broader set of reforms to the regulation of Australian content announced by this government on 30 September 2020. These reforms include measures to: modernise Australian content rules for commercial free-to-air broadcasters (including simplifying and reducing obligations); and provide greater support for the production and distribution of Australian content, particularly in drama, documentary and children's content.
The changes to the drama expenditure requirement for subscription broadcasters included in the bill reform unsustainable obligations on the industry and create a more consistent regulatory framework. They are part of a package of measures that will enable Australians to continue to have access to Australian content across a range of mediums, regardless of whether they prefer to watch free-to-air television, subscription television or streaming services.
Video Game Industry
Australians spent $3.6 billion on video games in in 2019, with the sector generating ‘approximately twice the combined economic activity of film and music’. In contrast to the global video games development sector, the Australian sector is comparatively small and employs 1,275 workers, and generated $143.5 million in income over 2018-19.
Operating in a digital space has allowed the industry a degree of resilience to the restrictions imposed by COVID-19, with Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA) noting its members were largely able to minimise negative impacts, with developers able to continue to create, publish and sell games throughout the pandemic. Further, the popularity of video games experienced a surge as Australians sought new ways to connect with friends and family while physically distant. IGEA noted that:
Sadly, game development is the only part of the entire Australian arts sector that receives no federal arts support, despite $750+ million being provided to the creative and cultural sectors annually. As a result of this policy gap, Australia is one of the most expensive places to make games in the world, and among the least competitive for attracting investment. With the right policies in place, our industry can generate $1 billion a year in (almost all export) revenue and employ 10,000 fulltime workers within the decade.
IGEA put forward recommendations to align regulations around the video game industry to those supporting the film and television industry. They suggested the Commonwealth Government introduce tax offsets for video game production, and the restoration of the Australian Interactive Games Fund or a similar scheme. These recommendations were also made by the Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications in its report, The future of Australia’s video game development industry in April 2016.
The role for state government support was put forward as a model for consideration in 2016 inquiry, The future of Australia’s video game development industry, with the report noting the support provided by the Victorian Government through:
Assigned Production Investment – Games;
Games Professional Placements.
The Commonwealth Government Response to the Standing Committee on Environment and Communications’ video games inquiry noted the recommendation to ‘introduce a funding scheme based on the former Australian Interactive Games Fund’, and suggested the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) ‘includes measures that are available for certain kinds of business models within the games industry’.
Further, the Commonwealth Government did not support the recommendation to introduce ‘a refundable tax offset for Australian expenditure in the development of game titles’. Rather, the existing measures in place, such as $1.1 billion through NISA over four years from 2015, the Entrepreneurs’ Programme and the R&D Tax Incentive.
The Commonwealth Government introduced the Digital Games Offset in the 2021-22 budget, which introduced a 30 per cent refundable tax offset for businesses that spend a minimum of $500,000 on qualifying Australian games expenditure. This is capped at $20 million per eligible business.
In the 2021-22 budget, the Commonwealth Government announced the introduction of a patent box policy to increase research and development. This is currently limited to the biotechnology and medical technology sectors, providing a 17 per cent concessional tax rate for corporate income derived directly from medical and biotechnology patents. This form of policy may also benefit the game development industry.
The video game industry and gaming technology industry are the predominant sectors applying for trademarks, and may benefit from a patent box policy.
A patent box is a policy tool to reduce corporate tax levied on income generated by certain types of intellectual property, including patents. A patent box regime targets the last stage of the commercialisation state of the innovation lifecycle, providing tax relief as either a reduced tax rate or a tax break for a portion of the patent box income. Patent box policies are designed to encourage two behaviours: incentivising research and development investment and innovation, and attracting mobile intellectual property income. This is often achieved through reduction in tax rates ranging from five to fifteen per cent.
A patent box policy will also reduce the incentive to transfer patents and intellectual property outside of Australia, ensuring ownership of successful innovation remains in the country. PriceWaterhouseCoopers highlights that through boosting continuing investment in innovation opportunities in Australia, patent box policies have potential to deliver long-term outcomes for the Australian economy.
The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, Office of the Chief Economist and Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research listed possible benefits of a patent box tax regime as: preventing tax avoidance; inducing investment in innovation activities; an increase in the incentives to patent; and, more profits for firms and small business.
Qualifying intellectual property varies across countries implementing these schemes, and can include patents, trademarks, designs, know-how, domain names, business names, models, and software copyright. Eligibility for the scheme also differs in countries, with most programs requiring the economic owner of the intellectual property to be a taxpayer of the relevant country.
Responsiveness to Restrictions
COVID-19 has demonstrated that the ability for artists to pivot to new modes of program delivery, artistic expression and innovate is invaluable. Latrobe City Council highlighted the radical change to operating models for regional performing arts centres. While Latrobe City has had the capacity to develop an operating model which can successfully pivot, ‘it is contingent on the producers of performing arts content also being able to pivot.’
The ability of artists to be responsive to challenges is not new. Professor Stuart Cunningham and Dr Marion McCutcheon drew attention to the way portfolio careers (or adaptive, ‘gig’ work) are the norm in regional Australia ‘as creative professionals respond to economic challenges as well as changes in consumer and audience preferences’.
Professor Paul Rae and colleagues points to the ‘digital pivot’ that many organisations have been forced towards, and the struggle to monetise digital content. While many organisations have struggled, this has led to new opportunities and business models, such as the Melbourne Digital Concert Hall (MDCH):
Launched in late March 2020 as a strategy to support Australian musicians who had lost work, MDCH produces multiple online concerts on a weekly basis, each for a $24 ‘admission’ charge. Eighty-three percent of the ticket price goes directly to the performing artists, and MDCH has successfully raised more than $700,000 for 300+ musicians between March and October 2020
Professor Rae and colleagues suggest that this mode of arts delivery presents opportunity ‘to make the cultural sector more inclusive, more accessible and more viable in a post-pandemic era’.
Sustainability of the Arts Industry
Inquiry participants drew attention to Commonwealth Government funding for arts and cultural activities, with numerous suggestions to increase funding to the Australia Council for the Arts:
The Australia Council for the Arts supports all parts of the sector, from independent artists through small-to-medium sized companies and the National Partnership Organisations such as the symphony orchestras. Symphony Services Australia supports LPA’s call for an additional $100 million (or $25 million per annum over four years) to the Australia Council to drive economic and social recovery post COVID-19, further unlocking Australia’s creative and cultural potential.
In a similar vein, other inquiry participants advocated for an overall increase in sector-wide funding, including ‘backbone funding’ which comprises ‘stable, operational multi-year grants including annual CPI increases’.
One inquiry participant suggested that as a result of the difficult to entry they have experienced in their local arts community, there are insufficient opportunities and suggested ‘local and federal funding agencies become aware of this and increase funding to smaller, local based productions with rural opportunities and low production web series for streaming sites’.
A survey respondent suggested that international models may provide an example of a different structure of funding:
Provide more long term support for artists- Emulate models like Germany or Finland, and pay a living wage for what is largely done for free. Provide pathways for training and early career artists - have Centrelink recognise arts work in all levels and forms. Art is work. Acknowledge that.
The view that many small to medium organisations which are ‘chronically understaffed’ should receive more funding was reinforced by several inquiry participants including Therese Virtue OAM, who suggested an ‘arts led recovery’ from COVID-19.
Women’s Art Register suggested that the benefits and employment opportunities of the creative and cultural industries could be expanded through:
Strategic and targeted policies and an ongoing funding structure for longstanding grass roots arts communities such as ours, would go a long way to securing the precarious position of such organisations, and to enhance the community service and arts outcomes they demonstrate.
Fairfield City Council suggested that as a result of current funding structures ‘artists and arts workers are often employed on a contract basis or in positions that are grant dependent’.
APRA AMCOS suggest funding structures and screen incentives ‘could better support local talent’, and highlighted the potential support screen offsets could provide.
One survey respondent suggested that funding for accessibility be made available:
We need funding to make events accessible - Auslan, captions etc. - for all artists, it shouldn’t just be up to disabled people and orgs to do this. Access should be done by everyone. Keep accessible events post COVID Keep easy and quick grants application processes.
Attracting Major Creative and Cultural Events
Film and Television Content
Ausfilm drew attention to Australia’s unique advantages, and noted the:
…winning combination of some of the best talent globally—both in front of and behind the camera—state-of-the-art studio facilities, incredibly talented and creative post-production and visual effects studios, and locations which can double for almost anywhere in the world.
The Office for the Arts suggested that due to Australia’s ‘containment’ of COVID-19, and the Commonwealth Government’s announcement in July 2020 of a $400 million boost to the location incentive program, Australia is an increasingly attractive destination. In this environment of comparative stability, Ausfilm has experienced ‘an increase of over 300 per cent’ in inquiries when compared with the same time in 2019, which equates to $2.1 billion in production inquiries.
International film productions in Queensland (Nine Perfect Strangers, Thor: Love and Thunder, Escape From Spiderhead, Thirteen Lives, Baz Luhrmann's Elvis biopic) and Melbourne and Canberra (Blacklight) have brought in significant benefits.
COVID-Safe Festivals and Live Events
With the ever evolving COVID-19 restrictions in 2020 and 2021, social-distancing regulations mean large-scale festivals moved online. Examples include the 67th Sydney Film Festival: Virtual Edition and Awards, Melbourne International Film Festival, Isol-Aid Music Festival, Woodford Folk Festival, Sydney Writers' Festival, and Splendour in the Grass XR.
While acknowledging that the live performing arts industry is inherently framed around an in-person experience, asserting that digital adaptations can ‘never deliver the same experience’, the Sydney Dance Company drew attention to their success in adapting to digital spaces. Commencing in late March, the Sydney Dance Company has delivered online dance classes to over 65,000 paid attendees.
Latrobe City Council suggested support for ‘community-led public festivals to transition to online or blended delivery’ as a means to ensure a more resilient model of program delivery through inbuilt flexibility.
It is vital to unsure that Governments have the most current and relevant information with which to make informed policy and legislative decisions. There is no single repository which captures Australia-wide data on arts funding and programs. Economic and employment data on arts and culture in Australia, particularly on paid and unpaid work, has not been collected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics since 2014. The Australian Museums and Galleries Association (AMaGA) recommended ‘include relevant questions in the Census and improve the Australian Bureau of Statistics datasets that inform the Cultural and Creative Satellite Accounts’ as a way to measure the ‘direct and indirect economic benefits and employment opportunities of creative and cultural industries.’ The Committee agrees with this recommendation.
As noted in Chapter 2, the video game industry is one of the fastest growing arts sectors globally. The video game industry and gaming technology industry are the predominant sectors applying for trademarks. The advancement of technology has changed the way games are designed, shared and played. The importance of all Intellectual Property rights in this process should not be overlooked and is now a priority when a new project is initiated. A patent can be granted for inventions that are not already in the public environment and allows the holder to take action against the invention being copied or used without permission. The recently announced patent box policy is designed to encourage incentivising research and development investment and innovation, and attract mobile intellectual property income. These two attributes are particularly beneficial to support the development of Australia’s video game industry. The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government consider expanding the patent box tax regime to the video game industry.
Art Starter Portal
The Committee appreciates the complexity and challenge of trying to turn art into your sole income, and notes the dedication of inquiry participants engaged in creative work to continue to make and share their work.
As the past year has shown, change can happen very quickly and without warning, leaving a stark gap between the skills required for an arts-based income pre- and post-COVID-19.
The Committee considers that a focus on artist digital and financial literacy will help artists to acclimatise to the changing economy and society as we move past COVID-19. Digital platforms for art delivery may remain, or even increase, as it becomes a more ‘normal’ way to consume artistic creations. Digital sales, monetisation opportunities and protection of intellectual property will likely be necessary skills and abilities in a future arts landscape.
The Committee considers that an online portal administered by the Office for the Arts would be an immense value-add for those engaged (or aspiring to be engaged) in creative work, and could include information on:
financial literacy, including information on taxation regimes and subsidies;
working with a business mentor to allow readiness for monetisation opportunities;
information on grants and funding opportunities; and
information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists on protecting their work, and accessing advice on moving forward in the global art world.
An ‘Art Starter’ online portal would allow a landing page for emerging and established artists to access up-to-date information, submit queries or suggest new features, and learn new skills to help empower Australia’s creative community to showcase their work to domestic and international audiences.
The Committee recommends the Commonwealth Government provide additional funding to the Australian Bureau of Statistics to produce the Cultural and Creative Satellite Accounts annually, gather and publish data on levels and type of employment, trends, revenue, geographic trends across the creative and cultural industries.
The Committee recommends the Australian Bureau of Statistics add questions to the Census which better account for the professions of those working in gig economies, and across the creative and cultural industries with recognition of paid and unpaid work.
The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government ensures that the patent box tax regime is extended to intellectual property relating to the creation of video games and related technology in Australia.
The Committee recommends that the Office for the Arts investigate the delivery of an ‘Art Starter’ portal containing information for artists, and those engaged in the creative economy, at all stages of their careers to enable Australia’s arts industry to continue to grow and reach new audiences. The portal should include information on:
financial literacy, including information on taxation regimes and subsidies;
intellectual property and licensing of designs;
working with a business mentor to allow readiness for monetisation opportunities;
services and support available across government to help businesses through business.gov.au;
information on grants and funding opportunities, scholarships and prizes particularly for emerging artists;
information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists on protecting their work, and accessing advice on moving forward in the global art world; and
other information, as required.
The Committee further recommends that the Office for the Arts investigate the potential for an Art Starter portal with other relevant Commonwealth, State and Territory Agencies, and industry peak bodies.
The Committee recommends the Office for the Arts investigate ways in which to support regional peak bodies for the creative and cultural arts industries and institutions.
The Committee recommends that the Office for the Arts, in collaboration with the Australia Council for the Arts, establish a new ‘Local Artistic Champions Program’ (akin to the existing Local Sporting Champions Program) to enable emerging Australian student artists, musicians, authors, playwrights, filmmakers, digital artists and game developers to apply for grants to support attendance at competitions, exhibitions, skills development courses relevant to their craft.
The Committee recommends that the Office for the Arts establish a Music Access Assistance Program to increase active participation of school students, particularly in low socio-economic, rural and regional areas, in musical endeavours.
The Music Access Assistance Program should provide affordable access to music education opportunities including instruments, music books and other musical equipment.
The Committee recommends that the relevant Commonwealth minister(s) report on the progress of the Committee’s recommendations by December 2022.