Australia is home to a vibrant and diverse landscape of creative and cultural industries and institutions (otherwise known as ‘the arts’). These industries and institutions are broad-reaching, employing and engaging people within Australia and internationally. The twelve cultural and creative ‘domains’ recognised by the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) industry codes, and used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), are:
Literature and print media;
Broadcasting, electronic or digital media, and film;
Music composition and publishing;
Other cultural goods and manufacturing and sales; and
Arts funding and policy delivery occurs across Australia at Commonwealth, State and Territory and Local Government levels, as well as through private engagement and support. Identifying what programs and grants are available to individuals or organisations across the creative and cultural sector is complex, and there is no single repository which captures Australia-wide data on arts funding and programs.
Many inquiry participants called for support from Commonwealth, State or Territory and Local Governments, but found it difficult to distinguish which level of Government has responsibility for different areas.
Major Arts Domains in Australia
Inquiry participants outlined the unique features of sub-sectors of the arts industry and set out the opportunities and challenges felt in each area. It was also noted, however, that Australia’s creative and cultural industries and institutions are interconnected and often have symbiotic relationships. For example, Australian literature may be made into a film or television series, or an Australian live performance held in an art gallery.
The Office for the Arts set out that connections may be aesthetic or related to the individuals in the industry. For example, an aesthetic movement may begin in one facet of the arts and spread through others, linking them together through this movement; or, the connection may be between the people employed:
…there are important interconnections between the people employed and practising in these industries. Many people working in these industries share important aspects of their educations and possess closely related skills. In some cases, people move back-and-forth between various industries (for example, between theatre, broadcasting and film). People across these industries share common networks and communities, and many are linked by shared senses of identity and professional association.
Indigenous Art, Culture and Heritage
Country, culture and community are, for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, intrinsically linked and the wellbeing and success of one depends on the health of another.
A rapid acceleration in the international market for Indigenous art was noted by Mr Dean Merlino, who stated that: ‘A recent piece in the Australian and New Zealand Art Sales Digest has suggested that Indigenous Art has achieved that rare feat of achieving popularity outside of its cultural context.’
The National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) set out the enormous economic value of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visual arts:
It is estimated that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visual arts industry brings $400 million to the economy each year. Further, Australia’s First Nations tourism has an estimated value of $8.4 billion annually, catering to 978,000 international visitors and 715,000 overnight domestic trips in the 2017/2018 financial year. In 2018 2019, four Indigenous art fairs alone hosted more than 96,400 visitors, achieved more than $5 million in art sales, featured work by more than 2,700 artists and made a combined estimated contribution of approximately $20 million to their regional economies.
The rise in prices for Aboriginal artworks, particularly in the secondary market, places upwards pressure on primary markets, with new works becoming more desirable to collectors. Further, the secondary market benefits from the Resale Royalty Scheme, with visual artists entitled to five per cent of the resale price (for eligible works), which applies to artworks by living artists, and up to 70 years after an artist’s death.
On the other hand, the Aboriginal Art Association of Australia (AAAA) stated that sustainable growth of the consumer market for Indigenous visual arts is ‘essential in an environment of finite funding’. AAAA argued that the consumer market is more important than the growth of supply ‘fuelled by grants’.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and practice supports cultural leadership. Warlayirti Artists suggested that there is a gap in the support of ‘culturally relevant economies’ which has a dramatic impact on the wellbeing of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Further, there is a risk of loss at the change of generations:
If there is no immediate action now, 60,000 years of knowledge can be lost in the next five to 10 years when the first contact old people, with serious health issues, pass away.
Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Cultural Centre (KALACC) noted the absence of both a ‘National Arts Policy’ and a ‘National Indigenous Cultural Policy’.
In particular, we are told that policy responsibility for ‘Traditional Cultural Expression’ or ‘Cultural Maintenance’ activities sit with [National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA)], not with the Office of Arts. But there is no funding in NIAA for ‘Traditional Cultural Expression’ and there is no policy framework around it.
KALACC made a number of recommendations including:
development of a national cultural policy;
inter-agency cohesion and coordination;
focus on outcomes drawn from the Productivity Commission’s draft ‘Indigenous Evaluation Strategy’;
strategies around the cultural determinants of health; and
completion of ‘The situation and status of Indigenous cultures and heritage Framework’ which is currently under development by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS).
The City of Sydney emphasised the need to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures are ‘at the heart of Australian cultural policy’:
…protecting Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property and developing programs to share First Nations culture and address barriers to participation and inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
In support of this central focus on Aboriginal art and culture, the City of Sydney recommended that local governments Australia-wide receive funding to maintain an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural office. The offices could record and share local Aboriginal histories, ‘local truth telling activities’ and deliver programs to engage with Aboriginal cultures and languages.
A number of inquiry participants highlighted the importance of diversity and equality in the arts. Participants identified a need for diversity in all sectors of the arts and a need for more representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. One survey respondent stated that ‘there needs to be more Indigenous representation and storytelling. The industry is white dominated and we have to do more’.
Australian Craft Design Centres highlighted the need for ‘First Nations and culturally diverse leadership, employment and participation embedded in all arts organisations’ across Australia.
The Public Galleries Association of Victoria drew attention to the important work of galleries to provide connection to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and artists. Public galleries across Victoria hold significant collections of contemporary and historic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artwork in their collections which ‘celebrate the local Indigenous people, their history and continuous living culture’.
Box 2.1: Case Study: Little J and Big Cuz
Film and television production of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities influence both domestic and international audiences: Anecdotal evidence finds that shows such as Redfern Now ‘help to build a greater understanding of Indigenous Australia’.
Little J and Big Cuz is a Logie award-winning Australian animated children’s television show. It aims to authentically represent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and peoples.
An impact study of the program has found that, in addition to providing entertainment, it assists Indigenous children’s transition to school, celebrates and includes Indigenous cultures in learning environments, and recognises and supports strengths in learners alongside their emotional wellbeing. The influence of Little J and Big Cuz has been used since the onset of COVID-19:
…during the COVID-19 pandemic, the creators of Little J & Big Cuz, together with ABC and SBS, used the popular animation characters to amplify the importance of thorough handwashing to stop the spread of the virus amongst small children and Indigenous communities. This public health message is of great public interest and can be communicated easier with the help of an adored animation character such as Little J.
The Office for the Arts noted that the Commonwealth Government invests approximately $21 million annually through the Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support (IVAIS) program towards the operation of over 80 Indigenous-owned art centres, organisations, art fairs, and regional hubs. These provide professional opportunities for more than 8,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and around 500 Indigenous arts workers.
Aboriginal art centres serve a valuable role and are ‘often at the heart of community life’, however the AAAA suggested that there are issues with the current grant landscape, which impacts on the efficacy of art centres. AAAA suggested that IVAIS grants are ‘seen as the end game rather than a step on the road to financial sustainability’. The AAAA stated that in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art centres, the return on the grant dollar decreased by 60 per cent from 2004-05 to 2018-19, adding that:
In 2004/5 around 20% of total art centre income came from grants $1 in funding generated $4 in third party sales;
By 2018/19, over 40% of total art centre income came from grants $1 in funding generated $1.50 in third party sales.
Protecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art is an integral part of the cultural identity, history and stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities. Additionally, evidence from the Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs in its report on the inquiry into the impact of inauthentic art and craft in the styles of First Nations peoples in December 2018 (First Nations inauthentic art report), found that visitors to Australia are keen to experience Indigenous culture, including purchasing souvenirs. Analysis by Tourism Research Australia found that 198,000 international visitors purchased Indigenous art, drafts or souvenirs in the 2017-18 financial year.
The First Nations inauthentic art report stated that the majority of souvenirs in an Indigenous style that are sold in Australia are thought to be inauthentic. The report considered the impact this has on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and Australia, including the negative effect inauthentic art has on Australia’s image abroad, and the issue that inauthentic products deny Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and artisans the opportunity to earn a living by representing their own culture.
Concern regarding inauthentic Indigenous art was also highlighted by a number of inquiry participants. The NAVA commented on the continued problem of fake Indigenous arts being sold in Australia, stating:
Despite numerous calls from the industry to end fake ‘Indigenous’ arts and craft being sold in Australia, the proliferation of art fraud continues to cheat First Nations artists and communities of income and other opportunities.
Further, the NAVA drew attention to the harm that inauthentic Indigenous art production causes to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, ‘undermining the role of communities, through misappropriation and exploitation of the stories, imagery, knowledge and heritage embodied in authentic works’.
The NAVA suggested the establishment of national, enforceable standards to prevent inauthentic Indigenous art, a recommendation also put forward as urgently requiring action by the AAAA and Creative Victoria. A similar recommendation was also made in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander inauthentic art report through the development of a Certification Trade Mark scheme for authentic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and craft, created in full consultation with relevant stakeholders.
The NAVA drew attention to ‘the lack of laws protecting Indigenous Cultural Intellectual Property’.
The AAAA raised concern that Australia presently does not currently support a national gallery dedicated to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visual arts, and suggested that:
A national gallery would not only showcase the treasure that is [Indigenous Visual Arts], a matter of cultural importance, but would continue to raise awareness locally and for international visitors. It is hard to believe that an increase in awareness would not lead to increased sales.
A Northern Territory initiative to create a National Aboriginal Art Gallery has been announced, which ‘will host a globally significant Australia-wide art collection from the world’s oldest continuous cultures’ and be located in Alice Springs. The status of the project, including a timeline of construction and opening, is unknown.
Australia’s performing arts is a vibrant and diverse artistic medium, such as arts and skills which require a performance in front of a public audience including singing, dancing, acting, opera, theatre and circus.
The performing arts consist of creative artists, musicians, writers and performers, who can be freelance/independent or work in groups. Works may be original or reproduced.
The Bureau of Communications and Arts Research (BCAR) stated that the Gross Value Added (GVA) of the performing arts has ‘experienced growth of $403 million or 30.0 per cent from 2008-09 to 2016-17’.
The Commonwealth Government delivers the National Performing Arts Partnership Framework (the Framework), which gives effect to feedback from extensive public consultation sought in 2018. The Framework replaces a 2011 Framework, and aims to make administrative and funding decisions which will provide ‘a mix of funding support to companies in Australia’s performing arts sector through mechanisms within our individual jurisdictions as well as coordinated, multilateral government support for a cohort of organisations’. The Framework is facilitated by the Australia Council for the Arts (Australia Council).
Dr Nick Earls stated that the performing arts has a very high economic value, with this sector out-performing the construction and oil and gas extraction sectors:
Actions taken by government to support creative industries have a high likelihood of being economically influential, particularly in the area of employment. According to ABS estimates, for every million dollars of turnover in the creative and performing arts, nine people are employed. The construction industry sees one job per million dollars turnover, and oil and gas extraction 0.25.
As well as providing a creative outlet for performers, audiences and communities benefit from the performing arts scene through festivals, concerts, events and other performances. CircuitWest set out that there is a recognised relationship between community and the performing arts:
The performing arts sector has also changed over many decades and radically over the last ten years. The sector is now seen as having strong alignment with community building and community development/wellbeing.
Latrobe City Council set out that, in addition to the clear economic benefits of the performing arts, there were strong non-economic benefits:
Performing arts programs offer shared experiences, enjoyment and opportunities to connect to the community. Public art enhances feelings of safety and supports enjoyment and level of comfort in public spaces. Public festivals enable broad community access to creative programs and experiences.
Sam Lynch stated that the general public’s view of ‘performing arts’ may not be reflective of the full suite of performances available, and was concerned that funding may be allocated to a particular type of performing art aimed at an exclusive audience:
If you stop someone in the street and ask what performing arts means…many will describe the arts, a ballerina on a giant stage, and orchestra in full flight, and opera singer belting out Wagner. Many you stop will also say, that this performing art is “not for people like us”. The current funding seems to focus on inner-metro-centric, adult focussed, art-for-art-sake experiences. Numbers of attendees are deceptive because for major performing arts the same customers go time and time again.
Latrobe City Council currently operates the 277 seat theatre and 400 seat hall Latrobe Performing Arts Centre, and is building a ‘new 750 seat Performing Arts Centre set in a creative precinct that will also see the establishment of a Creative Industries Training Centre and Incubator’. Latrobe City Council also stated that a lot of regional-scale funding for cultural activity comes from the local government level:
In the regional context, a vast majority of cultural activity is funded and presented by local government owned institutions such as public galleries and performing arts centres, as well as other activities such as public programs and public art. Councils act as commissioners, presenters and producers in the creative and cultural industries as this activity has a multiplying effect in the economy; stimulating demand in the hospitality, retail and tourism sectors as well as supply in the construction, logistics and services sectors.
The role of community-focussed theatre was highlighted by Ms Gwendolyn Knox, particularly as communities emerge from restrictions:
The [Community Cultural Development (CCD)] and community focussed theatre works will have a whole new meaning in what they can provide to individuals, small and large communities and business, in the recovery period as they come out of the COVID 19 shut down and other crises. The sector has close links to mental health and community wellbeing. CCD Arts has a fine track record in helping create wellbeing in communities that have had difficulties such as dealing with a pandemic.
The Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP) raised concerns over a decline in Commonwealth funding for youth arts:
Of greater concern is the long-term decline in Federal Government investment in the performing arts with specific reference to the youth arts. This is having catastrophic implications for the national youth theatre sector and the ATYP. In 2007 there were twenty-two youth theatre companies in receipt of operational funding from the Australia Council. In 2022 there will be seven.
The renowned theatre company at Belvoir St Theatre has been an incubator for Australian performing arts talent, and for more than three decades has been an important centre for Australian theatre:
Both the Upstairs and Downstairs stages at Belvoir St Theatre have nurtured the talents of many renowned Australian artists: actors including Wayne Blair, Cate Blanchett, Sacha Horler, Deb Mailman, Jacqui McKenzie, Robyn Nevin, Leah Purcell, Pamela Rabe, Richard Roxburgh, Hazem Shammas and Toby Schmitz; writers such as Rita Kalnejais, Lally Katz, Kate Mulvany, Tommy Murphy and Matthew Whittet; directors including Benedict Andrews, Wesley Enoch, Eamon Flack, Rachael Maza, Anne-Louise Sarks, Simon Stone and former Artistic Director Neil Armfield.
Belvoir St Theatre also tours across Australia and internationally, and receives Commonwealth funding through the Framework, and state funding. Other revenue comes from the box office, development and commercial activities.
Visual Arts, Galleries and Museums
The visual arts include visual media, including craft, design and media arts, and is a major arts sector and employer of artists.
The NAVA is ‘the peak body in Australia for the visual and media arts, craft and design sector’. The NAVA conducts advocacy work, provides advice and ‘support to artists and arts workers as well as professional development, resources and training’. The NAVA’s Code of Practice for the Professional Australian Visual Arts, Media, Craft and Design Sector sets national best practice standards for the contemporary arts industry. A major revision of the Code of Practice is underway.
Visual arts are supported by the Office for the Arts through a range of initiatives, including:
Artbank—program which acquires the work of living, Australian contemporary artists and makes the collection available to the general public through a leasing program;
the Resale Royalty Scheme—a scheme under which visual artists and other right-holders are entitled to five per cent of the sale price of eligible artworks resold commercially for $1,000 or more; and
the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy—a nationally-coordinated joint package of funding agreed by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments. Funding is provided for individual artists, arts and craft organisations, arts events, artist-run initiatives and touring exhibitions.
Museums and Gallery Spaces
The International Council of Museums Australia (ICOM) Australia stated that museums and galleries have a special significance in telling stories:
Museums and galleries are where Australia’s stories are collected, preserved, interpreted and shared. In some cases, their collections are of national significance; in others they represent the interests of a specific place, community, or ethnic group.
Museums and gallery spaces are ‘key parts of the creative and cultural industries and institutions’, and can include museums and galleries at a national, state, regional and community scale, and ‘historic sites, botanic and zoological gardens, research centres, Indigenous cultural centres, and Keeping Places’.
Stories, art, heritage and history are collected, cared for and presented and are trusted institutions to tell Australian stories. The Australian Museums and Galleries Association (AMaGA) stated that museums and galleries are ‘central to wellbeing, identity, and maintaining social cohesion’ and ‘are critical contributors to national and regional economies’.
With more than 2,500 museums and galleries across Australia, museums are a key way that Australians encounter and engage with the arts and an important part of the arts ecosystem. Australia’s museums and galleries include:
the 22 state and national institutions;
the 250 or so public galleries and museums operated by local governments, both regional and metropolitan;
over 70 university-run art, historical, archaeological and science museums;
over 100 Indigenous art centres, mostly in remote regions; and
over 2,000 volunteer-run, community organisations acting as community anchors and custodians of Australia’s distributed national collection spread across regional and rural Australia.
In 2018-19, more than 10.6 million people had visited the national collecting institutions. ICOM Australia also noted that Australians are frequent visitors to museums:
A significant proportion of Australians engage with museums: according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), in 2017-18, 30% of Australian adults and 45% of Australian children had visited a museum at least once in the previous 12 months.
The important and multi-faceted role that museums play in large and small communities was noted by ICOM Australia, including the connections museums facilitate at a personal level:
The sector provides employment in communities large and small, in every corner of Australia, both as direct employers and indirectly through the broader visitor economy. Through providing opportunities for volunteering, museums are also an important source of community connection and wellbeing for many people, particularly older Australians. Museums are the life-blood of many small and remote communities, sustaining connections to culture, and building social meaning at a collective and individual level.
Warlayirti Artists outlined how important artistic centres are in Indigenous communities, beyond being a place to exhibit art:
We are a place for many languages, laws and culture to be expressed through paintings and stories, and for tradition to continue through that. It's not only an important cultural…healing and mental health space for communities. It's one of the few culturally relevant Aboriginal owned places within community, a place for elders and young people to come and be safe, to meditate, to heal and to work together.
Regional historical sites and organisations were put forward as important centres for bringing together volunteers and community members, and bringing direct and indirect economic benefits:
In rural and regional Australia, these organisations are likely to be of great significance through the contribution they make to the economy by facilitating heritage tourism via their museums, walking tours, signage, etc. The cities of Albany and Broome in WA and Port Fairy in Victoria are excellent examples, where historical society museums attract many thousands of visitors each year.
There are more than 1,200 community history and heritage associations across Australia, with more than 120,000 members and volunteers, which curate collections, undertake historical research and hold exhibitions to engage visitors. The Federation of Australian Historical Societies valued the cultural heritage work conducted by these associations at $150 million.
Shared Services between National Collecting Institutions
In 2016, the National Museum of Australia (NMA) established the Cultural and Corporate Shared Services Centre (CCSSC) as part of the NMA’s ‘capability and commitment to better utilise Commonwealth resources and build on the collaborative relationships that currently exist between the national collecting institutions’.
The CCSSC is a shared services centre which supports cultural and small corporate agencies within the Australian Public Service (APS), and was initially formed to support the Museum of Australian Democracy (MoAD). The CCSSC provides services to meet ‘the unique business requirements of cultural agencies’, and is intended to support the Commonwealth Government’s ‘commitment to a smaller, smarter and more productive and sustainable public sector’. CCSSC provides corporate services such as IT support, finance, payroll, records management and accessibility.
The NMA initially received $8.9 million in funding from the Public Service Modernisation Fund over three years to enable the other agencies to migrate to the CCSSC. The NMA outlined to the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories that benefits to participating agencies included: access to high quality services; compliance in areas such as security and records management; standardisation of enterprise resource planning platforms; and, aggregated purchasing power for contracts and services.
Centralising certain services allows agencies and institutions to refocus existing resources to where they are most needed, reducing duplication and enhancing collaboration. Agencies and shared services include: finance and payroll services for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), and MoAD’s payroll services.
In the 2019-20 financial year, the NMA delivered five additional services to agencies, and updated its digital asset management system (DAMS).
Australia’s screen sector is a major cultural industry, creating jobs, promoting Australia to international audiences and telling Australian stories. The creation of screen content draws in film and video production, post-production, broadcasters and channel providers, and also other art forms including ‘the performing arts, music and design’. Several organisations, such as Screen Australia, Ausfilm, and the Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF), play a significant role in supporting and promoting the work of Australia’s cultural industries both at home and abroad.
Screen Australia, the Commonwealth agency responsible for the screen production sector, set out the significance of the sector to the Australian labour market and economy:
The sector broadly spends about $3½ billion a year on production in places throughout Australia, employing approximately 31,000 people while contributing a total value-add of $5.3 billion to the economy. Downstream from this production activity is a raft of distribution channels and businesses. Just one, theatrical exhibition and distribution, is estimated to employ approximately 11,000 additional people.
Prior to the effects of COVID-19, the screen sector had been growing, with the sector’s value growing by 7.2 per cent from 2011-12 to 2015-16. Indirect economic impacts flowed from the screen sector’s consumption of goods and services:
Screen production requires extensive use of goods and services, including rental services, financial services and electricity. Productions book accommodation in towns, eat at local restaurants and film at Australian locations, including in regional and remote areas. For example, the first series of Mystery Road was shot in the Kimberley region in Western Australia and brought an estimated $5.8 million to the state.
Screen Australia funds the development and production of Australian drama, documentaries and content for children and supports projects for cinema, television and online environments. Screen Australia also administers the Producer Offset program and is the ‘competent authority for international official co-production’, and has a particular role in growing the sector:
We support the development of our screen industry—its people, projects and businesses—to promote the growth of screen culture in Australia and internationally through festivals, markets, events and outreach. Of particular note, our Indigenous department has supported Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander storytellers for more than 25 years, creating award-winning and critically acclaimed titles, from Redfern Now and Mystery Road to Total Control.
Screen Australia works with Ausfilm, the ACTF, public broadcasters and state and territory governments to provide funding to projects.
Ausfilm is a partnership between government and private industry, and includes the Commonwealth and state governments, ‘major studio complexes, production service providers and leading post, digital visual effects and sound/music studios’. Subscription fees from its 56 members fund the operation of Ausfilm, along with a grant from the Office for the Arts.
Ausfilm promotes the Australian film industry and the Governments’ incentive programs to overseas markets, with a particular focus on the United States of America. Ausfilm promotes the Commonwealth Government’s ‘Screen Production Incentive Scheme’, which includes the Location Offset, Post Digital & Visual Effects (PDV) Offset and Producer Offset. Ausfilm also promotes the:
…official Co Production Program and the various State government screen incentives on behalf of the Australian Government; diverse locations; sound stages; post-production and visual effects companies; and award-winning filmmaking talent. Ausfilm is the gateway for international filmmakers looking to film, post and/or co-produce in Australia.
The ACTF is a not-for-profit organisation ‘with a singular purpose to deliver quality screen content for children all over Australia, and all over the world’. The ACTF provides a number of services and support, including funding script development; capacity building for producers and emerging talent; investing in production; promotion, distribution and advocacy for children’s content; and developing education resources.
The Commonwealth Government contributed funding of $2.89 million, and state and territory governments contribute smaller amounts. Additional income comes from sales and distribution.
Australian children’s television content is sold around the world, and is a strong performer:
…children's television in particular is a real soft-diplomacy weapon for Australia, because our shows go to 120 countries around the world and people get to see the kinds of values Australia has and the kind of place Australia is. For Australian children themselves, and for the people who grew up watching children's television, these programs really are a nation-building national asset. We've had 30 years or more of focusing on children's content, and I think it's an unsung but really appreciated asset.
Australian children’s content has won major International awards and been distributed around the world. Children’s drama Hardball was noted as an example of a particularly successful Australian children’s drama winning a number of prestigious awards, including the Prix Jeunesse, Banff Rockie Award and an International Emmy Award. Hardball has been purchased by the BBC, as well as German, French and South African broadcasters.
The success story of children’s television show Bluey was highlighted by a number of inquiry participants. Bluey is funded by Screen Australia and Screen Queensland, was co-commissioned by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and is produced by Ludo Studio. Screen Australia drew attention to the international attention Bluey receives:
What's exciting about that is that Disney have taken that show, in America, and are actually playing it with an Australian voice track. That's the first time, to my knowledge—in my 30 years of working in global production and distribution—that an Australian kids' show has been played in America with an Australian voice, which is incredible. That's the point of difference for our content.
The sector was stated to function as an employer and training ground for practitioners. The ACTF referred to the role of children’s drama as a ‘talent accelerator’ and ‘talent escalator’ for crew and cast. Australian stars like Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie and Sean Keenan were highlighted as having started their careers in children’s drama.
The indirect economic benefits of Australian children’s content were also raised, with particular mention of the variety of regional and remote filming locations for Australian children’s television which benefit from productions taking place.
Box 2.2: MaveriX
MaveriX, a live-action children’s drama will be filmed in Alice Springs in 2021, bringing a film crew and cast to the area for a few months to complete the film shoot. The project was highlighted as supporting local businesses as well as creating traineeships and employment opportunities for the area.
Beyond the direct economic benefits of filming on location in regional Northern Territory, the area will be showcased in the production as a destination for future tourism when it is broadcast on ABC ME in Australia, and on Netflix around the world.
The ACTF stated that children’s content has a particularly long life as the target audience is new every few years, meaning the content can be shown repeatedly.
The value of Australian children seeing characters who look and sound like them and their families was highlighted as helping children learn that ‘stories like theirs are worth telling’. According to the ACTF, the ability of drama to allow a viewer to see experiences from another person’s perspective is linked to encouraging understanding and acceptance.
The educational role of Australian children’s content was also noted, and the ACTF set out its role in providing resources for teachers to help students understand the construction and themes in films, and develop literacy and creative skills by engaging with storytelling.
Australia as a Filming Location
Australian filming locations were stated to be drivers of domestic and international tourism, with Victoria’s Hepburn Shire (the location of Mad Max and Picnic at Hanging Rock) and Kettering and Bruny Island in Tasmania (The Kettering Incident) benefiting from extra visibility. Research conducted by Deloitte Access Economics found that 230,000 international tourists visit or extend their trip to Australia each year as a result of having seen Australian film and television content. Deloitte estimated that this generated $725 million in tourism expenditure.
Ausfilm noted the rise of ‘footloose’ productions (‘a production that does not take place in the jurisdiction from which it originated’) which make use of Australian filming locations:
…there is a significant amount of transnational production that occurs on an annual basis. The phenomenon of transnational production or what is also called “footloose” or “runaway” production is not new. For many decades producers have travelled to locations other than their home base and in the process employed local cast and crew and engaged local service providers.
Ausfilm was established ‘to market the locations, talent and incentives available to attract footloose filmmaking’ and has a subsidiary organisation, Ausfilm USA Inc., which is located in Los Angeles. Ausfilm estimated that ‘approximately $4.2 billion worth of international footloose location and Post, Digital and Visual Effects (PDV) spending has occurred in Australia in the last two decades’.
Although foreign production in Australia has grown, its growth has not been consistent. Ausfilm stated that Australia’s foreign production has not grown as consistently as other countries due to the Location Offset, which at 16.5 per cent, was ‘not competitive’. One-off top-ups have been granted by the Commonwealth Government, which top the offset up to 30 per cent to be more internationally attractive.
In 2018, $140 million was allocated to the Location Incentive Program by the Commonwealth Government to top the Location Offset up to 30 per cent for eligible large-scale international productions which film in Australia. In July 2020, the Commonwealth Government extended the program to 2026-27 and allocated a further $400 million. The program is expected to generate more than $4 billion in production. Ausfilm outlined some other benefits to this program:
This will now enable Australia to attract inward investment that could have gone to other locations around the world, but will instead [be] spent in Australia, employing thousands of Australians and providing work for production and post-production services companies; as well as flowing out into the wider economy to non-screen businesses that provide services and goods such as hospitality, timber for set construction, specialised ropes and cranes for rigging, freight, accommodation and transport to name a few.
Inquiry participants who work in the screen sector (as actors, content creators or writers) called for a greater focus on creating local productions which tell Australian stories, rather than importing international productions. One inquiry participant stated that local productions would be a better long-term plan for the screen sector:
…productions from abroad will only hire those already established in the industry. The odds of a young actor from Australia being hired or a relatively unknown young screenwriter having the opportunity to join these productions is very little.
Reforms to Screen Sector Policy
The ACTF drew attention to the Commonwealth Government response to the Supporting Australian Stories on Screen Options Paper, and stated that a number of reforms will be brought in, including:
Simplify existing regulations and provide greater flexibility for commercial broadcasters;
Reduce the expenditure requirement for subscription broadcasters;
Ask streaming services operating in Australia to report on their level of investment in Australian content;
Harmonise the Producer Offset for film and television production to 30 per cent;
Provide $30 million over 2 years in additional funding to Screen Australia from 1 July 2021 to invest in Australian film, drama, documentary and children’s content; and
Provide $20 million over 2 years in additional funding to the ACTF from 1 July 2021 to boost development, production and distribution of high quality Australian children’s content.
The ACTF also noted that it is ‘supported by interconnected policy levers which are currently in a state of transition and reform, in response to a rapidly changing viewing environment’.
Latrobe City Council suggested the creation of incentives for media and film production in regional areas that ‘attach traineeships for local creatives in partnership with Councils and higher education providers’.
Impact of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
COVID-19 had an enormous negative impact on the operation of the screen sector, with some effects felt immediately as productions were shut down and some felt over a longer timeframe:
Large-scale production was brought to a halt by COVID-19 as governments and industry quickly realised the risk posed to cast and crew. Some documentary and drama production forged ahead, but faced additional costs and disrupted timelines. Most postproduction, digital and visual effects (PDV), and animation services have been able to adapt and continue during the pandemic, but now face a shortage of work in future months due to the disrupted production pipeline and resourcing issues.
Screen Australia highlighted the work undertaken to support the industry in light of COVID-19’s devastating impact on the sector:
Of course, COVID-19 has drastically impacted the Australian screen sector. Our agency has provided a range of support measures during this time. We've worked with industry and government to create world-leading guidelines. We've contributed more than $2 million in funding to development. We contributed $1 million in emergency funding to productions forced to shut down and have since provided an additional $7.4 million to projects that could start again in a COVID-safe way. We've provided COVID-19 support to projects that have a combined budget of around $333 million. We're administering the Temporary Interruption Fund on behalf of the government, with 24 projects already approved for cover and 14 set to enter production in 2021.
The impact of COVID-19 on Australia’s creative and cultural industries and institutions is examined in further detail in the next chapter.
Australia’s literature industry is a major contributor to the arts in Australia, promoting Australian stories both within the country and abroad. These stories are often diverse, and include the works of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and marginalised communities. Alongside telling stories, the literature industry in Australia is closely connected to Australian schools, universities, libraries and literacy programs.
In the 2016-17 financial year, the cultural and creative economy was estimated to contribute $111.7 billion to the Australian economy. However, a report by A New Approach (ANA) argued that a more accurate understanding of the arts contribution to the Australian economy is through the GVA. Within the creative domains, literature and print media was found to be in the top four cultural production domains, generating $9.5 billion in GVA in 2016-17. Of the total GVA of culture and creative activity, literature, print and media was found to account for 10.9 per cent. In comparison, the remaining cultural production domains were found to generate considerably smaller GVA than literature and print media.
The Australia Council is the primary Commonwealth Government agency for the literature industry in Australia. The Australia Council predominantly supports writers through grants provided directly to writers, as well as the publishing industry. Additionally, the Australia Council offers grants to programs and organisations that assist in the development of writer’s skills, professional development, and presentation of work.
Decreases in funding for the Australia Council were noted by inquiry participants. Mr Nick Earls stated that:
While author incomes have been falling long before COVID-19, federal government support for authors and their incomes has been falling too. Australia Council funding for literature has decreased 44 per cent since 2013. While CAL [Copyright Agency Limited] and some other non-government grants have emerged, they have not made up the shortfall, and nor should they have to, as government should remain willingly and significantly involved.
Ms Sophie Cunningham, who served as the Chair of the Literature Board of the Australian Council from 2012-2014, stated that much of this decrease is due to the abolition of literature programs such as Get Reading, Books Alive and the Book Council.
Shortages of funding were stated to contribute to financial pressure felt by writers. A number of inquiry participants referred to a figure of just under $13,000 per annum as the annual income for writers and illustrators, ‘the lowest income in the arts sector’. Dr Charlotte Wood stated that this figure may actually be too high:
On average the literary writer’s income is not the widely quoted $13,000 a year, but $4,000 a year from their books, which of course means we need other work to survive. That work is piecemeal, freelance, poorly paid, and very unstable… Australia Council funding for literature has fallen 44 per cent in the last six years, and literature receives less than half the money the Australia Council gives to other art forms.
Other inquiry participants also commented on the importance of early career grants, stating it afforded them the time and freedom to explore various styles and genres of writing, while also giving them sense of confidence. Acclaimed Australian author Helen Garner stated that: ‘It was the greatest gift that I’ve ever received. It gave me two things. It gave me time, and it gave me the sense of being trusted.’
The essential nature of grants provided by the Australia Council was also highlighted as a way for new writers to be able to pursue their careers in authorship. Christos Tsiolkas, the award winning Australian author, stated that:
I know that if it wasn’t for a grant from the Australia Council that I received during the writing of my third novel, and if it hadn’t been for the championing of my work by Australian literary festivals and publishers, I might have very easily given up. It is hard to maintain the discipline and labour of being a writer when you need to work, pay the rent or a mortgage. My partner and I don’t have children. If we did, the stakes would have been even higher.
Inquiry participants highlighted the integral nature of literature in Australia, and the importance of supporting the Australian literature community. Dr Charlotte Wood highlights that writers and authors are directly linked with a range of arts, advocating its significance:
We can be considered primary producers for many diverse forms of the creative arts, from books to films, theatre, opera, television, games and other ‘products’.
Alongside this, inquiry participants also advocated for the ability of literature to assist in community-building, emphasising its positive effect on social cohesion, social wellbeing, and the promotion of mental health. Others highlighted the educational importance of literature in Australia, citing its benefit in improving literacy and numeracy.
The importance of Australian literature for its contribution towards enriching Australian society was also advocated, as opposed to just its monetary value:
A thriving literary sector, which I think we all want, is one that can support poets, experimental writers, critics, essayist, romance novelists and the many, many writers whose books will never sell big or win prizes but whose work, nonetheless, enriches and expands our shared culture.
Diversity within the literature sector, especially the promotion of stories by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors, was highlighted. Ms Lucas-Pennington, Ms Allanah Hunt, and Ms McGaughey, who are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander literary practitioners, commented on the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander storytelling:
First Nations writing is an impactful and fast-growing sector of the publishing industry in Australia and, while engaging readers and writers across the country and internationally, needs more financial support.
Further, books by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors are consistently underrepresented in the Australian literary scene. Mr Tsiolkas commented that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories are uniquely Australian and therefore require the specific support of the Australian literature industry:
In these last twenty years it has been thrilling to read the works of writers such as Alexis Wright, telling Indigenous Australia stories in a distinctly new voice that also owes its song to a history that stretches back into the millennia. American publishers and the UK government are never going to fund the initial grants and residencies that assisted writers like Alexis to nurture and explore her craft. That is our nation’s work.
The essential nature of community organisations in the writing community was identified for their ability to develop writers’ skills and advocate for their interests. These include organisations such as the Australian Society of Authors, Writers WA, Writers Victoria, Writing SA, Writing NT, Writing SA, and the Australian Young Adult Literature Alliance. Such organisations were credited with providing a network of support for new and emerging writers, providing mentors and linking them into a community. Mr Tsiolkas, among others, stated that these organisations are under-resourced: ‘That infrastructure is really, really threadbare at the moment’.
As with many Australian industries, the literature industry was not immune to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the increase in individuals turning to literature during this time. Outside of an income from book sales, it was raised that the major income streams for writers were considerably affected due to the pandemic, with Dr Charlotte Wood noting:
COVID is destroying the livelihoods of writers in many ways, through the loss of their day jobs in lots of cases, but also by eviscerating three major income streams from writers outside of their books, which are public speaking, university teaching and freelance writing.
JobKeeper was highlighted as an Australian Government initiative assisting writers during the COVID-19 pandemic, however this was noted as mostly applying to a writer’s day job, and not to their writing-related work. This included those who worked in teaching positions in universities and within creative writing schools, which was stated to be a major income stream for writers. However, due to these staff losing their jobs within the universities, it was stated that JobKeeper was unavailable to these individuals, leaving authors and writers without financial support.
The music industry in Australia is expansive, and accounts for a range of artists and genres. The Australian music industry consists of live music, the performing arts, radio, screen content, music composition and publishing, and gigging in clubs and pubs. It also boasts a large network of teachers, youth groups and ensembles, and a strong community network.
According to research undertaken by ANA, the performing arts and music composition and publishing accounts for a combined 2.3 per cent of the total GVA of the cultural and creative industries. However, the music industry is intrinsically entwined with a range of other creative industries, including broadcasting, digital media, film, and supporting activities, and arts education.
With too many to mention, Australia has a long history of globally successful artists such as AC/DC, Kylie Minogue, Keith Urban, For King & Country, Bee Gees, Little River Band, Air Supply, Men at Work, Helen Reddy, Natalie Imbruglia, Midnight Oil, The Seekers, Savage Garden, Rick Springfield, The Vines, The Divinyls, INXS, Olivia Newton-John, and Slim Dusty.
More recently Australian musicians and artists have distinguished themselves at home and abroad. Antonio Gambale, an Australian screen composer, was nominated for two Emmy awards; Sia, Gotye, Courtney Barnett, Vance Joy, Rufus du Sol, 5 Seconds of Summer, Alex Lahey, Alison Wonderland, Middle Kids, Tash Sultana, Dean Lewis, Amy Shark, Stella Donnelly, Troye Sivan, PNAU, Flume, and Gand of Youths, to name a few, are writing, recording, and appearing on global stages and screens; Tones and I’s hit single Dance Monkey topped the UK singles chart for 11 weeks, was top of the charts in 20 territories, and top-five in the US; 5 Seconds of Summer's first three albums all charted at No. 1 in the US, a feat never achieved before by an Australian group; Flume and the Australian Chamber Orchestra win Grammys; improvising jazz trio The Necks are named the best band in the world by the New York Times; Tina Arena was awarded a ‘Chevalier des Arts’ by France; and Tame Impala were awarded Best International Group at the Brit Awards in the United Kingdom.
First Nations artists such as Kid Laroi, Birdz, Jessica Mauboy, Electric Fields, Ursula Yovich, Thelma Plum, Baker Boy, Kaleena Briggs, Kev Carmody, Troy Cassar-Daley, Leah Flanagan, Warumpi Band, Alice Skye, Gurrumul, Archie Roach, Tasman Keith, Bunna Lawrie, No Fixed Address, Dan Sultan, and Yothu Yindi are producing music across all genres from reggae, pop, rock, folk, country, jazz, soul, rap and classical and garnering international acclaim.
Music makes a significant contribution to the Australia economy. Our artists, songwriters, and bands are household names globally ‘across a diversity of genres, succeeding on the international stage than ever before.’
The Australasian Performing Rights Association and Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (APRA AMCOS), highlighted the value of the Australian music industry:
more than half of the population attends live music with every dollar spent on live music in Australia, three dollars’ worth of benefits are returned to the wider Australian community;
one in seven Australians make music and over 40,000 Australian songwriters were paid royalties for their works last year;
at the Sounds Australia & Australia House industry market at South By Southwest (SXSW) in early 2019, there were 54 Australian artists in market;
over the last five years, APRA AMCOS’ foreign revenue generated from the performance of Australian music overseas has doubled; and
there are now more Australian music artists, across a diversity of genres, succeeding on the international stage than ever before.
Ernst and Young’s 2020 report, The economic contribution of Australia’s Live Entertainment Industry, noted that in particular, the Live Entertainment Industry contributed an estimated $36.5 billion to Australia’s economy in 2019.’ They added that in 2019, live performance (contemporary music and contemporary music festivals) and venue-based live music (all venue based live music events) contributed:
34 per cent of the live entertainment industry total economic output in 2019, contributing approximately $12.5 billion to the Australian economy; with
approximately 42,066 total jobs across the sector in 2019, with total industry value add estimated at $5.7 billion.
However, like many other sectors, the live entertainment industry was heavily impacted by the pandemic. The report’s analysis estimated:
…that the total economic output from live music shows and events is estimated to fall by $10.8bn from 2019 to the end of 2020. Total jobs that could be lost is estimated at 36,194 by the end of 2020, with industry value add estimated to fall by $4.9bn over the same period.
Music streaming was able to provide a supplementary revenue stream to artists during this time, becoming the largest driver of industry revenues. PriceWaterhouseCoopers in its Australian Entertainment & Media Outlook 2020-2024 noted:
Music-streaming has become the pumping heart of the industry, and as COVID-19 continues to drive an acceleration in digital behaviours, it has become a vital pillar to defend revenues in the sector throughout 2020. As of June 2020, Spotify has accumulated 138 million subscribers globally, with monthly active users up to 299 million, having increased subscription penetration in all regions.
In 2015 revenue related to the digital distribution of music (including downloads and consumer spend on music streaming services) came in at A$336m. That figure had risen to A$882m in 2019, and is expected to surge to A$1.44b by 2024, with a forecast of 10.31 percent CAGR [compound annual growth rate].
The Australian Government provides $27.5 million in funding to support Australia's music industry through the Australian Music Industry Package. The package includes:
The Live Music Australia program provides grant funding of $20 million over four years, from 2020–21, to enable Australian businesses to host more Australian live music events featuring home grown artists.
The Women in Music Mentor program, provides $2 million over four years from 2019–20, for mentorship programs and professional training. The Women in Music Mentor program is being delivered by the Australian Independent Record Labels Association(AIR).
The Indigenous Contemporary Music program provides $2 million over four years from 2019–20, to establish a national development program for Indigenous musicians and bands.
Additional funding of $2 million over four years from 2019–20, for the Contemporary Music Touring Program administered by the Australia Council, which funds Australian musicians to perform their own work on tour in Australia, with a priority on regional and remote locations.
Funding of $1.5 million over four years from 2019–20 for Sounds Australia to enable the Australian music industry to capitalise on emerging markets, including in Asia.
Digital Media, including Video Games
The video game industry is one of the fastest-growing arts sectors having surpassed movies, television, and video on demand services to becoming the biggest earning media sector globally. The Australian gaming sector has found success in both the local and overseas markets, demonstrating a competitive advantage in game development. Video game development can be classified as both a creative and technological industry, and video game developers are recognised as having highly transferrable skills within the arts, technology, design and commerce sectors.
The Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA) commented on the diverse workforce involved in developing games, stating that:
Game development relies on and develops talent in almost all creative disciplines, from screen and visual arts, to music and sound, and writing and design. The making of video games requires almost every kind of artistic input and arguably involves more artists and creative practitioners than any other medium.
Australian-made video games were identified as providing an opportunity to express uniquely Australian or iconic stories, or by setting them in an Australian landscape. The IGEA highlighted the game Storm Boy by Blowfish Studio, which is based on the classic Australian story by Colin Thiele about a boy and his pelican, as well as the second instalment of the official Australian Open video game series (AO Tennis 2), created by the Melbourne-based Big Ant Studios, as two video games that achieve this.
The benefits of video games outside of entertainment value were raised by inquiry participants. Benefits included video games for education; assisting with dementia; reducing obesity; and assisting injury rehabilitation. Further benefits include assisting in delivering novel approaches to police training; mental health; and anti-family violence initiatives.
Mr Benjamin Cronshaw advocated the long-term educational value of video games, in encouraging young people to learn and develop a range of interests:
I learnt much of my historical knowledge and gained an interest in history and geography through playing the Ages of Empires and Total War series. I am now completing my Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Ancient World Studies.
According to the IGEA 2020 Australian Game Development Survey, the Australian game development industry employed 1,245 people, and earned $184.6 million in revenue in 2020. This is a 29 per cent increase in revenue since 2019, with 87 per cent of total revenue coming from overseas markets.
However, IGEA also noted that in 2018-19, of every $100 earned by the global video game industry, only 5 cents was earned by Australian developers. Further, IGEA drew attention to the small size of the Australian video game industry, highlighting that both the United Kingdom and Canada have industries that are ten times the size of the Australian industry.
Unlike others in the arts industry, IGEA stated that the video game sector in Australia was minimally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, IGEA highlighted a higher demand for the video games during the pandemic:
The popularity of video games surged in Australia and the world as people sought out games as a crucial way to stay positive, occupied and connected to their family and friends during isolation.
IGEA noted that, although there was still some harm to the video game sector, game development remained largely resilient to the pandemic. IGEA explained that this is largely due to the digital nature of game development work, with most able to work remotely and some expanding their market during this time. ‘Unlike virtually all non-essential sectors of our economy, many Australian game development studios were hiring – not firing – during COVID’. IGEA noted that new, emerging and growth-focused studios were more at risk during the pandemic.
Despite its relative success during the pandemic, and its consistent growth as an industry, inquiry participants raised concern regarding a lack of government funding in the video games industry. IGEA highlighted that game development is the only area of the arts that does not receive funding or support from the Commonwealth Government, unlike its overseas counterparts:
Australia is one of the only advanced economies in the world that offers no federal funding or production incentives for video game developers…video game development is the only part of the Australian creative and cultural sector that is not provided with, or able to access any federal arts support.
IGEA suggested that this lack of funding may be causing the small size of the Australian game development industry, despite the high level of skill game developers in Australia possess:
This is the reason why the Australian game development industry is less than a tenth of the size of the same industry in either Canada or the UK and earns less revenue than even New Zealand’s games sector.
To increase Australia’s competitiveness on the international game development market, inquiry participants put forward the idea of tax offsets for the industry. Such an initiative was recently announced by the South Australian Government, which enables video game studios to claim a 10 per cent rebate on costs incurred to develop a game in South Australia, the first policy of its kind in Australia.
IGEA explained that federal tax offsets, alongside federal grant funding to the sector, would allow the Australian game development industry to become more competitive in the global market, whilst allowing individuals in the sector to stay in Australia, instead of moving overseas. IGEA asserted that this would significantly change the game development industry.
Grant funding gives our emerging talent the best chance to succeed and stay in Australia, while a tax offset in particular will level the global playing field and act as a lightning rod for investment.
In the 2021-22 budget, the Commonwealth Government announced the Digital Games Tax Offset. This initiative offers a 30 per cent refundable tax offset for eligible businesses that spend a minimum of $500,000 on qualifying Australian games expenditure. The Commonwealth Government stated that qualifying criteria would be defined in consultation with the game development industry.
Commonwealth Government Support
The Australian Government supports creative and cultural industries through the Office for the Arts, which sits within the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, and through the Australia Council.
The Office for the Arts develops policies and programs to support the arts and culture by working closely with its portfolio agencies: the Australian Council for the Arts, Screen Australia and Creative Partnerships Australia.
The Office for the Arts’ programs and policies encourage ‘excellence in the arts, help to protect our cultural heritage and support public access to and participation in, arts and culture in Australia’. Key arts support mechanisms include:
the Australian Screen Production Incentive, which includes a 30 per cent rebate for eligible television and film content;
the Resale Royalty Scheme, which entitles visual artists to a payment of 5 per cent of resale price for eligible works;
the Public Lending Right and Educational Lending Right schemes, which compensates eligible Australian book creators and publishers for lost income resulting from their books being freely available in libraries;
Prime Minister’s Literary Awards: up to $100,000 is awarded in each category, with $80,000 for each winner and $5,000 each for shortlisted entries. All prizes are tax-free;
Cultural Gifts Program, which aims to encourage people and organisations to donate cultural items to eligible organisations;
Artbank, a collection of over 10,800 pieces of Australian artwork owned by the Australian Government and leased out to individuals, companies, all levels of government and Australian embassies.
The Office of the Arts can draw on the BCAR for research on trends, developments, and issues in the sector.
Another important function of the Office for the Arts is its Indigenous Repatriation program, which works to facilitate the repatriation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestral remains and sacred objects from overseas and domestic museums, universities and private collections.
The Australia Council is the principal arts funding, advisory and development body, supporting ‘all facets of the creative process’ and investing in ‘activity that directly and powerfully contributes to Australia’s creative and cultural industries’.
State and Territory Government Support
State and Territory Governments have responsibility for a range of cross-sectoral arts and cultural policies and programs, with each jurisdiction supporting their own arts and cultural agencies or departments, galleries and libraries.
The Tasmanian, South Australian, New South Wales, Western Australian, Northern Territory, Queensland and Australian Capital Territory Governments all have current creative and cultural strategies, with duration of plans ranging from a 4 year plan in South Australia, through to an undetermined duration of time in some jurisdictions. Presently, Victoria’s ‘Creative State 2021-25’ is under development.
The Western Australian Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries has taken steps to support cultural and creative spaces through its development of the ‘Western Australian Cultural Infrastructure Map’, which maps cultural infrastructure, including ‘buildings, places, spaces and technology necessary for arts and cultural education’. Another arts map which operates nationally is the Live Music Office’s national ‘Live Music Map’. Developed in conjunction with South Australia’s Music Development Office, it hosts a compilation of venues, music organisations, promoters, recording studios, and radio (amongst others) in an interactive map which assists bands and managers when planning tours.
Symphony Services Australia put forward a ‘Cultural Tourism Map and curating activities for local audiences and ‘travel bubble’ target markets’ as an avenue to unlock ‘Australia’s creative and cultural potential’.
Notably, in addition to the Commonwealth Government’s COVID regulations, all State and Territory Governments coordinate their response to the public health emergency, and apply regulations pertaining to social distancing, venue capacity, and restrictions for the holding of festivals, events, and live performances.
Local Government Support
Local Governments play an increasingly important role in community art and cultural activities. The Australian Local Government Association’s (ALGA) has coverage of every jurisdiction in Australia except the Australian Capital Territory which does not have a local government. ALGA outlined its structure of representation for the 537 local governments across Australia, and how:
…local governments play a critically important role in amenity, shaping ‘places’ in which people live and work. Many councils also have community cultural development embedded into their corporate and strategic documents.
The Gold Coast cultural precinct ‘Home of the Arts (HOTA)’ hosts live music, theatre, dance, comedy, opera, children’s shows and more, and is the largest public gallery outside a capital city in Australia. HOTA opened in May 2021, and received funding from the City of Gold Coast. The City of Gold Coast’s masterplan for the precinct ‘could include new and refurbished arts facilities, the great terrace, and completion of the outdoor artscape works’.
Brimbank City Council highlighted the importance of Local Government in the delivery of creative and cultural activities, ‘to act in unison, federal, state and local government cultural and creative policies need to talk to each other and be compatible’. Brimbank City Council was of the view that shared financial contributions to the arts between layers of government is imperative, and put forward regular consultation ‘with representatives across the local government sector on policy developments’ as a recommendation.
Regional Arts Australia drew attention to the ‘front face’ of local government, and their ‘significant connection to the performing arts centres and to the galleries’ across Australia:
Our colleagues at Performing Arts Centres Australia have done a lot of research and connection in this space where we see that local government owns about 80 per cent of the performing arts centres and directly manages 66 per cent of them.
Regional and Public Galleries of New South Wales (RPGNSW) noted that the majority of RPGNSW’s members are local government entities, and explained the significant role Local Government plays in public gallery funding arrangements across NSW:
…46 per cent local government funding, 13 per cent state government funding, one per cent Australia Council for the Arts funding and less than one per cent other federal funding. On average, commercial income and philanthropy offsets 37 per cent of the running costs of these public galleries.
Over the past decade the per capita cultural expenditure has increased by 11 per cent, with ANA noting that:
…the steady and sustained increase in per capita expenditure suggests local governments are seeing the relevance and benefit of creative and cultural activities in the communities they serve.
Creative Economy considered there to be significant disparity in the capacity of Local Governments to invest in arts and culture, finding that increases in investment are ‘mainly in the large metropolitan areas’:
If we leave it only to a local government level, we have inequity in terms of access to cultural and creative industries. There is inequity in the development of that.
The Cultural Development Network (CDN) put forward the ‘National Local Government Cultural Forum’, which operated from 2013 – 2018, as a cost-effective model for national cooperation and agenda setting. This forum, convened by the CDN, was supported by the Office for the Arts, the Australia Council, the ALGA and Australia’s eight capital cities. The CDN stated:
The Cultural Forum became the clearing house for research and development on national planning and evaluation frameworks for the creative and cultural industries, which are now carried forward into the sector.
Coordination Between Layers of Government
Local, State and Territory Governments and Commonwealth Governments all make contributions towards cultural expenditure, together contributing ‘more than $6.86 billion of public funds to arts and culture each year.’
ANA found that from 2007-08 to 2017-18 there have been significant changes to the sources of cultural public funding, with local government playing an increasingly important role:
In that period, local government per capita expenditure has increased by 11%, while state and territory government expenditure has increased by 3.9%. The federal government is committing 18.9 per cent less expenditure per capita to culture compared with a decade ago.
Source: A New Approach, Submission 131, p. 17.
Coordination between layers of government has previously occurred through mechanisms such as the Meeting of Cultural Ministers (MCM). National Cabinet accepted recommendations to disband this meeting on 23 October 2020, with Cultural Ministers indicating that they will continue to meet informally. The Review of COAG Councils and Ministerial Forums noted that:
It is important to recognise the diversity between and within jurisdictions and the disparate nature of the challenges faced across the federation–where appropriate, decisions should be principles-based and allow individual jurisdictions to determine the best way to achieve agreed outcomes.
Creative Victoria identified the review of the MCM as holding potential ‘impetus for a common approach and agenda’ while Create NSW noted that Cultural Ministers resolved to continue to work collaboratively following the dissolution of the MCM, with particular focus on:
First Nations arts and culture
Culturally and linguistically diverse arts and culture
Children and young people’s arts and culture
The Digital Culture Strategy
Cultural research and data collections.
As the announcement of the disbandment of the MCM occurred shortly after the close date for submissions to this inquiry, some inquiry participants’ views proposed an expansion of to the MCM. Professor Julian Meyrick suggested the MCM as an avenue for ‘more active and bipartisan’ communications across jurisdictions with suggestions of an expanded meeting. The Design Institute of Australia proposed that a representative of the ALGA ‘should be given full membership on the group in recognition of the importance of local government planning decisions on the work of designers’.
ALGA made the point that access to ‘[l]ocal programs and opportunities’ is ‘greatly enhanced’ through collaboration between all levels of government and the private sector.
Theatre Kimberley put forward a cultural policy map as a potential avenue to facilitate clear information, guidance and direction on the mandate of different groups and levels of government:
Australia would benefit from having an Australia-wide Arts and Culture policy presented in clear, accessible language and info graphics. Each layer of Governments’ role and responsibilities could be clearly listed and publicly available. Existing Arts organisations (of all sizes) and information about each could be included and searched by discipline and/or location. Together these could provide an Australian Arts and Culture comprehensive map of what exists, their mandate and opportunities that may exist. Gaps in disciplines, communities excluded or with specific needs, and community preferences, would be clearly identified, and strategies could be developed to address these, and funding made available to implement agreed activities.
Also in favour, Ms Esther Anatolitis suggested that the Productivity Commission conduct a ‘review or industry mapping to understand the full scope and scale of the creative and cultural industries’.
The Australia Council for the Arts offers online ‘Electorate Profiles’ in which a federal electoral division can be selected to discover the level of engagement in that electorate, and the number of individuals working in the arts.
In discussing how a new national conversation around arts and culture could take place, Professor David Throsby advocated for coordination across all levels of government in their response to the arts and culture, suggesting that this ‘larger framework is a cultural policy statement or a cultural policy framework which can be articulated by the centre’. Also in favour, Professor Julian Meyrick called for ‘better coordination’ through ‘some kind of coordinated cultural plan’.
TAFE NSW considered there to be a need for more formal consultation in the development of arts policy, and put forward:
Regular round table representatives from local, state and federal agencies to collaborate and identify projects and outcomes, together with think tank opportunities would be well served by the creation of a Federal/ State steering committee for the arts.
Private sector support and involvement with the arts from individuals and private business is substantial; funding for the arts is estimated to have grown ‘from $221.1 million in 2009-10 to between $268.5 million and $279.8 million in 2015–16’, with funding also growing in real terms over the past six years.
Private support includes donations, investment, partnerships and volunteering, with Creative Partnerships Australia presenting one mechanism to achieve this. Creative Partnerships Australia is the Australian Government’s agency dedicated to promoting private giving and investment in the creative and cultural sectors, and builds capacity amongst the arts community to fundraise and develop their income streams. Ms Fiona Menzies of Creative Partnerships Australia outlined the motivations for private donations to the arts:
…there's a very clear impact of supporting these projects in a range of areas, from education to a more socially cohesive country, a happier country, a richer country. Those are the impacts that private donors and business supporters of the arts are trying to achieve, and they do like to do it in partnership with government.
The importance of private sector funding was advocated in conjunction with the three tiers of government.
Local programs and opportunities to participate and engage arts and culture are greatly enhanced by arts and cultural programs provided by states and territories, the Commonwealth and the private sector.
The City of Sydney suggested the Committee:
Initiate and/or invest in public-private partnerships to provide innovative finance models and collaborative investment in cultural infrastructure for production and presentation.
ANA identified collaboration and cohesive policies across levels of government as an inhibitor to growth of private investment in creative and cultural spaces:
One of the things that we are hearing is frustration at a national level over the lack of a contemporary approach, with updated policies and a connected set of investments across government. That would create confidence in philanthropic investment into this space.
One participant stated that they had turned to private funding, and suggested that Screen Australia host a list of not-for-profits and institutions that accept submissions for private funding to ease the financial burden on the government to provide funding for screen content.
The effective delivery and support of the arts across Australia is fundamental to the arts ecosystem. The Committee notes the important role that the Office for the Arts has in working with layers of Government and the private sector to improve Australia’s collective cultural and arts ambitions. The Committee also notes that despite its important role, the Office for the Arts is no longer elevated to the title level of the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.
The Committee considers that, in order to ensure the important role of the Office of the Arts is appropriately emphasised, the title of the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications should be amended to include the Arts.
Developing a cohesive forum for discussion and collaboration across layers of Government and private sector presents opportunities to better achieve Australia’s collective cultural and arts ambitions. The Committee notes the existence of different forms of art ‘maps’ which exist at local and national scales, including the Live Music Office Live Music Map. This type of data collation is a valuable resource for the community to engage with the arts by attending a performance and supporting local or touring musicians. The Committee considers that a map of Australia’s creative undertakings, including performances, installations, galleries and other forms of artistic expression would be of great value to the community. As noted above, international tourists are seeking out Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visual arts and experiences as well as visiting filming locations as they holiday or travel to other Australian regions. An Australia-wide arts and culture map would encourage Australians to explore their local area, or have new artistic experiences, as well as attract international visitors to experience our unique and incredible land and culture.
The video game industry is one of the fastest growing arts sectors globally. Australia is currently growing its development capabilities and has seen significant success globally with games like Crossy Road from Melbourne studio Hipster Whale. The Australian Government has acknowledged the significant potential of the game industry and announced its support with the Digital Games Tax Offset – a 30 per cent refundable tax offset for eligible businesses that spend a minimum of $500,000 on qualifying Australian games expenditure. The Committee notes and strongly endorses the tax offset. The Committee wants to ensure the implementation of the tax offset is supporting the industry and has recommended that the Government provide a progress report to the Committee twelve months from its commencement.
The Australian Government provides compensation to Australian creators and publishers in recognition of income lost through free multiple use of their books in public and educational lending libraries through the Public Lending Right and Educational Lending Right programs. It is unclear, however, whether the appropriate level of compensation is currently provided, particularly for digital editions. Books can be potentially loaned up to thousands of times and digital copies exponentially more. It is important to provide some certainty that Australian authors are being appropriately compensated for their work. The Committee therefore recommends that these programs be reviewed.
Supporting Indigenous Art
The lack of a national gallery dedicated to Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists is a gap in the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture. For the only art truly unique to this country, this deserves consideration and greater recognition. An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander national gallery would serve to highlight the work of Australia’s Indigenous artists throughout the long history of its creation and through to contemporary and emerging artists.
An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander national gallery would be an important platform for domestic and international audiences, and reinforce the intrinsic value of this art. The new gallery should be focussed on supporting Indigenous artists; particularly through employment and artistic direction, in order to ensure that the art is presented authentically and in a culturally appropriate manner.
The Committee also notes the recommendation of the Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs in its report on the inquiry into the impact of inauthentic art and craft in the styles of First Nations peoples ‘that IP Australia develops a Certification Trade Mark scheme for authentic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and craft, created in full consultation with relevant stakeholders’. The Committee supports that recommendation, and reiterates it in this report.
The Committee recommends that the Office for the Arts investigate the establishment of a national centre of Indigenous culture and arts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artwork. The Office for the Arts should ensure that any proposal is co-designed with Indigenous communities and arts bodies.
As part of the co-design process, the Office for the Arts should consider the most culturally appropriate site on which to build a national centre of Indigenous culture and arts; how to create a national network of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander galleries in partnership with State/Territory art institutions; and examine how museums and galleries can further improve Indigenous representation and participation across all areas.
The Committee recommends the title of the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications be amended to include the Arts.
The Committee recommends that the Office for the Arts consider what resourcing or data would be required to create an app which contains a repository of information of current artistic and cultural events.
The Committee further recommends that the Office for the Arts consult with Tourism Australia, and State and Territory Government peak bodies and other industry-relevant entities.
The Committee recognises the enormous potential of the interactive games sector for Australia and welcomes the implementation of the Digital Games Tax Offset. The Committee recommends that the relevant Commonwealth Minister report to the Committee on progress 12 months from the commencement of the offset.
The Committee notes that the Public Lending Right and Educational Lending Right (PLR/ELR) each attract a single payment and recommends that the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications undertake a review of the PLR/ELR programs to ensure that authors are being appropriately compensated for income lost through free multiple use of their books in public and educational lending libraries.
The Committee further recommends that the Department consult with peak bodies, Australasian Performing Right Association and Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (APRA AMCOS), authors, and other industry-relevant entities.
The Committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government introduce legislation that requires over-the-top (OTT) media services (streaming and video/subscription video on demand services) to allocate at least 20 per cent of their local revenue on new Australian drama, documentary, children’s content, commissions, co-productions or acquisitions of content.
The new legislation should also prescribe that OTT services allocate at least 20 per cent of the 20 per cent quota to local children's content and drama.