Government Releases Cultural Policy


The government released its National Cultural Policy, Creative Australia, on 13 March.

The policy is an outcome of the Government’s 2020 summit in 2008, and the first national cultural policy since Creative Nation in 2004.

The policy sets out five goals covering covering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; cultural diversity; the central role of the artist; the contribution of the cultural sector to Australian society and the economy; and support for Australian creativity here and abroad, particularly in the digital environment.

The policy also sets out three themes for action:

  1. modernising funding and support
  2. career pathways, cultural leadership skills and expertise
  3. connect to national life for a social and economic dividend

The first covers significant additional funding for the Australia Council for the Arts, and clarification of what is funded by the Australia Council and what by the Office of the Arts. The changes reflect the government’s acceptance of recommendations following a review of the Australia Council in 2012.

The policy also provides additional funding to Creative Partnerships Australia, formed in January 2013 from an amalgamation of the Australian Business Arts Foundation (ABF) and Artsupport, following a review of private sector funding for the arts. The funding will enable programs based on micro-loans, crowd sourcing and matched funding.

The policy makes some references to the PwC report, The Economic Contribution of Australia’s Copyright Industries, commissioned by the Australian Copyright Council and launched in 2012.

It also makes some references to the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) inquiry into copyright and the digital economy, which it says:

… recognises the role that Australian copyright plays as the primary legal framework supporting the creative economy. This inquiry, led by Professor Jill McKeough, is designed to ensure Australian copyright law continues to provide incentives for investment in innovation and content in a digital environment, while balancing the need to allow the appropriate use of both Australian and international content.

It also says:

Australian artists and those who invest in them will continue to embrace new technologies, to find ways to communicate with their audiences and to expand Australia’s cultural landscape. However, as they do this they need to know their work will be respected and protected and that there are adequate protections in place to allow them to be rewarded for their creative output. The current framework must be changed to ensure artists, and those who invest in them, are given the tools to protect content from unauthorised use.

The Government will work with key industry organisations and leaders to build business models around reward for creative production accessed through digital platforms.

The policy has been generally welcomed by our members, although not all issues raised by them and their representatives have been addressed. The National Association for the Visual Arts, for example, has welcomed the policy but expressed some disappointment about the omission of some key matters for visual artists. And export development, a key area, is referred to, but not given the priority some had hoped for.


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