For the first time in a generation, the arts are claiming space in the lead-up to a federal election. While ‘jobs and growth’ and ‘putting people first’ are dominating the debate, after 18 months of cuts, despair and confusion the arts community is coming together and calling for our voices to be heard.
On 2 July 2016, the Federal Election will be held. This election is an opportunity to put arts on the political agenda.
In the lead-up to the election, find the candidates running in your seat. They’ll be at shopping malls, community events or may even knock on your door. Let them know what you think the future of the arts in Australia should be and how the changes in the last 18 months have impacted your practice.
On 8 June Artspeak, the long-standing network for arts-focused service organisations and peak bodies, convened an election debate with representatives from the Liberals, ALP and Greens. Minister Mitch Fifield, Liberal Senator for Victoria, was joined by Mark Dreyfus QC MP, Labor Shadow Minister for the Arts and Adam Bandt MP, Greens spokesperson for the Arts.
The debate allowed each party to present some of its vision for arts and culture in Australia and respond to key questions from the community. It was pleasing to hear that all representatives support the independence and standing of the Australia Council for the Arts, all were interested in there being a cultural policy for Australia, and most importantly all spoke passionately about the intrinsic value of the arts—the important place they have in building and reflecting society.
Both Dreyfus and Bandt spoke to their party’s detailed policies and promised to invest funds into the Australia Council and artists. However, Minister Fifield was not able to speak to a Liberal policy document and noted that the government’s ‘jobs and growth’ strategy was to apply across all sectors of the community and that he wanted to see the arts central to the innovation agenda.
Watch the ArtsPeak Debate.
Media wrap-up of the debate
- Memo to the Coalition: don’t come to an arts policy debate without an arts policy, by Ben Eltham, 9 June 2016.
- Does the Coalition have a cultural policy? None that you'd know of after National Arts Election Debate, by Debbie Cuthbertson, Sydney Morning Herald, 8 June 2016.
- Liberals slammed for lack of vision at arts election debate, by Ben Neutze, 8 June 2016.
- Labor steals a march on the arts, by Sasha Grishin, 9 June 2016.
Statements from Australian dance companies
Arts day of action—17 June 2016
Following the success of ArtsPeak’s election debate in Melbourne, we invite you to be involved in a new lobbying strategy in the lead-up to the federal election—an Arts Day of Action on 17 June.
- The arts industry employs more people than agriculture, construction or mining, and generates $50 billion for the Australian economy.
- Independent artists and organisations are the backbone of arts in Australia, generating new ideas and new talent.
- Our creative industries are innovators for our nation.
In 2013 dance organisations supported by the Australia Council reached local audiences of over 700,000 through performances, workshops and school activities, including 78,000 Australians living regionally. Dance performances made up 14 per cent of all international attendances at overseas Australia Council supported performances. Across eighteen organisations, 1,273 artists and creatives were employed.
Australia Council funding and investment in the dance sector (including Majors, KAOs and other grants) has sat steady at approximately ten percent of all Australia Council funding for the last five years. This low level of support, given the number of Australians engaged with this art form, must be a matter of concern for us all.
Here’s how you can be involved
- Share your concerns with local media and on social media with #istandwiththearts and #ausvotesarts
- Contact your peers and plan your own action for the arts.
- Sign this petition to restore arts funding.
- Write to the Arts Minister, the Hon. Mitch Fifield, inviting him to Fund Culture, Fund the Arts, Change Lives.
- Vote for the candidates with the best arts policies on 2 July.
- The Arts Party
- The Greens
- Australian Labor Party
- Liberal Party The Liberal Party has yet to release a policy for this election. The Liberal Party's last arts-focused election policy was released in 2010 and can be found on the National Library of Australia’s Pandora.
- The Liberal Democrats have a policy on copyright
- The Sex Party have a policy on media classification.
- Election 2016: Arts report card—We rate the pollies' policies, by Debbie Cuthbertson, 1 July 2016
- Smaller parties come to the arts policy party, by Richard Watts, ArtsHub, 17 June 2016.