Dance in the National Cultural Policy

Ausdance supported the development of Australia's National Cultural Policy. We believed it should not only deliver new ideas and strategies, but also reflect the ambitions of the Australian community (including those identified in Dance Plan 2012).

It should respect and promote Indigenous perspectives, and encompass the cultural ambitions of our multicultural society. It should reflect and acknowledge the breadth of cultural activity and diversity, including professional excellence in artistic performance and education, community access and participation, and artists’ career development and sustainability.

Project Status

A national cultural policy

In 2010 the Australian Government committed to producing a National Cultural Policy. The Government said it wanted a National Cultural Policy to underpin broader government priorities. They also asked the community for ideas about how it could shape Australia’s future. And in August 2011 they released a discussion paper for public comment.

Most arts organisations made submissions, including Ausdance, ArtsPeak and the National Advocates for Arts Education.

A National Cultural Policy provided an opportunity for

  • a whole-of-government approach to defining ‘culture’
  • placing Indigenous perspectives at the centre of Australian cultural life (as it does across disciplines in the Australian Curriculum)
  • acknowledging and recognising the arts (and artists) as primary creators in a creative economy.

How could a national cultural policy affect your work?

We saw the National Cultural Policy as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to achieve the ambitions set out in Dance Plan 2012.

While the dance community, Ausdance and the Australia Council took responsibility for achieving the ambitions identified in Dance Plan 2012, the Australian government has a role to play. They provide leadership, investment and a coherent cultural policy in which to deliver Dance Plan 2012's outcomes.

Dance Plan 2012's ambitions are interrelated. Each ambition depends on the success of the others. And their combined success would see a rich and diverse Australian dance culture that is sustainable, accessible, innovative and creative.

Success would see

  • all young people educated in, through and about dance and the arts
  • the best of Australian culture reflected in the work of our professional choreographers
  • regular touring—regionally, nationally and internationally.

What did we do?

We made a submission to the National Cultural Policy in 2011, and followed up with meetings to discuss aspects of the policy with the Arts Minister’s office.

We organised a meeting of 30 arts organisations to meet with Arts Minister Simon Crean, who briefed us on the National Cultural Policy and the National Broadband Network and its potential for the arts.

We told political leaders about

  • issues affecting the small to medium dance sector
  • the demise of SCOPE for Artists and the need to include it in the National Cultural Policy
  • an alternative funding model for ‘ArtsReady’, a proposal based on ‘SportsReady’, which seeks to get young people into the sports industry straight from school

What did we ask for?

We asked the government to take a ‘whole of government’ approach (to consider research, health, education and social security agendas). Arts policy made in isolation from these big policy areas has not worked well for artists' sustainability and the viability of the industry as a whole. 

We asked for greater investment in building the capacity of the arts industry by increasing productivity and maximising investment in arts training. Programs such as SCOPE for Artists and the Indigenous dance development program Treading the Pathways successfully contributed to artists' career development.

Artists continue to subsidise their work, with continuing low incomes, patchwork careers and periods of unemployment and under-employment. So we suggested a new review into the small to medium performing arts sector and its contribution to the development of the art form.

The research agenda for the arts has had minimal investment, strategic planning and long-term commitment by Australian governments. We believe that there is an urgent need for deep and longitudinal research in the arts, and that a proposal to develop a Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) for Arts and Entertainment Futures is import sector's future

News + Events

Recent News

Budget delivers on Cultural Policy promise

The Budget and the arts

Federal Budget day

National Cultural Policy—messages from the field

National Cultural Policy delayed

National Cultural Policy only weeks away

Review of Private Sector Support for the Arts 2011

Moving the National Cultural Policy forward

Time for a funding review of smaller dance companies

Our contribution to the National Cultural Policy discussion paper

Following up the National Cultural Policy ministerial meeting

National Cultural Policy meeting outcomes

National Cultural Policy meeting with Arts Minister

Upcoming Events

There is currently no upcoming events for this project.


The Federal Budget, presented on 14 May 2013, delivered on the promises announced as part of the National Cultural PolicyCreative Australia.

Money promised at the launch of Creative Australia  was confirmed through inclusion in the Budget and estimates for future years, under the heading 'a creative nation is a productive nation'. The National Cultural Policy included a $235 million vision and strategy to place arts and culture at the centre of modern life.

As part of this commitment the Australia Council will receive $75.3 million over the next four years (from 1 July 2013), with $15m per year to arts organisations to address the demand for 'high quality creative content from established, emerging and hybrid art forms'. $1.25m per year will be used to establish a funding pool for the major performing arts organisations, subject to matched funding from the states and territories.

The Creative Young Stars Progam will provide $8m over two years for financial assistance to young people (up to 25) to put towards the cost of representing their community in training, cultural, artisitc, academic or community based activities and events. Successful applicants will receive a grant of $500 (individuals) or $3000 (groups), with 23 individual and four group grants awarded in each federal electorate per year.

Other successes include the continuation of the ArtStart program for graduates, additional funding for arts training organisations such as the Australian Ballet School and NAISDA, and additional funding for some major performing arts companies including Bangarra Dance Theatre and the West Australian Ballet.

Further Reading

Creative Australia, the Australian Government’s 2013 national cultural policy, celebrates Australia’s strong, diverse and inclusive culture. It describes the essential role arts and culture play in the life of every Australian and how creativity is central to Australia’s economic and social success: a creative nation is a productive nation.