Creative Australia: Modernise Funding and Support

by Alex Masso, March 2013

Part 3 of our response to the Creative Australia policy looks at arts funding, business and philanthropic support, and cooperation between different levels of government. In the cultural policy, these areas fall under the first of three sections: "Modernise Funding and Support".

The Australia Council and supporting a culture of giving, partnership and investment, mentorship and entrepreneurship

The government is now committed to structural reform and increased funding for the Australia Council. While very little of the structural reform affects community music, there is some hope for increased Community Partnerships support as part of the Australia Council’s funding boost.

Creative Australia logoA new body is being established to replace the Australia Business Arts Foundation and ArtSupport, which have dealt with business partnerships and philanthropy respectively. As part of the consolidation and expansion of these programs, the Creative Australia policy aims to “extend support to small-medium orgs, particularly in regional and remote areas”. There is a great opportunity now to use the expertise of these organisations to support very small, community based groups as they deal with the ongoing challenge of fundraising, developing partnerships, and ensuring that these important community groups are sustainable.

There is a proposal to “measure Australia’s culture of giving”, which would include “the number of volunteers giving their time to support the arts”, as part of the research agenda for the Australia Council and/or Creative Partnerships Australia. An extraordinary volunteer contribution is made to musical life at community level every day, right across Australia. Measurement of this contribution would support the understanding of the contribution made by local community music groups and leaders.

Cooperation, partnership and support between all levels of government

An ambitious and timely initiative of Creative Australia is to develop “a National Arts and Culture Accord that will describe how each level of government will support arts and culture and set out principles for ongoing cooperation.” It will deal with funding collaboration, complex crossjurisdictional issues, arts education, research and data collection, and other strategies.

Another important action item is “coordinating local government cultural activities through the National Local Government Cultural Forum”, which will “strengthen coordination and provide a firm base on which the National Arts and Culture Accord can build.”

There are many examples of multiple jurisdictions dealing with a particular area of arts funding, policy or other support:

  • Regional music festivals may have a strong involvement with local government, leverage state government support as a tourism initiative, and federal government support through Festivals Australia or other programs.
  • Venue-based live music has interactions with local government (urban design, development applications, local cultural policy), state government (liquor licensing, noise regulations, policing) and federal government (Building Code of Australia).
  • Music education in schools, particularly in public schools, relies most heavily on state government but has interactions with the federal government through some funding programs, the soon to be implemented Australian Curriculum, and the consistency agenda outlined in the Creative Australia policy. The recent City of Sydney discussion paper for its Creative City policy offers some ideas about local government supporting music education.
  • The National Arts and Health Framework has been actively pursued so far by the Cultural and Health Ministers councils under COAG. Health, of course, is a state and federal issue and the application of the arts in health settings may overlap with local government priorities.

This agenda is very important and presents a great opportunity to deal with participation in music at a community level, as well as much needed support for music education and live music.

< Part 2: Music in Communities Response | Part 4: The Social & Economic Dividend >