Articles on Arts policy

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Twenty years on, Paul Keating’s Creative Nation remains a vital reference point in the history of Australian cultural policy. AAP Image/Julian Smith

Paul Keating’s Creative Nation: a policy document that changed us

Today marks 20 years since the publication of Creative Nation. An ambitious and expansive project by Paul Keating’s Labor Government, it was the first Commonwealth cultural policy document in Australia’s…
Learning a musical instrument begins with the act of making music with our bodies. AAP/Yonhap

It takes more than singing to strike a chord in music education

Yesterday, Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne and Arts Minister George Brandis announced A$594,000 in funding for a new national music teachers mentorship program. The details have sent music…
Gough Whitlam, Labor prime minister from 1972 to 1975, has died aged 98. AAP/ Joe Hildebrand

Gough Whitlam, young people and public support for the arts

Gough Whitlam’s legacy in the arts first hit me as a little indie-music nerd in the 1990s. The inner-city Sydney band The Whitlams made a funny little music video about their namesake, a bloke who was…
You need to know Shakespeare to judge it, not the other way round. orangechallenger

Measure for measure: the creative arts and the ‘impact agenda’

What use are Shakespeare’s plays? Back in the day, when my wife and I were dirt-poor arty types and lived in a hovel that declined the profligacy of doors, a two-volume hard-back edition of his collected…
Will changes support good artistic practice? (Pic shows Intrude by Amanda Parer). AAP Image/Junction Arts Festival, Tim Jones PR.

A guide to OzCo’s new goals, codewords and thought gaps

Last month the Australia Council announced a new strategic plan and approach to arts funding. As the sector comes to terms with what these changes may mean, it seems that there are more challenges to come…
The Liberal government didn’t need a fully-functioning cultural policy at the last election. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

OzCo has a new strategic plan – where’s Abbott’s cultural policy?

As with other emissions of choice opacity – horoscopes, Bible stories, RBA economic forecasts – cultural policy announcements invite construal of their mystical meaning. Nothing is quite as it seems. On…
With the release of its strategic plan the Australia Council will sing from a new songsheet - but the finer details are far from clear. AAP Image/Paul Miller

New soundbites from the Australia Council – and not many details

The Australia Council made two significant announcements this week. The first was the launch of its Strategic Plan and the second was a new Grants Model. The external review of the Australia Council, conducted…
To understand Australian culture in all its diversity, we need data. AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

We need ABS arts and sports data to understand our culture

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) last week released its 2014-2018 forward work plan. The work plan confirms the June media release that arts and sport data will disappear from the ABS-funded component…
Reinforcing the association between “elite” art forms and class privilege does nobody any favours. The Australian Ballet preview of Art to Sky. AAP/ Nikki Short

Class privilege and the classical arts – the problem of ‘elite’ culture

An episode of the ABC TV comedy series Upper Middle Bogan, recently re-aired, explores the perceived class divide between high and low art forms. Edwina Bright, the daughter of a well-to-do family, who…
How will the arts sector take care of artists in the face of government action? La Versiera

Without independent artists the major arts bodies will die

The morning after budget night on May 13, independent artists woke to a familiar alarm. It was Groundhog Day for “the heavy-lifters”, the independent artists of Australia’s arts sector. Their miserable…
It’s worth remembering we elect politicians to be leaders, as well as financial managers. Thomas Hawk

The budget, the arts and the limits of marketplace thinking

There is a well-known internet meme that quotes Britain’s war-time leader Winston Churchill’s response to a proposition that arts funding should be cut in favour of the war effort. His retort was: “Then…
How grim a message is the budget inadvertently sending? Maria Schaefer Photography

Hockey’s budget ignores the cultural economy, to its shame

The reality of the 2014 budget is now pretty clear, not just its specific provisions but the kind of nation it wants Australia to become. How it affects culture relates not just to this or that cut to…
The National Museum of Australia is one of several organisations whose back-room operations will be merged. Lukas Coch/AAP IMAGE

Merging ‘back-office functions’ is bad news for the museum sector

After a sustained period of slimming down under the previous Labor government it looks like the GLAM sector (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) has still not achieved its target weight. Even before…
The state of culture in Australia? Basically, it’s in rude health. Ars Electronica

The state of Australia: cultural economy

In the lead-up to the budget, the story of crisis has been hammered home, but there’s more to a country than its structural deficit. So how is Australia doing overall? In this special series, ten writers…
After many cuts to arts programming, the ABC has announced new specialised arts programming and a new Arts Council. AAP Image/ Tracey Nearmy

Will the new ABC Arts Council win back the arts community?

Due to Australia’s small population and high concentration of few media voices, public broadcasters play a pivotal role in shaping the media ecosystem and cultural landscape. With the ABC and SBS under…
Neville Wran had a reputation as a tough guy – but he was also a strong supporter of the arts. AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy

Remembering Neville Wran – arts aficionado or Balmain bruiser?

In 1981, on a short trip back home to Australia from the UK, I saw a job advertised that I thought had been made for me. The Director, Women and Arts, according to the advertisement, was a special role…
The history of arts funding in Australia suggests the “arm’s length” principle is worth preserving. wallyg/ Artist: OverUnder, Brooklyn

The Australia Council must hold firm on ‘arm’s length’ funding

Things to remember if you are a federal minister for the arts: In arts policy, as in the arts, how you do things matters as much as what you do. Good ideas become bad ideas if your tone is wrong or you…

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