More money would mean fewer problems for the arts

by Bill Browne

Arts and entertainment have amused, comforted and inspired Australians during COVID-19 pandemic – but have been hit hard by lockdowns. The $222.9 million announced in the Budget for additional arts sector support is welcome, but not sustained: most is going to financially support events and productions in this and the next financial year.

The sector is a jobs-creator, but it needs government support to tell authentic Australian stories.

An additional $85.4 million for the big cultural institutions (the National Gallery of Australia, Australian National Maritime Museum, and so on) is welcome – but $79.9 million of that is for critical works and maintenance. Only $5.5 million is going to create something new: an exhibition at the Museum of Australian Democracy.

It’s not enough to patch holes and keep the physical buildings standing: we need thriving, modern institutions with new content for Australians to engage with.

Finally, the Government has set aside $28.1 million to deliver its Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Action Plan. We’re still waiting on the Action Plan itself, which is due some time this year – prompted by the report into inauthentic art and craft in the style of First Nations people.

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