Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Labor election victory means renewed approach for Australian arts and culture support

Almost a decade of Coalition Government has ended, with a complex and ground-breaking result. During that long period the substantial and detailed work to develop a national cultural policy under the Rudd and then Gillard Labor Governments was sidelined. A strategic, comprehensive, long-term approach to support by national Government for Australian culture and creativity in its broadest sense was largely absent. Now we are likely to see a return – finally – to some of the central principles that underpinned ‘Creative Australia’, the blueprint that represented the Labor Government response to Australia’s creative sector.

Having been Director of the National Cultural Policy Task Force that coordinated the development of 'Creative Australia' under Crean and Gillard, I feel a great sense of deja vu this week - albeit looking back over almost ten years and a global pandemic. I can never say again that we don't live in interesting times – with all the consequences of that.

 A ground-shaking election means that there may be some important changes on the way for support for Australia’s arts and culture. I must admit that I had largely stopped commenting because at some point, you realise there is no more to be said about the same old, same old after almost a decade. Now we are likely to see a return to a revised blueprint that represented the Labor response to Australia’s creative sector ten years ago. Before the election, Shadow Arts Minister, Tony Burke, outlined what an incoming Labor Government would do for Australian arts and culture.

Election poster from New Zealand 2016

His most important comment was that ‘the first step is a comprehensive cultural policy.’ He went on to note that ‘a cultural policy isn’t simply an arts policy. Cultural policies have only been developed in Australia by Labor Governments. Paul Keating and his Arts Minister Michael Lee developed Creative Nation. Julia Gillard and her Arts Minister Simon Crean developed Creative Australia.’