Daily BulletinDaily Bulletin

The Conversation

  • Written by Peter Tregear, Honorary Principal Fellow, University of Melbourne

It says something about the place of the arts in Australian public life that a federal budget speech delivered on the eve of an election chooses not to mention them. Agriculture gets a mention. Culture, however, doesn’t.

If The Honourable Josh Frydenberg MP really meant what he declared towards the end of his budget speech, to wit that “a strong economy is not an end in itself. It’s what you do with it that counts”, then this was a missed opportunity.

In some respects maybe this was no bad thing. After all, as Conor King, Executive Director of Innovative Research Universities noted in relation to higher education, one good result of “the quietest budget for some years” was the announcement of no new cuts.

But it also suggests that the government is unwilling to offer strong leadership in this particular sphere of public policy. Battle weary, perhaps, by years of engagement in the so-called “culture wars”, and still reeling from the criticism it faced across the sector after the punitive measures it announced in 2014, maybe the government decided that the arts is an area best left alone at this end of the electoral cycle.

To be sure, however, there are some new initiatives to be found in this year’s budget if one cares to look. The most controversial is perhaps the $800,000 earmarked for Australia Day activities and to support a review of the National Australia Day Council’s programs.

A more substantial (in every sense) measure is the reconfirmation of a grant of $17.1 million to enable Free TV Australia to offer Australian television content to broadcasters in the south Pacific. This is a welcome recognition of the value of so-called “soft power” in the region notwithstanding the possibility, as the ABC has already wryly noted, of Married at First Sight being at the forefront of Australian cultural diplomacy.

Other new initiatives include $129 million to support cultural infrastructure in Adelaide, $85 million of this for a new Aboriginal Art and Cultures Gallery for the city. There is a partial rolling back of the savage cuts to the ABC announced in the 2017 budget, with an additional $43.7 million over three years available to support local and regional news and current affairs offerings. SBS also gets an extra $29.6 million to support its own TV, radio and online offerings.

a vision for the arts in the 2019 budget Dan Sultan performs at a rally in support of live music in Sydney. The government has announced a package to support Australian music. Joel Carrett/AAP

The Prime Minister Scott Morrison had also a few days earlier announced $30.9 million to support Australia’s live music industry. Dubbed the “Australian Music Industry Package”, it included the provision of $22.5 million over four years for grants of $10,000 to small businesses to enable them to book musicians or to help them invest in equipment or infrastructure in order to establish or upgrade a live music venue. Other related initiatives include $2.1 million for a women in music mentor program and $2.7 million to establish a national development program for Indigenous musicians and bands.

While these no doubt reflect the government’s concern to appeal to inner-city, regional and ethnic minority voters in advance of the expected May election, they also reflect the current placement of the arts portfolio within The Department of Communications and the Arts.

The department’s stated mission is to work “with government and industry to provide an environment in which all Australians can access and benefit from communications services, creative experiences and culture.” It summarises its strategic direction under two broad aims:

• connectivity: enabling all Australians to connect to effective communications services and technologies, for inclusiveness and sustainable economic growth

• creativity and culture: supporting inclusiveness and growth in Australia’s creative sector, and protecting and promoting Australian content and culture.

Arts minister Mitch Fifield thus justifies such budget allocations ultimately because, “The Morrison government understands the enormous potential for growth in this dynamic sector and is delivering real world measures to strengthen the diversity and reach of our music industry.”

In contrast to what Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said, then, it seems the budget is ultimately all about the economy. Where is the nation-building cultural vision, the statement of cultural aspiration? Where is any recognition that the arts are one of the ways we ultimately make sense of our place in an increasingly confusing, and confused, world?

Is it too much to expect our governments, of whatever political persuasion, to want to support not just an arts economy but also the arts as a good in themselves?

Is it too much to expect them to help encourage and empower the wider Australian community to explore just what sorts of art and artistic practice can best befit our nation in the 21st century?

Authors: Peter Tregear, Honorary Principal Fellow, University of Melbourne

Read more http://theconversation.com/missing-in-action-a-vision-for-the-arts-in-the-2019-budget-114816

Vital Signs: Shorter meetings but longer days – how COVID-19 has changed the way we work


The Conversation


Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Scott Morrison: the right man at the right time

Australia is not at war with another nation or ideology in August 2020 but the nation is in conflict. There are serious threats from China and there are many challenges flowing from the pandemic tha...

Greg Rogers - avatar Greg Rogers

Prime Minister National Cabinet Statement

The National Cabinet met today to discuss Australia’s COVID-19 response, the Victoria outbreak, easing restrictions, helping Australians prepare to go back to work in a COVID-safe environment an...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Business News

Reinventing The Outside Of Your Office

Efficient work is a priority in most offices. You need a comfortable interior that is functional too. The exterior also affects morale. Big companies have an amazing exterior like university ca...

News Company - avatar News Company

Kaspersky and Ferrari partnership: tailoring cybersecurity for an iconic brand

Kaspersky is commemorating the 10 year anniversary of its strategic partnership with iconic, global brand - Ferrari. The cybersecurity company is a sponsor of the brand’s Formula One racing team...

News Company - avatar News Company

Instant Steel Solutions Review

Are you keen on having the right guidance, knowledge and information about the right kind of steel purchases for your industries? If yes, then you are in the right place. There is no doubt that ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

News Company Media Core

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion