The Hotel Esplanade in St. Kilda, where today's National Cultural Policy was announced | Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Federal Government Announce National Cultural Policy, Including Establishment of New Dedicated Music Body

The Federal Government has announced a new $286 million National Cultural Policy for the next five years, with a new arts investment and advisory body to oversee the development and promotion of music, literature and other arts in the country.

The policy, Revive, was unveiled at an event held in the Gershwin Room at The Espy in St. Kilda. It includes the establishment of an entity dubbed Creative Australia – governed by a “reimagined” Australia Council for the Arts – which will include four new agencies with a “high degree of autonomy”.

Watch the Government’s National Cultural Policy Launch

A new First Nations-led body is being established “to give financial power to First Nations works, to develop workforce plans and support First Nations works of scale,” said Arts Minister Tony Burke when announcing the policy.

A Centre for Arts and Entertainment Workplaces will also be established, which will work to ensure workers in the arts are being paid fairly – “because it’s not a hobby, it’s a job” – in workplaces that are free from discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying.

“To those who have spoken out against harassment and bullying, you are heard, you are seen, and you have a right to a safe workplace,” Burke said.

Per a Sydney Morning Herald report over the weekend, musician Deena Lynch – who performs as Jaguar Jonze and has spearheaded activism addressing harassment, harm and sexual violence in Australia’s music industry in recent years – was “instrumental” in forming the policy response.

“The codes that are developed by the centre will be taken into account when any business knocks on the door wanting government funding,” Burke said. The centre will also have dedicated funds to pass through to Support Act, Australia’s music industry charity, which provides crisis support for musicians and other music workers.

Within Creative Australia will also be the establishment of two bodies – Music Australia and Writers Australia – to support investment into contemporary writing and music in Australia, both areas that were “underfunded by the Australia Council,” according to Burke.

When discussing the need for the establishment of Music Australia, Burke cited the fact that in the most recent ARIA Album Chart, of the top 50 albums, only two Australian bands featured: Spacey Jane and INXS. “We want to make sure that the soundtrack to life in Australia has Australian music and Australian stories there for every single beat,” Burke said.

“Our artists work for all of us and their works reach all of us. This policy, Revive, restores the place of art, of entertainment, of culture, for all Australians,” Burke said.

“It’s essential that we do this, because you are essential workers,” Burke said to the workers in Australia’s creative industries. “Arts and entertainment is often undervalued, precisely because it brings so much joy. Both your cultural value and your economic contribution warrant a national policy.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese highlighted the economic contribution that Australian artists make, as well as the impact to society and culture more broadly. “The arts are an important part of our economy. That’s important to recognise. But it’s also important, I think, to lift yourself above the usual economic debate,” Albanese said.

“This is about our soul. This is about our identity. It is so important because it’s about… being able to express ourselves. It is literally through the arts that we build our identity as a nation and a people.”

Further Reading

Guy Sebastian Says He Was Used as a “Prop” by Government for Arts Funding Package

Support Act Gets Extra Funding To Cope With Demand For Crisis Money

Albanese Government Announces COVID-19 Live Performance Support Fund

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