Not Sure Who To Vote For? Here's How The Major Parties Will Back The Arts

Published At: 19 May 2022 , 01:22 PM

We’ve been waiting with bated breath in the lead up to the election to see which party will be throwing the most support behind the arts sector, and after the Greens unveiled their plans earlier this month, followed by Labor this past Monday, the Liberal party has finally spoken out.

For those still undecided as to who to vote for this weekend, here’s a closer look at what each is offering the arts sector.

When contacted by The Music in regard to the Liberal party’s arts policy, Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts Paul Fletcher said a re-elected Morrison Government would “continue to support the sector in ways that make the arts, including music, more accessible to Australians everywhere”.

The Minister also highlighted that the Government is investing $841.8 million into the arts and entertainment sector through the Arts portfolio in 2022-23; of that, $6.4 million will support Australian music through the Australian Music Industry Package, including:

$5 million to support the Live Music Australia program. To date more than $10 million has been allocated under the first four rounds of the program, supporting more than 400 live music venues

$500,000 for the Indigenous Contemporary Music Program

$500,000 for the Women in Music Mentor program

$375,000 for Sounds Australia. This is in addition to the previously committed $1.2 million Export Stimulus Program which has been supported by Sounds Australia’s leading funding partners – the Australian Government through Office for the Arts, the Australia Council, APRA AMCOS, ARIA and PPCA.

In response to Labor’s announcement this week, Fletcher said: “Labor’s arts policy announced this week is a just a plan for a plan, without a single dollar figure attached to it.

“By contrast, the practical, targeted support provided by the Morrison Government has been unprecedented, with more than $1 billion invested in the sector in 2021-22. This is an unprecedented level of funding.

"The Morrison Government recognises that the arts sector continues to face challenges unique to the industry, which is why we acted quickly in establishing extensive support throughout the pandemic, totalling $500 million.

“The centrepiece of this support is the $220 million RISE fund. So far we have provided $200 million to 541 projects, creating more than 213,000 job opportunities across Australia. The fund will continue to support a pipeline of events over coming months.

“Through RISE, more than $68.1 million has been invested in 170 projects that involve contemporary music, or involve a significant element of contemporary music as part of a broader festival.

“A re-elected Morrison Government will continue to support the sector in ways that make the arts, including music, more accessible to Australians everywhere.”

But in the lead up to this Saturday’s election, both the Greens and Labor have condemned the Morrison Government’s lack of support for the arts throughout COVID and as it begins its recovery after a very rough couple of years.

The Greens made their intentions known earlier this month, acknowledging that the arts, entertainment and creative industries were some of the hardest hit by the pandemic and that’s why “the Greens arts policy focuses not only on getting them back on their feet, but investing in their growth well into the future”.

The Greens pledge to:

Provide additional COVID-19 recovery funding through the RISE fund, on an as-needed basis

Deliver a live performance insurance guarantee

Establish a $1 billion Live Performance Fund to invest in Australia’s festival, music and live performance sector: This fund is an opportunity to stimulate the economy and put people back into work in an industry that is job rich, and will reap benefits for communities across the country. 

Legislate a $250 minimum live performance fee for publicly funded events, backing the call from the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance.

The pledges are part of a comprehensive policy platform to revive and secure the arts and live performance industry, which can be read in full here.

“For the last two years of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Greens have been advocating for better support for our arts and live performance sector. We will continue to do so in the next parliament,” Greens spokesperson for the arts, Sarah Hanson-Young said.

“The sector was smashed literally overnight and has suffered the longest and hardest, yet repeated pleas to the Morrison Government for adequate help to survive and rebuild have been ignored.

“The arts helped us all get through lockdowns whether it was listening to our favourite bands, watching our favourite shows, reading a good novel or appreciating other forms of art, it’s time we are there for them.

“Performers are the reason audiences show up, they deserve a minimum fee for publicly funded events – it’s the least the government can do.

“This minimum fee pledge is part of a comprehensive policy to revive and secure our arts and live performance industry, including with an enhanced grants fund (RISE) and a live performance insurance guarantee.”

In a separate announcement last week, the Greens revealed a ‘living wage’ for artists under a program called The Artists Wage, stating “10,000 established or emerging artists and arts workers will be free to create while they are paid $772.60 per week for one year”.

"Ensuring artists receive a living wage will bring stability to a sector that has been left behind by the Morrison Government,” Hanson-Young said.

“The arts are a core part of Australian culture and contribute so much to our economy. We must do everything we can to make sure our artists can continue creating.

“The Morrison Government has treated the arts sector and creative workers with contempt, like a bunch of philistines who dismiss the public good of the arts but love belting out tunes from their favourite artists. 

“Countries like France and Ireland are successfully running programs to give artists a living wage. Australia should do the same. The arts helped us all get through lockdowns and now it’s time we are there for them.

“The Artists Wage is part of the Greens’ comprehensive Creative Australia policy to revive and secure our arts and creative industry, including an Artists in Residence program which will see an artist in every school and library across the country to also drive arts jobs and mentorship.”

A month out from revealing their arts policy this week, Labor announced that an Albanese Government would support Australian music and promote Australian artists by examining options to expand the reach of Double J on radio; that included backing calls for Double J to be put on FM radio.

Labor has stated it would commission the ABC to “undertake a feasibility study into the expansion of DoubleJ on radio as the next logical next step in helping great Aussie artists reach more ears”.

At the time, Anthony Albanese said: “It’s no secret I’ve always been a huge music fan. I want more people in regional Australia to experience the joy I have of listening to DoubleJ, singing along to songs they love or maybe discovering something new.”

Tony Burke, Shadow Minister for the Arts, added: “Australian musicians were left behind by the Morrison Government during the pandemic. Having them heard by more Australians in more towns is only going to be a good thing for artists and a good thing for listeners.”

Monday night’s announcement from Labor included a new cultural policy that would:

Revive cooperation between federal, state and local governments to ensure we have a national approach to arts and culture.

Reaffirm the need for arms-length funding. The Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison governments have used arts funding as a personal plaything. Labor is clear – the selection of funding for performance and creation of works should not be determined by the personal taste of a minister.

Examine a national insurance scheme for live events. The sector has been calling for a national insurance scheme since November 2020 but their pleas have been ignored by the Morrison Government. Commercial insurance which covers COVID-related risk is no longer available for promoters and organisers, putting a major dent in confidence.

Promote Australian creators on streaming platforms. The Liberals have gone out of their way to reduce the amount of Australian content on our screens. They have also been far too slow to move on screen content obligations for streamers. We will work with all stakeholders to determine ways Australian content can be boosted for both Australian music and screen content on streaming platforms. 

Protect performers and audiences from ticket scalpers. For too long, companies like Viagogo have been allowed to get away with fleecing audiences and depriving performers of vital revenue. Labor would work with State and Territory governments to secure a national approach to this problem.

Put First Nations art and culture at the centre of our approach to the sector. There can be no cultural policy without a specific focus on First Nations art and culture. 

Restoring ‘arts’ as part of a named government department. When the Coalition removed the word ‘arts’ from any government department at the end of 2020, it signalled what everyone in the sector already knew: arts and culture was the lowest of their priorities. It’s time for that to end. Labor will restore ‘arts’ as part of a named government department.

Last week, the Australian music industry unveiled a three-point plan aimed at the Government that would help it rebuild, expand and secure its future.

Sixteen Australian music industry bodies including ARIA, APRA AMCOS, Live Performance Australia, Support Acts, Sounds Australia and more urged the Federal Government and Federal Opposition to “partner with the Australian music industry on the next chapter of our national story”.

“Australia has the potential to go from a music nation to a music powerhouse. A powerhouse that can fully realise the cultural, economic, and social benefits of an even healthier music industry accessible to all Australians,” reads a statement from the group.

“A partnership approach with the Australian music industry will foster the future of jobs and build the skills in one of the fastest growing global industries at the forefront of community, innovation and economic growth.”

That three-point plan included:

Provide traineeships and skills retraining programs to address critical skills shortages in metro and regional areas

Wage support and additional funding to Support Act for ongoing crisis relief and to help the industry create sustainable cultural and behavioural change around mental health and wellbeing for artists and industry workers

Expand the Australian Music Industry program to foster the growth of First Nations led music, Sounds Australia and music export, women in music mentors, touring and new programs for young people and diversity initiatives

Invest in new Australian music through an annual Commonwealth Fellowship Program through living wage support of artists, songwriters & composers

Establish a national mentorship and industry development program to help develop the skills of artists, songwriters, producers, managers, sound engineers and music industry workers

Incentivise the visibility, use and discoverability of local content across all screen and audio digital platforms as well as commercial and community broadcasters

Provide a tax offset for live music to encourage new investment in activity across the country

Establish a Commonwealth-backed insurance scheme to increase industry confidence to invest in the creation and presentation of music across the nation

Ensure sustainability – strengthen intellectual property & policy review

Enhance tech innovation by strengthening intellectual property protection for music in the digital economy to ensure artists get a return on their creations

Partner with industry to support the recommendations of the Music Industry Review into sexual harm, sexual harassment and systemic discrimination

Undertake a ‘Green Paper’ Review of the policy settings supporting the creation, investment and pathways to market for Australian music

Read more: https://themusic.com.au/news/2022-federal-election-greens-labor-liberal-arts-policies/gN6YkpWUl5Y/19-05-22