National Cultural Policy puts arts “at the heart of our national life” but doesn’t tackle wages for arts workers

Australian arts and cultural institutions will benefit from $286 million in funding over the next four years, as part of the Federal Government’s new National Cultural Policy (NCP).

Revive: a place for every story, a story for every place is a five-year plan to reinvigorate Australia’s arts and culture scene. It’s comprised of five priority pillars: First Nations First, A Place for Every Story, Centrality of the Artist, Strong Cultural Infrastructure, and Engaging the Audience.

Revive puts the arts back where they are meant to be — at the heart of our national life,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said at the launch.

Despite the huge spike in funding, some critical measures are noticeably absent: improved wages for arts workers, targeted skills packages for individual artists, an insurance scheme designed for crises such as the COVID pandemic, and tax incentives for overseas investment in local productions were all left out.

That being said, the NCP has been generally well received, and is sure to begin to rectify close to a decade of funding cuts to the federal arts portfolio between 2013-2022. It will also support ongoing efforts to rebuild the arts and culture sector after it was decimated by the COVID pandemic.

At the centre of Revive is the creation of a new central body, Creative Australia, which will direct funding towards art and cultural institutions and programs that fall under the priority pillars.

Within Creative Australia will be a First Nations-led board, a Centre for Arts and Entertainment Workplaces tasked with tackling discrimination and poor working conditions within the industry, and targeted advisory bodies Music Australia and Writers Australia.

Among its many funding promises, covering streaming services, digital lending royalties for Australia authors and regional arts funding, is a strong focus on Indigenous art. First Nations-centred commitments include copyright protection, repatriation of Indigenous art to Australia, and a First Nations Languages preservation initiative.

The NCP is a huge step in the right direction for the arts, and a strong indication by the Federal Government that arts will be more of a priority over the next five years. That being said, some of the biggest issues are still waiting in the wings. Hopefully Revive is just the first Act.

Read more about Revive: a place for every story, a story for every place here.

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