Today NAVA launched Arts Agenda: a monthly focus on national issues in Australia’s contemporary arts, written exclusively for journalists, researchers, policy-makers and advocates.
“State of the Arts
“The contemporary arts in Australia are a two-speed economy. More than that: multiple economies on multiple speeds running on multiple gears. There is no one “arts industry”, just like there’s no single “sports industry”; artist-run initiatives, the small-to-medium sector, commercial galleries, state-owned institutions, and the massive unfunded sector, together form a complex set of interdependencies that touch on every aspect of our lives. And while that’s in the very nature of artistic practice, our stop-start approach to policy means Australia’s contemporary arts sector risks shrinking at the very moment it’s poised for national and international impact.
“On the one hand, the visual arts are Australia’s most popular artform in terms of participation. The arts industry overall contributes $111.7 billion to the economy, or 6.4% of GDP, and employs more people than the IT, mining and energy sectors each employ. While 98% of all Australians engage with the arts, with households spending over $6.5 billion annually, 30% of all Australians enjoy or create visual art. And with audiences growing, multiple billions are about to be spent on new contemporary art galleries all over Australia.
“On the other, the numbers of visual artists and craft practitioners are declining, and so are their incomes – both their overall incomes, which are 21% below the average wage, and the incomes professional artists derive exclusively from creative work, which are below the poverty line and have dropped 19% in the seven years since the previous Australia Council research reports. Despite working longer, harder, and across more disciplinary areas than ever before, more and more artists are living precariously, it’s taking longer for artists to become established, and the gender pay gap is worse in the arts than in any other industry…”
Image: Senator Mitch Fifield, Minister for the Arts, and Esther Anatolitis at Future/Forward 2018. Photograph by Zan Wimberley.