‘Sculpting’ a plan, ‘igniting’ an economy

A lot’s already been written about the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts’ Report on the 2020 Parliamentary Inquiry into Australia’s creative and cultural industries and institutions. Many peak bodies immediately welcomed the Report, and I’ve taken a look at how its recommendations compare to those of the 2015 Senate Inquiry on the Impact of the 2014 and 2015 Commonwealth Budget decisions on the Arts, as well as sounding caution on the role of the Productivity Commission.

While there’s plenty to celebrate, the Report raises concerns that the sector continues to work through, as was discussed in detail at Reset last week. Here are three of those concerns:

  1. It seeks to improve the Commonwealth’s understanding of the arts…

As artists and peak bodies tried their best to engage political decision-makers throughout the pandemic, it became increasingly clear that there was no common understanding of Australia’s arts and cultural sector: how artists earn their incomes; how national touring works; the sector’s size and diversity. 

It’s welcome to see the Report detail how the ABS currently gathers and presents arts and cultural data – data on employment patterns, working hours, government and non-government expenditure etc. – and what use is made of this work. 

There are useful recommendations on adding questions to the Census to capture multiple professional activities, enhancing the scope and frequency of the Cultural and Creative Satellite Accounts, and making sure that precarious work (whether paid or unpaid) is captured. 

…but it offloads all responsibility to local government and the states.

The Report’s first recommendation – “a national cultural plan to assess the medium and long term needs of the sector” – segues immediately to second recommendation – “that the Commonwealth Government encourage each level of government to develop and administer strategies to grow cultural and creative industries within their own jurisdictions.”

Let’s take a closer look at that.

The Commonwealth is not expressing a commitment to a “national cultural” policy, but instead, an interest in a planto “asses the medium and long term needs”, which it then expects to see addressed by local and state governments “within their own jurisdictions”.

This Report makes no recommendations that the Commonwealth Government develop any kind of strategic approach to the arts and cultural sector. No policy, no strategy, no plan…

>>> Read on at Arts Hub