Esther Anatolitis was interviewed by ABC RN Arts’ Nicola Heath.

When Labor won the 2022 election, many saw it as an opportunity to reset arts policy in Australia.

After declaring an end to “the nine-year political attack on the arts and entertainment sector”, incoming Arts Minister Tony Burke announced the development of a new National Cultural Policy, developed in consultation with artists and organisations, with the intention to deliver it before the end of the year.

“Cultural policy is more than some funding announcements for the arts. When you get it right, it affects our health policy, our education policy, our environment policy, foreign affairs, trade, veterans’ affairs, tourism,” Burke said in a speech to the Arts Industry Council of Australia in 2021.

“A nation with a strong cultural policy is a nation where we know ourselves, know each other and invite the world to better know us.”

“Cultural policies give us a framework in which to develop arts and culture in Australia,” said Burke in a 2021 speech to the Arts Industry Council of Australia.

Esther Anatolitis, honorary associate professor at RMIT School of Art and founder of arts consultancy Test Pattern, says without a national arts strategy, funding decisions are often made ad hoc or according to ministerial discretion.

“If we had that approach to, say, health policy – I’m going to fund that hospital because I like it, not the other one – it would be an absolute disaster.

“[We need] a cohesive, strategic, national approach to supporting the creative people and the organisations and industries that drive Australia’s creativity…”

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