What the October Budget Means for the Arts
November 14, 2022
The Attack may have Ended, but the Rebuilding has only just Begun.
After many gruelling years of funding cuts and overhyped and under-delivered promises, the arts sector is desperate for government support to rebuild and restart an ailing industry. But after last month’s Budget, where do we stand?
While the change of government has made it feel like the attack on the arts is over, does the ALP’s October 2022-23 Budget allow the rebuilding to begin?
A ‘BAND-AID’ BUDGET WITH SOME WINS BUT LITTLE FOCUS ON THE ARTS… FOR NOW.
While there are wins in the new Budget, more is needed to kick-start the renewal of the arts our country needs. With few new initiatives for the arts this time around, the government is asking us to wait for the National Cultural Policy.
In an attempt to temper pre-Budget expectations, Arts Minister Tony Burke told the sector not to expect much in the October Budget. And in response to post-Budget criticism on Twitter, he said, “It was always going to be dealt with in Cultural Policy. Consultation only recently finished. I’ve always said it wouldn’t be ready for this Budget.”So while we can understand the nervousness from an industry still hurting from years of funding uncertainty and general government indifference, we hope for more arts focus in the future.Some of the arts wins in the latest Budget include (but are not limited to):
$22 million to establish a Live Performance Support Fund to help the sector recover from the lingering (and ongoing) impacts of COVID-19.
$83.7 million to restore funding cuts to the ABC; a key election promise.
$14.8 million to support and improve the operations of various arts training organisations, including the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) and the National Aboriginal and Islander Skills Development Association Dance College (NAISDA).
$0.6 million to the Six Rivers Aboriginal Corporation to support the re-opening of its museum and cultural centre.
While it’s good to see some money allocated to arts projects, after the pain of COVID-19, $22m won’t go very far. Establishing a new Office for Youth is an interesting and pleasing outcome of last week’s Budget. With a promise to implement a new youth engagement model, we hope this initiative will give young people more voice and agency to influence policies that matter to them, including arts policy.
WHAT ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT?
As arts advocates and roaming storytellers, we have high expectations for our government to support not just the arts sector but also the implementation of responsible environmental policy. While the arts may not have held centre stage in this Budget, the ALP is clearly putting more emphasis on climate issues than previous governments – but more needs to be done.
Climate and environment-related Budget funding initiatives include (but are not limited to):
$20 billion to establish Rewiring the Nation to modernise Australia’s electricity grid, including unlocking new renewables and storage capacity.
$102.2 million to establish a Community Solar Banks program.
$91.8 million to deliver ‘shovel ready’ Great Barrier Reef projects.
$157.9 million to support the implementation of the National Energy Transformation Partnership to deliver critical energy security and reliability reforms.
$15.9 million to establish the Torres Strait Climate Change Centre of Excellence and a CLimate Warriors training program.
After too many years of climate change denial and dubious policy response, we’re feeling cautiously optimistic about a Budget that takes climate change more seriously. With nearly $25 billion committed to clean energy spending, and the establishment of a National Health Sustainability and Climate Unit, this government is showing signs it sees climate change as a serious economic, environmental and health issue.