NiTRO Creative Matters

Perspectives on creative arts in higher education

What can we expect from Labor Arts Policy

MP Tony Burke has been appointed Minister for the Arts in the new Albanese Government.

So what should we expect? His active support for students at the SCA closure campaign promises an understanding of tertiary arts and indicates that his interest in Arts is more than just an “add on” ministry as is so often the case. Although no headline grabbing policy announcement, the Labor Arts Policy was launched on 22 May in Melbourne and it’s clear that Burke is not going to adopt the Brandis approach.

“. . .  a cultural policy isn’t simply an arts policy. Cultural policies have only been developed in Australia by Labor Governments. Paul Keating and his Arts Minister Michael Lee developed Creative Nation. Julia Gillard and her Arts Minister Simon Crean developed Creative Australia.

In each case it was a whole of government exercise. Because anyone who understands the sector know arts isn’t simply about entertainment, leisure and hobbies. At its best it affects our education policy, our health policy, our trade, our relations around the world, our industrial relations approach and is a driver of economic growth. 

When George Brandis replaced me as Arts Minister, they didn’t change the cultural policy to something more conservative. They abolished it and replaced it with nothing. .  . .

Instead we have had a culture war. Attacks on artists as workers. Attacks on the universities and TAFE colleges that train them. And attacks on the institutions including the Australia Council and the ABC which support their work. Our collecting institutions were left to fall into disrepair. An Albanese Government will restore cultural policy and end the culture war.”

The things that stand out for me in this policy launch include:

  • First Nations as the first pillar of Cultural policy

  • artistic merit to be determined by peers’ not ministers

  • a plan to return Creative Partnerships back into the Australia Council

  • negotiation with states for an insurance system for the sector

  • support for Australian content.

“If science tells us why we are here, the arts tell us how we are here – and remind us why we want to be here.”

The full transcript is available at: https://www.tonyburke.com.au/speechestranscripts/2022/5/17/speech-labors-arts-policy-launch-the-espy-melbourne-16-may-2022

Further commentary by Kim Goodwin and Caitlin Vincent is available at The Conversation : https://theconversation.com/tony-burkes-double-ministry-of-arts-and-industrial-relations-could-be-just-what-the-arts-sector-needs-183623

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