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Budget 2022: How the arts fared — and how the sector is looking ahead to the National Cultural Policy

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Arts industry bodies are holding out for substantive funding announcements with the launch of the National Cultural Policy later this year, after the first budget from the Albanian government contained little support for the sector.

Speaking to ABC Arts the morning after Treasurer Jim Chalmers revealed the October budget, Live Performance Australia (LPA), National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) and Screen Producers Australia (SPA) all said that they did not expect any windfalls from the budget .

But they each point to funding gaps they would like to see addressed in the forthcoming policy announcement.

Arts Minister Tony Burke tried to temper expectations ahead of the budget, telling The Monthly and The Saturday Paper’s 7am podcast earlier this month, “Don’t expect much in the October budget at all.”

Instead, announcements about arts and cultural funding are expected in December, with the release of the National Cultural Policy.

However, writer, researcher and policy advisor for advocacy group Fund the Arts Ben Eltham says the absence of the arts from the budget is a “missed opportunity” to reset the conversation about arts funding in Australia, after a decade of austerity.

Headshot of white man with curly blonde and gray hair wearing glasses and a taupe trenchcoat over white shirt and black tie
Ben Eltham is also a lecturer in media and communications at Monash University in Melbourne. (Supplied)

“Federal funding levels for the arts are in a pretty parlous state,” he says.

“They’re low and declining. And that’s notwithstanding the significant amounts of stimulus that [former Arts Minister] Paul Fletcher and the Morrison Government did do during the pandemic, but all that stimulus has ended now.

“There’s a clear need [for more funding] at present particularly in the performing arts. We know that the sector’s still hurting.”

What IS in the budget when it comes to arts?

The budget promised $36.8 million over four years from 2022-23 to 2025-26 to support the arts sector.

Big-ticket items include the already-announced $22 million to establish a temporary Live Performance Support Fund for live events such as plays, concerts and festivals impacted by COVID-19; and a commitment of $7.4 million for Bundanon Trust, which runs an art museum in regional NSW at the site of artist Arthur Boyd’s former home and studio.

Other beneficiaries include national performing arts training organisations, with a total of $2.4 million over four years allocated to the Australian Ballet School, Australian National Academy of Music, Australian Youth Orchestra, Flying Fruit Fly Circus, National Aboriginal and Islander Skills Development Association Dance College ( NAISDA), National Institute of Circus Art, and National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA).