The next piece of the puzzle

By: Kate Fielding   |   CEO, A New Approach   |   https://newapproach.org.au/

Last week independent think tank, A New Approach (ANA), proposed that a ‘National Arts, Culture and Creativity Plan’ be developed to supercharge the industry’s recovery from Covid-19. The CEO of ANA, Kate Fielding, explains why the think tank has recommended this course of action and what the benefits would be.

Last week independent think tank, A New Approach (ANA), proposed that a ‘National Arts, Culture and Creativity Plan’ be developed to supercharge the industry’s recovery from Covid-19. The CEO of ANA, Kate Fielding, explains why the think tank has recommended this course of action and what the benefits would be.

Over the last year, A New Approach has been exploring the idea of a National Plan for Arts, Culture and Creativity.

Our new analysis paper, Imagining 2030, outlines why we think it would be a great next step in the Federal Government’s suite of 2030 plans, which cover agriculture, sport, innovation, tourism and defence technology.

During 2020 ANA conducted research with ‘middle Australians’ - defined as middle-aged, middle income, swing voters in marginal electorates in regional and suburban Australia. In 2021 we’ve commenced new work speaking with younger members (18-29 years old) of the same demographic. Both cohorts have been telling us that imagination, belonging and inspiration all grow out of engagement with arts, culture and creativity, and that these opportunities are fundamental to being Australian. They also told us that today, ‘arts and culture’ means everything from film, design, and interactive gaming, through to community festivals, visiting the war memorial, or singing along to the radio in your car.

From the picnicker at the Symphony in the Park to the visual art teacher in a rural school; from our writers and international pop stars to the theatre technician doing the lights for a local dance school’s performance: Australians believe arts and cultural activities are an integral part of life.

This work has informed our call for a National Arts, Culture and Creativity Plan (NACC Plan) that would help ensure arts and culture opportunities are available to all Australians, wherever they live.

We believe a NACC Plan is a practical way for the Federal Government to facilitate more coherent and effective public and private investments across these industries, as well as legislative, regulatory and policy settings.

Importantly, it should help Australia recalibrate our investments - both public and private - of ‘time, talent and treasure’ for a 21st century context.

Other industry groups in Australia, including Sport and Agriculture and Defence, have told us that they have reaped significant benefits from having a 2030 plan. These existing examples demonstrate that a Plan can introduce a level of accountability and a sense of ownership across groups with vastly disparate interests. It can help an industry group to operate at its most productive and articulate a range of diverse private and public benefits and responsibilities.

For a national plan to be effective it will need to link up with activity and investment at state, territory and local government levels. Fortunately, all Australian states and territories have a current plan, policy or strategy for the arts, arts and culture, or cultural and creative industries. 

A national plan would work with these existing plans, and use them to inform what we consistently value in this space across the nation.

Similarly, the new Australian Local Government Association policy position on arts and culture identifies the growing role local governments have in this space. Endorsed in 2020 by 537 local governments across the country, it marks the first time there has been a shared national position on arts and culture from local governments.

There are significant risks involved in letting this moment pass. The most obvious is that Covid-19 has precipitated major damage to the arts, cultural and creative industries in Australia, and recovery in these industries will require deliberate, coordinated action from all stakeholders, including governments. However, the risks are broader than just those posed by the pandemic and its impact on these industries. Opportunities for creative and cultural participation have positive impacts on areas including social cohesion, health and wellbeing, education and innovation (you can explore this further in our recent review of the contemporary international evidence for these impacts, among others).

A NACC Plan would reduce risks to all levels of governments, as well as to other funders — especially philanthropists and private investors — who often provide reciprocal and compensatory funding. It would also reduce the risk to a category of industries that relies on long-term development of skills and products for its delivery and ambition for excellence.

A NACC Plan is the missing piece of the puzzle that can help ensure a 21st century policy and investment settings which support an Australia that celebrates, benefits from, and invests in arts, culture and creativity for the benefit of all Australians.

Jun. 03, 2021

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