Call to Action | Make arts and culture an issue in the 2016 Federal Election

Call to Action | Make arts and culture an issue in the 2016 Federal Election

Gemma Robins

Since 2013 the federal arts budget has been reduced by $300 million and has resulted in the destabilization of an under-resourced sector whose contribution to the national economy equals that of the healthcare sector and outperforms that of the retail and agricultural industries.

The Chamber has been lobbying on behalf of the WA sector in the lead up to the Federal Election. We believe there are eight important issues around arts policy:

  1. The need for a long-term national arts policy shaped by consultation with the arts and cultural sector and supported by evidence based data.
  2. Commitment to properly resource the implementation of the national policy’s objectives.
  3. A recognition of the challenges that large states like WA face in giving the community access to and participation in diverse arts and cultural activities throughout the state and beyond the borders.
  4. The immediate restoration of the federal arts funding level to that which accompanied the Creative Australia policy in 2013 with its increase of $235 million over four years.
  5. Commitment to indexation of arts funding.
  6. Commitment to the primacy and independence of the Australia Council as the major arm’s length federal arts funding body.
  7. The return of money from the Catalyst Fund budget to the Australia Council. If Catalyst continues to exist it should be with greater transparency of grant allocation and through new money found outside the current arts budget.
  8. A greater and more collegiate collaboration between the Ministry for the Arts, the Australia Council and the state arts funding agencies so that a truly national grid exists to support art form and audience development.

We know that Western Australian’s value the role of arts and culture. A 2015 survey conducted by the Department of Culture and the Arts showed that:

  • 95% of Western Australians consider it important for children to access arts and cultural activities as part of their education;
  • 81% had attended an arts and culture event in the past 12 months; and
  • 77% believe that the government should invest in arts and cultural activities.

It is now time to ensure the candidates for the Federal Election understand how important arts and culture is to WA voters.  We are asking you as a member of the Chamber to help make arts and culture an issue in this election by:

  • Contacting your local Federal candidates and expressing your concerns as a member of the industry;
  • Engaging with and encouraging your own networks – your audiences, supporters, family, friends and stakeholders – to contact their Federal candidates to demonstrate the broader impact that the current state of arts funding and lack of a coherent arts policy has on the community; and
  • Spreading the message about the damage being done to the sector to the broader community.



The Chamber have put together a template email/letter that you can download, personalise and send to your local federal candidates. You can add or remove content based on what you feel is appropriate for yourself and your organisation. You can also include information on the economic, social and cultural contributions you/your organisation makes in your community.


To make arts and culture an important issue for candidates they must hear voices beyond the arts sector raising their concerns for the damage being done to the industry. The voters are your audiences, stakeholders, families and friends.
The recent cuts to federal arts funding sends a clear message that the arts is not valued by government. By “widening the net” of voices speaking up for arts and culture we can send the message that Western Australia does value the arts.
We encourage you to modify the letter template above and send it to your networks encouraging them to contact their federal candidates.
You can also distribute the Chamber’s policy position paper below.


While what has been happening to the arts and culture sector has been big news within the industry the general community is still largely unaware of the impact that federal decisions will have on their ability to access, participate and enjoy arts and culture in their communities. We need to get those messages out in the public space. You can contact your local and community newspapers and radio stations with information regarding the impact of federal decisions on your programs and staffing. You should use social media to share information and contact candidates. Remember personal stories make the biggest impact on audiences.

For assistance or advice contact or on 08 9211 7681.

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