Initial observations from Australia’s 2019-2020 Cultural Funding by Government data 

14 October 2021

New Approach (ANA) has today released a Discussion Paper exploring how all levels of Australian governments have jointly invested in arts and culture, drawing on the newly released 2019-20 Cultural Funding by Government dataset, a year that included the first four months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The dataset provides an overview of federal, state and territory, and local governments’ support for arts and culture across Australia. This includes funding for national institutions, community festivals, public libraries and all the other activities and infrastructure that make up Australia’s diverse ecosystem of creative individuals and organisations.

CEO of ANA Kate Fielding said that “Although the data shows there was a significant increase in federal funding in 2019-20, this was the result of COVID-19 initiatives and it remains that case that significant cultural funding is provided by all three levels of government.

“Specific initiatives addressing the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on arts and cultural activities meant the federal government contributed 60.7 percent of cultural funding in 2019-20. However, when these COVID-19 initiatives are excluded, the proportion that each level of government has contributed remains relatively consistent with 2017-18,” said Ms Fielding.

“It tells us that government efforts to make the benefits of arts and cultural participation available to all Australians demonstrates a commitment by all three levels of government. The data also shows us that where you live significantly impacts the per capita financial support for cultural experiences from local, state and territory governments.

“This new data highlights the need for a national, strategic approach to cultural funding that clearly articulates the roles of all three levels of government in Australia and supports efficient and effective recovery from COVID-19.

A National Arts, Culture and Creativity Plan would be a useful step towards providing clearer policy direction and delivering equitable cultural funding for the benefit of all Australians.

ANA will continue advocating for a National Plan to ensure the expected public value outcomes of cultural expenditure are better measured and communicated and help us to imagine a future where Australia’s arts and cultural policy settings reflect the priorities of the 21st century,” said Ms Fielding.

Read the Discussion Paper, Sharing arts and culture: Initial observations from Australia’s 2019-2020 Cultural Funding by Government data.

Note, ANA released a follow-up to its second Insight Report The Big Picture: Public Expenditure on Artistic, Cultural and Creative Expenditure (2019) in Australia in March 2023: The Big Picture 3.

New Approach acknowledges that it meets, works and travels on the lands of First Nations peoples. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and to all First Nations peoples.