Federal election 2016: Who cares about the arts?

Wednesday, 22 Jun 2016

With less than two weeks to go until the sausages start sizzling and #ausvotes lights up Twitter, the arts are firmly on the election agenda. Funding cuts to the Australia Council and the loss of government support for many organisations has left the arts community reeling, and our own Sounds Australia is still seeking a funding solution to continue operating at its current level.

When it comes to music, there’s huge support for government investment in an industry that delivers massive returns culturally, socially and economically. 

Some 98% of respondents to a recent APRA AMCOS survey believe the federal government should invest in Australian music, and 72% confirmed that a commitment to invest in the sector would influence their vote.

Taking his dedication to the arts a few steps further than most is composer and APRA AMCOS Ambassador Christopher Gordon (pictured). The Screen Music Award winner is The Arts Party candidate in the seat of Bennelong, currently held by Liberal MP John Alexander.

“The government has decimated the arts and we have to do something about it,” says Christopher, who has composed scores for feature films including Master and Commander, Mao’s Last Dancer, Daybreakers and On the Beach.

While he is realistic about his chances of being elected, Christopher believes that running in the election is an opportunity to put arts on the agenda and to encourage dialogue. And although he’s only been a candidate for three weeks, he can already see the benefits of having a voice represent the arts on the political stage.

“I’ve been part of public forums about policy issues like the environment and education, and the arts crosses over into all. When I bring the arts into a debate, we’re entering the dialogue, and bringing the arts into the bigger picture.”

Christopher, who is self-funding campaign costs like advertising, signage and pamphlets, says he is essentially looking for protest votes to show that the arts matter, and to boost the chances of his party colleagues running for spots in the Senate.

“Voting for The Arts Party shows there’s strong support for the arts. We’re merely asking voters to put The Arts Party first, then to choose their own preferences.”

To help you make a decision when you go to the polls on 2 July, we’ve provided an overview of parties with arts policies below, and indicated where a specific commitment has been made to investing in music.

APRA AMCOS is a nonpartisan organisation. We support investment in the arts and a robust copyright framework that rewards creators for their work. We welcome commitments from all parties to fund the Australian contemporary music sector and specifically Australia's music export service, Sounds Australia, and the Live Music Office. Funding from the Australia Council has been secured for Sounds Australia and we are in discussions with the incumbent government to secure the additional funding required for both initiatives.  


ARTS POLICIES  

The Arts Party
The Arts Party wants to triple arts funding and see primary schools introduce mandatory music and art classes. Its core arts policy also includes the return of Australia Council funding and a 5% funding increase to national cultural institutions, while its music industry policy supports funding Sounds Australia and the Live Music Office.  It also has policies covering the film, TV & radio industry; education; venues & live performance and the digital arts & video game industry. Find all The Arts Party policies here and download their music industry policy here.

Australian Labor Party
The ALP has committed to investing in the music industry, with $5.4 million over three years earmarked for Sounds Australia, the Live Music Office and the Australian Music Centre. The party’s arts policy also includes returning funding to the Australia Council; growing regional arts; boosting music in schools; investing in local drama and consulting on copyright. Read more here.

The Greens
There has been a commitment from The Greens to restore funding to the Australia Council and to invest an additional $270.2 million over four years to grow the arts in Australia. Key components of the party’s arts policy include providing artists with a living wage, boosting artists’ superannuation and helping artists to create a career. Read more here.

Nick Xenophon Team

ArtsHub reports that the Nick Xenophon Team is calling for Australia Council funding to be restored to the pre-2015 budget level and for Catalyst funding decisions to face greater scrutiny and to be more transparent.

Pirate Party Australia
While the Pirate Party claims to support artists and live music through its cultural participation policy, it proactively attacks artists' rights by advocating for a reduced copyright duration of 15 years, and diluting the protection copyright affords in the remix and reuse of an artist's existing work. Read more here.

Photo credit: Jacquie Manning


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