A new report released by independent think tank, A New Approach (ANA), shows local governments are seeing the value of arts and culture in their communities, and are responding by stepping up their financial commitment and playing a bigger role in support for arts and culture.
The report, The Big Picture: Public Expenditure on Artistic, Cultural and Creative Activity in Australia, looks at more than a decade of expenditure on arts and culture by the three tiers of government in Australia: federal, state and local governments (2007-08 to 2017-18). It identifies some basic international comparisons and, by synthesising available data, enables meaningful comparisons to be made now and into the future between different years, different levels of government and different areas of expenditure.
Key findings and insights
- Local governments are steadily increasing their funding commitment to arts and culture, stepping up expenditure by 11.0 percent per capita since 2007.
- Over the same period, state and territory governments have increased per capita expenditure by 3.9 percent, while the federal government’s per capita expenditure has fallen by 18.9 percent.
- In 2017-18 Australian public expenditure on arts and culture reached its highest point in the period reviewed (using adjusted figures). This was largely due to a significant increase in capital expenditure.
- Per capita public expenditure on arts and culture in Australia has dropped by 4.9 percent over the decade from 2007-08 to 2017-18.
- This reduction in funding has occurred at a time when Australia’s population has grown by 17 percent for the same period.
- Responsibility for cultural expenditure is closely balanced between federal (39.0 percent, down from 45.7 percent a decade ago), state and territory (34.8 percent, up from 31.9 percent) and local government (26.2 percent, up from 22.4 percent).
- Capital expenditure has consistently been a minor part (between 11 and 18 percent) of total cultural expenditure, however it is increasing as a proportion of the total.
- Between 2007-08 and 2017-18 capital expenditure per capita increased by 47.6 percent, while recurrent expenditure per capita decreased by 11.7 percent.
- Public expenditure from federal, state and territory governments is split fairly evenly between three overarching categories: Film, Radio and Television (32.5 percent, a new low); Museums, Arts Museums, Archives, Libraries and Cultural Heritage (37.7 percent) and Arts (29.7 percent, a new high).
- Australia is falling behind the rest of the world investing in arts and culture. Australia spends 0.72 percent of Gross Domestic Product on cultural activity, compared to 1.09 percent in other OECD countries.