‘Fund the Arts’ campaign launches before federal election, calling for much-needed funding to the arts sector

‘Fund the Arts’ campaign launches before federal election, calling for much-needed funding to the arts sector

Darren Middleton, founding member of rock band Powderfinger

Fund the Arts is a campaign aimed at increasing government investment in the arts after the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Run by advertising and PR turned non-for-profit heavyweights David Latham, Jonny Clow and Alex Wadelton, Fund the Arts (#fundthearts) is a collective campaigning for increased government investment in Australia’s arts sector. The group has support from inside the world of arts, including writers Kathy Lette, Joanna Murray-Smith, Clare Wright and Tony Wilson, musicians Darren Middleton of Powderfinger and Dave Williams of Augie March, actor Rhys Muldoon, indigenous artist Richard Bell, comedian Rod Quantock, publicist and co-founder of the Stella Prize Aviva Tuffield, and dancers Victoria Chiu and Holly Durant.

Their recent push comes in the wake of the German government’s recent €50 billion aid package for their national arts sector following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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By contrast, the Australian federal government has invested approximately $1 billion in aid for Australian arts organisations in its most recent budget.

Fund the Arts say that Australia’s arts industry has been “severely underfunded” for the past 25 years. They’re using the Australia Institute’s recent report Creativity in Crisis to call on the government to further invest in the following key areas:

  1. More Australian culture on our screens, speakers, walls, stages and pages

  2. More funding for our schools to generate the next wave of Australian musicians, actors, writers, performers and artists

  3. More support for small and local Australian artists

“The Australian government spent tens of billions giving JobSeeker to companies that didn’t need it, but there is nowhere near enough money for Australian arts and culture,’ says Ben Eltham. ‘The cultural industries employ more than 350,000 Australians, but they also produce cultural products of defining and lasting cultural value,’ says campaigner Ben Eltham.

“Think about films like Gallipoli or Muriel’s Wedding, musicians like AC/DC or Yothu Yindi, Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly paintings or Patricia Piccinini’s Sky Whale – these are artworks that the whole nation can enjoy for decades.

“Art and culture helps define our nation and character; it also makes us happy. With Australian screen content on services like Netflix at just 2%, the future of Australian culture is at risk. We need a policy roadmap to ensure all Australians continue to enjoy a rich and diverse cultural life.

“Arts and entertainment employs 193,000 people and contributes $14,7bn of value to GDP every year. We also know that the question of Australian cultural content is a concern that resonates across the electorate.”

Fund the Arts are running a public petition, you can find out more on their website.