As promsied, this week I’m looking at the fine print of Australian cultural funding.
Today I’m looking at funding by artform category. As you can see from the graph below, the big ticket items are parks and environment funding, public broadcasters, libraries and art galleries.
You can get a bigger jpeg of the graph above by clicking through on the image (it’s a link to a bigger file).
Here is the data table for the graph, which helps you understand the breakdown.
|Radio and television services||$1279m|
|Film and video production and distribution||$198.1m|
|Other museums and cultural heritage||$192.7m|
|Visual arts and crafts||$59m|
|Other performing arts||$43.1m|
|Performing arts venues||$38.3m|
|Literature and print media||$35.3m|
|Music theatre and opera||$25.5m|
|Music composition and publishing||$2.2m|
A few notes on definitions: I’ve collated this data from the publication Cultural Funding by Government 2007-08 by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. (I’ve used operational funding only, ignoring capital funding for this purposes of this exercise.) Being the ABS, it has collected this data from various state, territory and local governments, as well as Canberra. As such, the data is what has been provided to the ABS. The very large figure for “Other arts” reflects this problem: it is principally made up of a big figure from local government sources that obviously weren’t able to break their figures down for the ABS survey. In addition to this, some of the states and territories have classified their “Other arts” slightly differently. And, of course, none of this even gets into the conceptual difficulties of classifying converging, hybrid or cross-over artworks (for instance, is a program to fund VJs at a rock festival visual art, is it multimedia, or is it musical performance?).
Some of the categories are not immediately obvious. “Radio and television services” basically means the ABC and SBS. “Film and video production and distribution” is largely made up of Screen Australia and the various state film funding bodies. The ABS doesn’t really explain what “Archives” consist of – for instance, is the National Film and Sound Archive part of this category? I’m assuming so, but I don’t really know.
Further more, and this is quite interesting, the ABS states that
Funding by government for major institutions which specialise in education of a cultural nature, such as the National Academy of Music, the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), the Australian Ballet School and the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS) has been included. Funding for special libraries (e.g. Parliamentary libraries), libraries in higher education institutions and schools is excluded.
I’m not sure I really understand this one – while most of us would agree that NIDA and AFTRS are pretty cultural places, the Parliamentary Library is also nothing if not a cultural institution, and in fact does a rather good job of researching Australian cultural and media policy.
But, as you can see, the big dollars are going to the big public sector cultural organisations: parks and wildlife departments, public broadcasters, libraries, museums and art galleries. Another point worth making is that the entire Australia Council budget is only $175 million out of this total figure of more than $5 billion – more than half of which goes to 29 major performing arts organisations. We can infer that relatively little funding goes to ordinary working artists – something I’ll have a look at later this week. I’ll also attempt to match these funding figures to some of the other cultural data the ABS provides.