Why we need to reform the Australia Council

Protests over a government decision to close the The Tote showed cultural policy matters. Photo: The Age / James Boddington

Marcus Westbury has an article in The Age today in which he asks whether the Australia Council has had its day.

We need a real debate about whether the well-intentioned but increasingly archaic central role of the Australia Council has had its day. Formed in the 1970s by the Whitlam government, the ”OzCo” introduced meaningful support for artists and organisations across theatre, dance, visual arts and literature for the first time. But times have moved on – or forward, as some slogans might prefer. The Australia Council’s structure and artistic focus are still hard-wired in an act written for it almost four decades ago. It defines both what culture is and how it should be administered in ways that are hopelessly out of date. As a result the Australia Council is increasingly irrelevant. It has had little meaningful engagement with the digital cultural revolution.

From today, Marcus and I are going to be campaigning for Australia COuncil reform. We’re calling for real and much-needed reform to the way the Australia Council operates, and to its funding responsibilities, and in more general terms, the entire cultural policy paradigm in this country. Specifically, we argue Australia needs a new cultural agency that will fund the new and contemporary cultural expressiosn the Australia Council won’t.

We’ve authored a book chapter for an upcoming Centre for Policy Developement book on the issue, which is up on the CPD website in full here.

Let the debate begin!


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