#AusVotesArts at the Federal Election

Monday, June 20, 2016
Kate Larsen

Vote for arts and writing
Art changes lives

On Saturday 2 July 2016, Australians will head to the polls to cast our votes in the Federal election.

Here's a summary of what might be in store for writers, readers and the literary sector to help #AusVotesArts

Key policy issues

The advocacy efforts of our sector over the last year have put arts firmly on the election agenda for the first time since 1996.

Click on the links below to catch up on some of the key policy issues for the writing and arts sector this election: 

Or catch up on the video of the recent National Arts Election Debate in Melbourne. 

Party priorities

In alphabetical order:

The Arts Party released an Arts and Heritage Policy One-Pager in May. 

  • In terms of Federal arts funding, the Arts Party has called for immediate full implementation of last year's Senate Inquiry recommendations including full return of Australia Council funding removed from the 2014 and 2015 budgets plus tripling of the budget to be distributed through grants. Their position is that the Catalyst program would continue with separate new funding and more transparent funding decisions.

The Greens were the first to launch a full arts policy in May.

The Labor Party followed with their arts policy launch in June.

The Liberal Party has yet to release an arts policy.

  • In terms of Federal arts funding, Arts Minister Mitch Fifield said at the National Arts Election Debate that he was “wary of government dictating from on high the direction arts should go" (though this is one of the criticisms of the Catalyst program he oversees). So far, the Government has ignored the Senate Inquiry recommendations to return the money cut from the Australia Council in full. 
  • In terms of the Productivity Commission report, Minister Fifield reaffirmed the government’s intention to remove parallel importation restrictions at the debate, but did not specify a particular timeline.
  • When asked about the Coalition’s vision for the arts at the National Arts Election Debate, Fifield said that there was one but didn't elaborate on what it might be. As Ben Elthem reported in The Guardian, "When asked about the funding cuts to the Australia Council, he said the government still supported the Australia Council. When asked about job losses in the cultural industries, he said that the Turnbull government’s tax cuts to business would grow the economy and this would eventually flow through to artists."

How to vote for writing

There are a number of different ways that you can help get the voice of writers heard before, during and after the election.

1. Add your voice

Make sure to sign the Stop Parallel Importation, Art Changes Lives and I Stand With the Arts petitions online.

And write to your local federal MP and/or the federal Arts Minister to register your concerns.

2. Spread the word

Join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter using the #AusVotesArts or #IStandWithTheArts hashtags.

Or use some of these handy tweet-sized messages to start your own social media campaign in the leadup to the election: 

3. Vote for writing

Get to know the parties’ arts policies (above) and cast your vote for whoever you think will best support our literary ecology.

4. Put your money where your mouth is

In the wake of the recent federal arts funding decisions, writers, artists and organisations have already started to suffer. But while we wait on the outcome of the big-picture issues, there are a number of things we can do on a grass-roots level as well. 

“Everyone can make a difference”, Madeleine Dore wrote in Artshub, “subscribe to literary journals, see local productions, buy books by local authors, join local arts organisations, commit to the arts every week. Go and see some art.”

5. Keep up the pressure

Our advocacy efforts don’t end with the election. Make sure you stand up for what’s important to you – whether that’s affordable education, improved disability access, better conditions to #paythewriters or anything in between. For some great tips on how to advocate for the arts, check out the Regional Arts Victoria Advocacy Toolkit.

About Kate Larsen

Kate is the Director of Writers Victoria.

Add new comment