Restructure of Federal Government Department of the Arts – A Response from Writers Victoria

Friday, December 20, 2019
Writers Victoria Committee of Management

Writers Victoria expresses its dismay at the Federal Government’s decision to abolish the Department of Communication and the Arts and incorporate it within the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (with no headline mention of Arts).

The decision to demote the Arts from its appointed department is a deeply concerning announcement for us, one which indicates that the cultural and creative activities of Australia are not, and will not be, a priority for the current government.

Writers Victoria believes that amalgamating the Arts into a Department of four other headline-mentioned industries in no way represents the important role that cultural and creative activity plays in our society. We also do not feel this is an appropriate portfolio to extend from.

This decision comes as a shock. According to the Bureau of Communications and Arts Research (BCAR), in 2016-17, the Arts (cultural and creative activity) contributed $111.7 billion to Australia's economy[1]. By contrast, the combined financial commitments of federal, state, territory and local governments across Australia in 2017-18 was less than 7% this total, at $6,863 million[2].

This level of sector support is not sustainable for a growing industry, nor does it meet or match population growth and demand. With news of the merge and the loss of Departmental identity, we now face heightened concerns that the current Arts funding arrangements will also not be boosted to meet necessary increase.

While we disagree with the decision the Federal Government has made with regards to this restructure, our commitment to the arts in Victoria is unwavering. Every one of our members and the writing community across regional, rural and metro Victoria deserves the opportunities they would have in any other profession.

We are proud of the work we do - the work you, our writing community, does - and will look to continue to provide you with new opportunities, learning and networking services and events for both those emerging and established in their careers.