businesswoman Christine Christian challenges Labor to provide long-term support for Australia’s cultural institutions

“It’s an opportunity for the current government to provide a genuine legacy, to build on the cultural offering that will continue to enrich the lives of Australians for centuries to come.”

Mr Burke will unveil the policy in Melbourne on January 30. The release comes after six months of national consultations and builds on arts policies introduced by the Keating and Gillard governments.

The policy will be built on including “First Nations first” and “a place for every story”, as well as “the centrality of the artist”, “strong institutions” and “reaching the audience”.

Mr Burke has already indicated that badly needed extra funding would be in the May budget for cultural institutions, though the budget process is still under way.

Advised by expert panel

The arts and entertainment sector contributed about $14.7 billion in value-added gross domestic product in 2018-19, before the pandemic. Arts think tank A New Approach puts the value of Australia’s cultural and creative economy at $111.7 billion, or about 6.4 per cent of the whole Australian economy.

Labor is being advised by an expert panel in the development of its arts policy, including philanthropist Janet Holmes a Court; chief executive of the Australia Council for the Arts, Adrian Collette; performer Alysha Herrmann; performer and choreographer Sinsa Mansell; visual artist Kitty Taylor; author Christos Tsiolkas; and historian, author and broadcaster Clare Wright.

Miss Christian told The Australian Financial Review arts and cultural institutions had been funded on a piecemeal basis for too long. Key offerings and critical infrastructure were at risk, including at institutions such as the National Gallery of Australia and the National Library.

She urged Mr Burke and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to be ambitious and seize the moment. Melbourne’s historic State Library was founded as the first public library in Australia 166 years ago.

Founder Sir Redmond Barry wanted to create a “people’s university” in the fledgling colonial capital.

“This national cultural policy will provide a road map for Australia’s future,” Ms Christian said. “The arts are vital to the flourishing of a rich national culture and a free society, and our research tells us that a majority of Australians do favor public support of the arts

“We are optimistic about the policy and we hope it will be a game changer for the sector.”

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