With the federal election called for Saturday 21 May, the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) has launched its #VoteForArt campaign aimed at increasing government support for the visual arts to help unlock the full social and economic potential of the sector.
“Supporting visual arts and culture is essential for our national identity and wellbeing. In times of need Australians turn to the arts,” said NAVA’s Executive Director Penelope Benton. “During the pandemic, 73% of Australians sought out arts and culture to improve their mood and quality of life.”
The campaign calls on federal election candidates to support five key policy priorities:
1. Put First Nations first
2. Stimulate long-term sustainability
3. Pay artists for their work
4. Prioritise equity, cultural safety and accessibility
5. Nourish arts education
“All Australians would benefit immensely from ambitious visual arts and culture experiences – 98% of us already engage with the arts. Strategic policy and funding investment would have a lasting impact for public health, employment growth, social cohesion, tourism, and quality of life for all Australians,” said Benton.
“Without a bold vision for arts and culture, we risk losing a generation of artists and cultural assets that power the richness and diversity of Australia’s national identity. The key messages of the campaign are: Visual Arts and Culture are Everywhere, Visual Arts and Culture are Essential, and Visual Arts and Culture is for Everyone.”
NAVA urges incoming members of parliament to commit to bold arts policies that will boost the entire economy and quality of life for all Australians.
More specifically within the five policy priority areas are a number of key recommendations including:
• Targeted financial support for self-determined First Nations artists and small-to-medium arts organisations.
• A whole-of-government national cultural plan to support the medium and long-term needs of the arts sector as recommended by the parliamentary inquiry report Sculpting a National Cultural Plan: Igniting a post-COVID economy for the arts.
• A National Exhibitions and Events Business Insurance fund to provide direct support to artists, sole traders, venues and small-to-medium organisations impacted by pandemics, natural disasters and other crises.
• $133 million in peer-assessed arts funding for independent visual artists and small-to-medium organisations through the Australia Council.
• Increased funding for arts education in schools and universities and reduced tuition fees for arts subjects.
The campaign also encourages voters to use their vote to support candidates with a bold vision for visual arts and culture. Get involved by taking NAVA’s online pledge and contact your local MP and candidates, asking them to support the visual arts sector.
Recent research from NAVA shows that a majority of Australian visual artists and arts workers remain deeply concerned by income security, program cancellations and reduced sales due to the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, and 1 in 7 visual arts organisations experienced closures since the arrival of the Omicron variant.
While the pandemic has had particularly devastating impacts on the arts and culture sector, visual artists and arts organisations continue to sustain their community value through the critical contribution they make to social cohesion, mental health and wellbeing, especially during periods of recovery.
“A strong arts and cultural sector is critical to Australia’s future,” said Benton. “With support from the federal government, visual arts, craft and design would boost the entire economy as well as inspire the nation.”
For more information on NAVA’s Vote For Art campaign, visit: www.nava.net.au for details.
Image: Betty Kuntiwa Pumani, Antara, 2020. Synthetic polymer paint on linen, 300 x 1000cm. Commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art for The National 2020. Photo by Meg Hansen Photography. Image courtesy the artist, Mimili Maku Arts and the Copyright Agency © the artist.