Reports & Research

Government and Independent, General and Discipline-Specific

This page includes direct links to source pages and pdfs of reports and resources for federal and state arts in general, as well as for each discipline. Each section is preceded by a short contextual summary. The documents linked to have been copied, in the event of their live versions become inaccessible. Please suggest any other reports or research you come across by e-mail or spreadsheet.

General Federal and State Reports

CONTEXT: Historically, the Arts have been handled by the Department of Communication and the Arts. The Australia Council is the federal body responsible for funding the arts, and the DLGSC's Culture and the Arts subdivision is WA's state body.

The most dramatic recent change in the arts landscape was the 2019 Morrison Government decision to remove the Department of Communication and Arts, and subsume its role to the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications. The decision to abolish the existence of a federal department that names and support the "Arts" has been condemned by Australian artists, who were not consulted in the process, nor had any warning of the change, and was announced just prior to the end of year closure of parliament to minimise opportunities for debate (see 1a, 1b and 1c).

The previous major change was the 2015 budget, in which George Brandis took around a third of the Australia Council's funding and redistributed it to a "National Centre for Excellence in the Arts" under his own control without consultation or warning. This shift disadvantaged small to medium-scale art sectors, reduced creative freedom, and was strongly criticised by the arts community as a private "slush fund" that marked a shift from arts funding being at arm's length from government. Some of these funding cuts were restored in a policy reversal, but not enough to satisfy practicing artists (see (see 2a, 2b, 2c, 2e, 2d, 2e).

These trends and recurring cuts to the arts could be seen as resulting from a stereotypical view of the Arts and Humanities as unproductive, compared with the quantifiable products of traditional industries. For example, in 2016, Education Minister Simon Birmingham's stated that much training in the "creative arts" was a "lifestyle choice" when he cut funding to over 60 creative arts courses (see 3a and 3b), implying the issue was one of prioritising commercially viable careers and industries over wasting time and money on naive dreams of an artistic life. However the arts has been quantified in economic terms at $111.7 billion dollars a year by the government's own reports (see 4a ), its intangible benefits, such as mental health and a sense of community, have been quantified by government surveys (4b), and the LNP systematically subsidises industries and projects that are not economically viable (see 5b , 5b, 5c , 5d).

Morrison's ostensible reason for the removal of the Arts department was to "bust congestion", but as it is self-evident that placing more things in the same space leads to increased congestion it is necessary to view the move in relation to the LNP's broader policies and rhetoric. From this one can identify four general ideological positions that explain the present attitude towards the arts in Australian politics:

  • The LNP's fundamentalist/conservative Christian wing supports "traditional values" that are at odds with "modern progressive" values on issues of race, sex, class and religion (see 6a, 6b, 6c and 6d). This is evident in the LNP funding private schools over public schools, funding chaplains over professional counselors, protecting the Church and individual priests despite evidence of paedophilia, criminalising same sex marriage, forcing a protracted and painful referendum before re-legalising same sex marriage, blocking the Safe School program, and so on.
  • The LNP's neoliberal wing espouses a "trickle down" view of the economy, in which unregulated competition and greed is assumed to have a positive effect on society through job creation and price reduction (see 7a, and 7b). Those who seek to regulate or criticise any aspect of the market and business are dismissed through 20th-century anxieties as communist, socialist or more broadly "leftist" (see 8a, 8b, 8c, 8d , 8e, 8f and 8g). This is evident in the anti-Labor and anti-Green prapaganda of Murdoch newspapers, the watering down of monopoly laws on behalf of media owners like Murdoch, the demonising of the unemployed and welfare, the robodebt scandal, systematic attacks on unions, and most noticeably reducing taxes for the wealthy, such that some of the wealthiest companies pay little to no tax.
  • The LNP's nationalist wing views migration and multiculturalism as a threat to Australian culture, economy and borders. This is obviously more explicit in the rhetoric of the Nationals and extremist parties like One Nation, but is mainstream in the policies of both major parties towards migrants, refugees and offshore detention, notably the "stop the boats" rhetoric, claims that refugees are illegal, and notably Morrison's $180+ million photo opportunity opening Christmas island (for a family of four) and "how good is?" platitudes about Australia.
  • The above find common ground in an authoritarian view that is threatened by any education or free expression that provides historical perspective and the intellectual tools for criticising the media and structures of power. Authoritarians prefer a quiet, obedient population, as reflected in Morrison's reference to "quiet Australians", but is more substantially evident across the LNP's cuts to education, consolidation of police powers, hardline views against migrants and asylum seekers, pushes for facial recognition and other mass surveillance, the criminalisation of whistleblowing, refusal to crackdown on corruption, raids on the ABC, call for public shaming and punishment of protesters, Dutton's comments that parliament stands in the way of governance, and so on (e.g. 9a and 9b).

The "high arts" are, of course, often stereotyped as traditional or conservative, while "commercial art" tends to be conformist, uncritical and profitable, which makes them palatable to the above positions. However, "contemporary art" is stereotyped as non-traditional, progressive, left-leaning, open to diversity, and anti-authoritarian, and so is a clear ideological threat on all four of the above fronts.

To exemplify this, it is worth noting that artists are the sort who are eager to point out contradictions like those below:

  • The religious fervour with which neoliberalism is pursued only makes sense because it has no supporting evidence and can only be taken on faith (e.g. 10a, 10b, 10c).
  • Conservatives support neoliberalism despite it embodying Christian sins, i.e. reducing the world to monetary terms and promoting greed as good (Mammon), the sloth of landowners who passively earn rental income, disdain of the poor as morally deserving of their poverty ("prosperity Gospel"), the related arrogant notion that the wealthy are morally superior and born to rule ("Social Darwinism"), as well as the dismissal of compassion for the vulnerable ("bleeding hearts") as a weakness (e.g. 10d, 10e, 10f ).
  • Although proponents of neoliberalism attack "socialism" as a threat to capitalism, Australia has a long history of government-owned infrastructure (e.g. hospitals and roads), most accept some form of social safety net is necessary (e.g. for the disabled), and neoliberals are "corporate socialists" in that they lobby for, and justify, public subsidies and tax cuts for private companies and the wealthy (e.g. 10g, 10h, 10i).
  • Nationalists paradoxically view immigrants as taking jobs while bludging on welfare and as contaminating Australian culture while refusing to integrate, oppose Islamic headgear while covering their faces when protesting to avoid being recognised, and buy into the rhetoric of "stopping the boats" while the majority of illegal immigrants come by plane (e.g. 10j, 10k, 10l).
  • Authoritarians invoke a double standard when they argue that people should not object to their privacy being violated if they has nothing to hide, but resist scrutiny when under criticism, as with the LNP's refusal of freedom of information requests in relation to environmental policy, union-busting and allegations of misconduct (e.g. 10m, 10n).
  • The LNP appeals to many voters on the basis of classical liberal issues such as individual rights and free speech, but their leadership deploys those rights defensively to protect conservative sexism and racism, not to actively support the rights of those with different opinions, and actively shuts down the free speech of public servants and non-government organisations (and, as noted above, has criminalised whistleblowers) (10o, 10p, 10q, 10r).

Frustrations aside, it must be noted that no party is singular or beyond contradiction: many individual LNP ministers and supporters genuinely profess 'socially liberal' values that include support for the arts and the right to dissent, and Brandis' comment that people "have the right to be bigots" was technically true (just uncomfortable, and problematic because it de-emphasised the salient point that people in Australia do still have free speech, just not freedom from the consequences of the speech).

It also is worth emphasising that Labor's working class culture is predisposed to dismiss education and the arts as elitist, which may make LNP attacks on the Arts more palatable. However, owing to the LNP's profound ideological fractures, Labor policies have historically better supported individual rights, free expression, and the Arts (see 11a, 11b and 11c), even if, along with the old Democrats and the Greens, the right tends to feel under-represented by them as their bigotry is criticised when they do speak.

Regardless of the prevailing party or policy, the arts sadly is one of the first areas to lose government funding and public support during periods of economic concern(see 12a), and most artists form a disparate underclass that is underpaid relative to their skills and the value they can provide for their community (see 13a, 13b and 13c). Most important, few artists can sustain themselves by their craft and are likely to have a separate 'day job' (as is reflected in the reports below). Lastly, even if one thinks of creatives as a "class", funding opportunities for the arts are never equal, with some arts, media or genres supported over others, and even within each discipline "high art" usually gains priority for funding at the expense of individual artists and community art projects.

Federal and State Government Reports, Plans & Frameworks

[Many government reports are effectively independent, in that they are conducted by universities. Government responses to reports are a more accurate barometer of prevailing policies.]

[The Australian Government’s arts funding and advisory body. Annual reports go back to 2009-10.]

[Western Australian arts funding and advisory body. The research hub contains culture and the arts research projects, statistics and links to summary reports and publications about culture and the arts in Western Australia.]

  • Information on the National Local Government Cultural Forum and the Cultural Planning Framework methodology can be found on CDN's website.
  • The Arts, Culture and Heritage team also is responsible for delivering a number of significant outcomes as part of the City of Perth’s 2018/2019 Reconciliation Action Plan.

General Reports

Event Reports

Articles

Games Reports & Research

CONTEXT: The global game industry in 2019 is worth over $150 billion and Australians spend over $4 billion on games, but Australia only generates $118 million, meaning the local industry is missing many opportunities (see here and here).

There are several major factors influencing the game industry in WA and Australia overall. Some of these factors are unrelated to policy. First, Perth's isolation, which impacts travel and cost, has historically alienated it from the once successful Eastern States game industry, and second, partly as a consequence, WA once suffered a skills shortage, making Perth less attractive to overseas developers. This is now less of an issue given the number of accredited tertiary courses teaching game design and development. Third, the global financial crisis (GWC) led to many global companies withdrawing from the Australian market and weakened local companies (see here). Fourth, Perth's major game company, Interzone, was compromised by its managers, who stole the company's IP after failing to pay its employees (see here, here and here).

Other factors influencing WA's game industry were policy-related. First, the WA state Liberal government stopped local support for the industry when it gained power, such that former collaborations between government and teaching institutions (i.e. its 'digital incubation' approach) evaporated. Second, the coalition government cut Labor's $10m funding for games (the AIGF) (see here and here), such that Australia provided zero federal funding for games. Third, a government report on the games industry was released in 2016, after pressure from the Greens and especially Scott Ludlum. The report's conclusions proposed reinstating federal funding given the successes of the AIGF, but the government sat on the report for two years and then stated it would not act upon any of the recommendations (see links below).

A fourth, related policy factor is Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull 's implementation of the Australian National Broadband Network (NBN), which was downgraded from fibre-optics to a technology-mix to distinguish its policy from Labor before the election and in support of Murdoch's commercial interests (see here, here and here). This had an indirect effect on the digital game industry by way of the $20+ billion blowout cost, which could have been distributed elsewhere, as well as a direct effect in that its inferior infrastructure is a factor in game development workflows (see here). Ironically, gamer's have been erroneously blamed for slow internet speeds and used as an excuse to argue for raising NBN costs (see here).

Given these issues, Perth's present game scene is small and indie-driven. However, there has been a resumption of funding under the current WA Labor government under the guidance of Screenwest, specifically the games industry growth pilot scheme which actively engaged with the game community (see here, here and here).

Game Reports

Games Articles (Non-refereed)

Organisations

  • DIGRA - official Australian chapter of the International Digital Games Research Association.

Music Reports & Research

CONTEXT: Perth has a high concentration of original bands, but its isolation has limited its integration into musical touring networks. This, as well as the collapse of music events such as the Future Music Festival, Stereosonic, Big Day Out and Soundwave has affected opportunities for local musicians to gain visibility. Perth also has a high turnover of music venues, with many closing over the last few decades, and many bar owners consider live music less profitable than DJs or recorded music (see here and here). The old Perth Entertainment Centre, which closed in 2002, was replaced by the idiosyncratic Perth Arena in 2012, and the new Challenge Stadium also has the capability to serve as a music venue. However while this has made Perth more attractive to international performers, such venues are beyond the reach of most local performers.

Owing to such issues, the viability of Perth and WA bands has been dependent upon internal support networks, including mutual attendance at each other's performances (see here). Nonetheless, some events such as In the Pines continue to be successful, local venues have been reinvigorated (in part by the 2018 reworking of the 2007 small bars license, see here and here; also here), and WAM and other local organisations still provide a range of resources to support musicians. Recently, WAM has auspiced Labor's $3m Contemporary Music Fund to support local talent (see here and here).

Music Reports

Music Articles (Non-Refereed)

Music Research (Refereed)

WA Music

Australian Music

Art, Design and Animation Reports & Research

CONTEXT: While the visual arts perhaps has the most cultural capital of the creative arts, this stereotypically extends to a high-end gallery culture in which wealthy people seek status through association with art whose value is governed by a self-interested clique of gallery owners (see here and here). Not only is this economy inaccessible to the regular artist, Australia historically has defined itself with working-class values, in which art is viewed as unproductive. While many Australian's ostensibly value and/or engage with the arts (see here and here), the reality is that the average visual artist not only has to struggle to ideologically justify their existence, they struggle to be respected enough to be paid in more than 'exposure'.

Designers arguably have even less cultural capital than everyday visual artists, as their work is subsumed to an industrial process and they are rarely accorded the status of artists. While famous architectural and interior designers may have cultural capital in a manner analogous to gallery or corporate art, the role of individual designers is rarely understood, recognised or appropriately valued. Designers usually are employed by design companies, e.g. as a graphic designer or UI/UX designer, or work as freelancers, networking for contracts outsourced work by companies that do not employ a full-time designer.

Animation similarly is poorly supported and under-recognised in Perth. WAnimate, the peak local body, is a not-for-profit that runs the 3|Thirty Competition and WAMBam, but it receives zero government funding. Technically animators could fall under the umbrage of ScreenWest, but increasingly are competing for limited funding with film, games and VR. While there are some local animation companies, or one might find work doing videos or simulations for mining and architecture (alongside games and VR), generally the scene is quiet. Events rely on sponsors, the largest being Harmony, Storm FX, Event Cinemas, Wacom and Disney, with ScreenWest occasionally contributing. Local animators often are best served liasing with the national and global scene, doing regular challenges such as those run by the 11 Second Club, and cultivating a strong online presence, e.g. YouTube or other video channels.

Visual Arts/Design Blogs/News

Performing Arts Reports & Research

CONTEXT: While 'high culture' performing arts are generally well-funded (as evident in the federal Major Performing Arts framework and in Perth's State Theatre Trust and the Perth Festival) local theatre and dance generally is under-funded and under-appreciated in working-class Australia. Even where it has become popular, e.g. at events such as the Fringe Festival, many artists often are lucky to cover costs (see here, here and here). Given the social benefits of live theatre, there are many opportunities in terms of how Perth could support a stronger culture of performing arts, especially in suburban areas.

Writing Reports & Research

CONTEXT: The traditional publishing industry has declined with the growth of digital distribution, with many distributors closing, becoming more risk-averse, and/or diversifying into digital publishing and distribution (see Sector Review, below). At the same time, Australians tend to read more than one might expect, if one factors in digital formats (see here). Nonetheless, the traditional career of a writer, like many creative careers, requires personal sacrifice and risk, with little support, and opportunities for writers who seek to follow traditional publishing routes are slim.

There are, of course, many new avenues for self-publishing, e-books, print-on-demand, and engaging with audiences via social media, that are available to the entrepreneurial writer. Unfortunately, many individual writers tend to be isolated and lack a strong understanding of the business side of writing. Connecting with writing groups and mentors, or paying for the services of a publishing company to help with design, publishing and marketing, is the best approach for emerging writers.

The Sector Review focused on supporting writing in two categories: Creative Development (including supporting creative practice as well as career development) and Market Development (including promoting WA writers, exploiting international markets, promoting a stronger reading culture, stronger coordination of support agencies). The review provides a 'Writer's Services Table' (Table 6, p. 42) that summarises the kinds of services that may be useful to aspiring, emerging, developing and established writers.

WA Writing

Film Reports & Research

CONTEXT: FTI (see here) was the main incubator for emerging WA filmmakers for 47 years, but closed in July 2017. The obvious cause of this is roll on effects from infrastructure issues at FTI's Fremantle headquarters. The building, being heritage listed, required careful repairs which would have cost around $30 million, and while this was underway they moved to the State Library, but suffered from a range of government cuts and other budgetary challenges until they lost staff and collapsed.

The closure of FTI led it to be be folded into Screenwest (see here), leading to a loss of knowledge, resources and funding, and the WA's film sector is still adapting to the new framework. The most significant issue is the loss of funding opportunities such as Raw Nerve, Oomph and Link, although grants such as elevate 30 and Elevate 70 have emerged in their place. The WA Screen Awards (WASA) also has ceased to operate, and while some newer events such as Unlocked and the Goonie festival have emerged, there is still no WA specific award ceremony to fill its place; Cinefest has expressed interest in expanding its role in this area, but lacks funding.

Nonetheless, the film industry in Perth is still thriving. Funding opportunities do persist through Screenwest, including some forms of match funding, and there are opportunities in TV advertising, documentaries, children's television, and sports broadcasting. The relatively cheap costs of recording equipment, combined with the opportunities to network and distribute video through social media, and the ongoing range of screen courses, means that individuals and groups can still find recognition for good work.

Perth/WA Films

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