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Arts Funding in NSW

Arts Funding in NSW

Advice on legislation or legal policy issues contained in this paper is provided for use in parliamentary debate and for related parliamentary purposes. This paper is not professional legal opinion.
Briefing Paper 11/2010 by Lenny Roth and Todd Buttsworth

This paper provides an overview of arts funding in NSW.

Definition of the arts
It is important to define what the arts include for the purposes of this analysis. This paper largely adopts the classification system used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in its Cultural Funding by Government publication. The ABS classifies 'cultural activities' into two major groups: 'the arts' and 'heritage'. For our definition, we have included all of the ABS 'arts' categories except for 'radio and television services'; and we have excluded all of the ABS 'heritage' categories except for 'art museums'. The excluded 'heritage' categories are: 'other museums', 'environmental heritage', 'libraries', and 'archives'.

NSW Government: funding streams [2]
The arts are funded through a number of different funding streams. First, annual allocations are made to three statutory arts institutions, which form part of the eight 'State cultural institutions': the Sydney Opera House, the Art Gallery of NSW and Screen NSW. Second, Arts NSW makes grants to organisations and individuals, primarily under the Arts Funding Program. Third, funds are provided for maintaining and upgrading state-owned properties that are occupied or used by arts organisations. Fourth, the NSW Government provides incentives to attract major screen projects to NSW.

NSW Government: total funding and categories [3]
In 2008/09, the NSW Government contributed a total of $155 million to the arts. Performing arts venues received the largest share of this funding ($46 million), followed by art museums ($34 million). The various performing arts received $26 million, with about half of this being allocated to music performance. Since 2000/01 there have been significant fluctuations in government funding of the arts over some years. Notably, there was a large decrease in arts funding from 2007/08 to 2008/09. The fluctuations have primarily been due to changes in funding in two categories: art museums and performing arts venues.

Comparisons with other State Governments [4]
In 2008/09, both Victoria and Queensland had higher arts funding levels than NSW: Victoria by $70 million and Queensland by $62 million. However, in three of the last five years, NSW has had the highest levels of arts funding of all States. In 2008/09, the NSW had the lowest per capita arts funding ($22 per person). South Australia had the highest ($64), followed by Western Australia ($62), Queensland ($50), and Victoria ($42). Over the past five years, NSW has ranked no better than fourth out of all six States in per capita arts funding. One category where most States have had higher per capita funding than NSW over the last five years is film and video production and distribution.

Australian Government: funding streams [5]
Federally, the arts are funded through a number of different funding streams. Annual funding allocations are made to the two key arts funding bodies - the Australia Council for the Arts and Screen Australia – as well as to other national arts organisations. In addition, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet administers various arts funding programs. The Australian Government also offers tax incentives to encourage screen production. In 2008/09, national organisations received the largest share of grants made by the Arts Council of Australia, while grant recipients in NSW received the largest share of any State.

Australian Government: total funding and categories [6]
In 2008/09, the Australian Government provided over $555 million in arts funding across Australia. The performing arts received the highest amount of funding ($140 million), followed by 'other arts' ($136 million), film and video ($116 million), art museums ($100 million), and visual arts ($33 million). Information is not available on the distribution of total arts funding by State. From 2000/01 to 2006/07, arts funding increased from around $400 million to $450 million, while from 2007/08 to 2008/09 it increased by $20 million.

Comparisons with other countries [7]
There are a number of difficulties in making cross-country comparisons of government funding of the arts. A publication in 2000 by the International Arts Bureau provides some comparative statistics for a number of jurisdictions (including Australia) but it is based on figures for 1996/97 and it warns that 'the results must be regarded as indicative, rather than definitive'. In Canada, the office of national statistics publishes data on cultural funding but it is not entirely clear how much of this funding is on the arts and therefore only limited comparisons can be made between Canada and Australia.

Private sector funding of the arts [8]
In 2008/09, private sector support for the arts in Australia (including museums and libraries) was $212 million, which included $101 million in sponsorship and $111 million in donations. NSW received the largest share of private support (42 percent). The Australian Government promotes private sector support of the arts through tax deduction schemes. In addition, the Australian Business Arts Foundation (AbaF) and the Australia Council both act as intermediaries between the arts community and the private sector. State Governments in South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania have established Premier's Arts Partnership Funds. These provide matching grants for artists and smaller arts organisations that attract new sponsorship.