Indeed, a 2013 independent report by SGS Economics found investment in arts institutions such as public libraries generated a community benefit of $3.20 for every dollar invested.
But of course arts and cultural pursuits have a value that goes beyond the purely instrumental. Arts are truly fundamental to human wellbeing and should be valued as integral to the cultural heritage of NSW and as a part of our shared humanity.
Arts and cultural activities add a unique and irreplaceable dimension to the quality of life enjoyed by residents of all towns and cities and help to promote the long-term health and viability of communities.
Communities that develop and maintain a lively schedule of arts and cultural activities enjoy many benefits including:
- a stronger sense of community 'belonging'.
- improved local amenities as entertainment and exhibition spaces are maintained and upgraded.
- more opportunities to develop skills in practical, creative, technical and commercial fields of endeavour.
- more diverse career and employment opportunities in both local and other settings.
- increased social interaction, social cohesion and reduced isolation.
- enhanced tourism potential. enriched local history and folklore.
- greater recognition and respect for the value of local Aboriginal arts, culture & heritage.
This is why Greens believe it is a wise and appropriate choice for government to take an active role in developing secure, sustainable platforms for rural communities to create, participate and enjoy the benefits of arts and cultural activity.
Artists are also increasingly affected by the emerging political notion that their freedom of expression is somehow contingent upon the source of their funding. Greens believe that artists make an important contribution to the social and democratic life of NSW, including by reflecting upon and questioning the challenges of our complex and ever-changing society -- and that artists' freedom of expression should not be restrained or curtailed on political grounds, even if part of their funding happens to come from the government of the day.
NSW government programs and policies should afford opportunities to develop artistic, creative and complementary commercial skills through schools and TAFEs, and also promote the artistic and cultural needs, interests, health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, older people, people with a disability and people with mental ill-health.
However, under the funding and policy platforms adopted by both Labor and Coalition Governments of recent years:
- TAFE Fine Arts departments have largely disappeared.
- Artist-in-residence programs have been difficult if not impossible to sustain in many districts.
- Public/outdoor art programs have in many towns stalled or made slight progress.
- Many TAFE campuses have faced partial-week closures.
- There has been a severe erosion in NSW Government funding for local public libraries and the arts education programs and activities they sustain, from almost 25% to a paltry 7% share of public expenditure.
The severe limitation in the availability of local arts education courses through TAFE is of particular concern, as it is through such courses that the next generation of artists, both creative and commercial, will develop. This break in the continuity of NSW artistic tradition and talent is a grave development that amounts to "robbing the future" of its creative potential.
By the above omissions and inaction, those other parties show that they do not take as seriously as do the Greens the value of arts and cultural activities for NSW communities.
As a Greens NSW Senate candidate, I will work alongside our Parliamentary colleagues to secure the following outcomes for NSW residents:
- Restore the Australia Council.
- Oppose any attempt by government to limit artists' freedom of expression on political grounds.
- Restore Fine Arts courses for residents and employment for artists at TAFE campuses.
- Continue to support all established arts companies and programs in NSW.
- Secure a greater proportion of NSW government arts funding specifically for small and medium-sized organisations at local and regional levels.
- Restore funding for community radio and TV stations to serve rural communities.
- Increase per-capita funding to public libraries for Local Councils.
- Support Local Councils to develop their public arts programs including exhibition spaces, outdoor displays, education and artist-in-residence programs.
- Support programs for older residents including those in aged care to enjoy and participate in artistic and cultural activities.
- Support improved access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents to skills development courses in both traditional and new creative arts and cultural pursuits.
- Assess evidence of improved health and wellbeing outcomes arising from participation in arts and cultural activities, including for people managing mental ill-health.
- Increase support to artists' advocacy organisation to enable 'equal billing' for arts and cultural pursuits alongside other community activities.
- Develop access and promotion pathways for Australian artists to reach larger markets both here and overseas.
With your high preference in this preselection ballot, I can work to secure the above outcomes. Thanks for reading!