Arts West Letter to The Hon Paul Fletcher

The Hon Paul Fletcher MP
Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts.
Member for Bradfield, New South Wales

5th July 2019

Dear Mr Fletcher,

We are writing to you today on behalf of Arts West, to congratulate you on your recent appointment as Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts.

Arts West is a unique alliance of arts organisations and independent artists who together reflect the exciting, vibrant and ever-expanding arts and cultural sector thriving in Melbourne’s west. Our organisations and artists, work to create opportunities for communities to engage with Australia’s vibrant arts and culture; to reduce harm on vulnerable people; to alleviate the pressures on youth services by engaging young people; and create social and cultural cohesion through bringing people together to celebrate both diversity and difference and also a unified contemporary Australian story.

With over 18.8 million tickets sold throughout Australia in 2016, and with millions more reached through free events, education, social outreach and broadcast, the performing arts sector employs over 34,000 people, it generates secondary economic activity in hospitality and tourism, and it helps project Australia to the world. Arts Organisations, Artists and consumers are socially engaged and have power and influence over political discourse and sentiment. 

With an anticipated 32% population growth across the region before 2023, Melbourne’s Western Metropolitan region[1] is one of Australia’s fastest growing areas; and is represented by over 130 cultural groups and 150 languages (source: Lead West). Home to many artists and creative workers: the 2016 census showed us there were 14,023 people employed across cultural and creative occupations, accounting for 3.825% of the total electorate workforce, compared to 3.9% of the national workforce. (Source: Australia Council). As you would appreciate, access to creative opportunities and cultural representation are key drivers to influencing a cohesive and healthy community, full of active and engaged citizens.

Despite the sector’s success in returning some of the Catalyst Program funding to the Australia Council for the Arts - a campaign that we all contributed to through the 2014/2015 Arts Funding Senate Inquiry - successive cuts have meant that the Australia Council for the Arts remains unable to adequately fulfil its brief. We urge you to increase Australia Council funding to secure the creative future of this country and commit to investing a minimum $20 million of new funding to the Australia Council. This increase would enable greater representation from a diversity of artists, companies and artforms around Australia, and support arts organisations to build a sustainable financial model for growth over multiple years.

We stand beside our colleagues at Theatre Network Australia, and other peak Arts and Culture organisations and look forward to working with you and your Liberal Party colleagues to ensure our creative industries have a bright and secure future in Australia.  

We invite you to join us at a time convenient to you to discuss ways in which we can work together in ensuring Australia’s Art sector remains vibrant and continues to make a profound contribution to our national identity.

Thank you for your time in reading this letter and we look forward to your response.

Yours faithfully

Arts West

[1] Including the Electorates of Fraser, Gellibrand, Gorton, Lalor and Maribyrnong.