Are you aware of the large wads of artist / musician / culture targeted cash that goes up through national taxes and down through bureaucrats in Australia?

Far few musicians, artists, mums and dads are interested and aware of the economics of art in contemporary Australia. It’s your cash and it’s to the tune of $311 million dollars. How are these funds being allocated?

This is my current understanding of the system. Tax Payer. You. You pay taxes. That money you pay gets redistributed by our community leaders into Art. What art? We’ll see. Federal Government. They collect your taxes via the ATO. Lots of taxes. The Office For the Arts. This is the body within the government assigned to managing the nation’s arts and culture policy. Currently headed up by Labour’s Tony Burke. Australia Council for the Arts. Our nations peak grants funding body. They take cash from the Office for the Arts and hand it out to nation wide arts programs. They pick and choose stuff. NSW Government. My state. The state government receives funds from the federal government. I know – this is getting boring. Bare with me. Arts NSW‘s 2014 Arts Funding Program. This funding program distributes money raised through taxes and hands it out through grants to programs. You. You go out to enjoy some culture, you visit one of these supported arts organisations or artists, you perform or you pay again – tickets, and you then enjoy your art. You play. You listen. You create. You consume. Are you getting your money’s worth?

And now, this just in on plans for 2013 – 14 from Arts NSW.

The 2013-14 NSW Budget provides an investment of $311 million to support the State’s vibrant arts, cultural and screen sectors to build jobs and enrich communities.

Minister for the Arts, George Souris, said the 2013-14 Budget will provide $250 million – $185 million in operating grants plus $65 million for infrastructure upgrades – for the State’s world-class cultural institutions.

Mr Souris said the Government will also provide $51 million for Arts NSW’s 2014 Arts Funding Program (AFP) to support a wide range of arts and cultural activities, programs and projects across the State including specific categories to support regional activities.

Mr Souris said the 2014 Arts Funding Program highlights include:

  • $11 million for the State’s 11 major performing arts companies including the Australian Ballet, Opera Australia and Bangarra Dance Theatre;
  • New three-year funding commitments for the Museum of Contemporary Art and Carriageworks Ltd, totalling $15.3 million over the next three years;
  • $6.2 million to support the State’s major festivals – Sydney Festival, Sydney Writers’ Festival and Biennale of Sydney;
  • $2 million to the State’s 14 Regional Arts Boards to support sustainable arts and cultural development in regional NSW;
  • $1 million for 16 devolved grants programs which support opportunities for individuals and small arts and cultural organisations many of which are based in regional NSW. Five project categories solely focused on regional activities: Aboriginal Regional Arts Fund; Performing Arts Touring; Regional Capital; Regional Conservatorium and Regional Partnerships.

If you’re an artist getting started in Sydney – you’d be well advised to keep track of national arts funding. Given that door sales almost NEVER cover running costs, it’s important to keep an eye on what programs are ‘in favour’ and cut out your groove in that sector.

In such an abstract working space, it’s quite amazing to see some programs granted millions of dollars in funding whilst others left to fend for themselves. How does your Art fit into this economic picture?