For a Progressive Arts and Cultural Policy Agenda in Australia is a new statement by the Reset Arts and Culture collective that brings together key themes from last year’s conference Reset: A New Public Agenda for the Arts, and addresses ideas on how we as an arts and cultural sector might think bigger and more radically about our policy and advocacy work at this really important time.

Introduction to the full statement

Arts and cultural policy is in a deep crisis in Australia. And it’s not just because of the pandemic or years of cuts.

The fundamental basis of this crisis is generally accepted and is not of the arts and cultural sector’s making. For decades governments have imposed a logic of market efficiency and individualism on many areas of our economic, social, and public life; and this has come at great cost to public policy, the provision of fundamental rights and services, and to our collective sense of citizenship.

However while sectors such as health, education, social services, utilities, and public housing, have been privatised and outsourced, they are still viewed as public goods and collective rights. This has not been the case for art and culture.

Art and culture has not escaped neoliberalism’s gravitational pull; in fact, arguably, it has been more completely captured than many other areas of public policy. Art and culture’s worth has been substantially reduced in policy terms from collective value and rights to a troublesome concoction of economic growth and non-cultural metrics, industry development language, and individual consumer experience.

So, while progressive and radical ideas are expressed in much artistic and cultural practice by Australian artists, they are far less reflected in the arts and cultural sector’s policy work.

Reset Arts and Culture is a policy and advocacy initiative aiming to change this by putting progressive ideas back into arts and cultural policy, and art and culture back into progressive imagination and activism.

Listen to the statement