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LNP promises $9 million for arts as QLD election heats up

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Richard Watts

Promised initiatives include funding for regional arts infrastructure, professional development, and bringing the Pop-Up Globe Theatre to Brisbane.
LNP promises $9 million for arts as QLD election heats up

Brisbane will get a visit from the Pop-Up Globe Theatre if the LNP are elected to government. Image via www.facebook.com/PopupGlobe/

Queensland’s Liberal National Party (LNP) has promised an additional $9 million for the arts sector if elected to government on 25 November.

The LNP’s $9 million investment is in addition to money already allocated in the state budget, according to a statement from Opposition Leader and Shadow Minister for the Arts and Major Events, Tim Nicholls.

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Key initiatives flagged by the LNP include a $4 million Regional Arts Infrastructure Fund, a $1 million fund to activate the state’s ‘forgotten spaces’ and a $1.5 million professional development fund for community-based arts administrators and creatives.

‘I will deliver a new plan for the arts in Queensland that improves pathways for the next generation of artists and content creators, boosts vital infrastructure and make arts more accessible across the state,’ Nicholls said in a statement.

Other initiatives announced as part of the LNP’s Arts Without Boundaries policy include a $1.5 million Arts Education Fund, focused on providing opportunities for young artists in regional communities, and a Brisbane trial of the Pop-Up Globe Theatre, currently playing in Melbourne.

‘An LNP Government will build on the current arts and creative scene, investing $700,000 to host a Globe Theatre in Brisbane,’ said Nicholls.

The LNP have also promised to bring the arts sector together to chart a sustainable future for the state at an event called ArtsQ, based on the existing partnership between the Queensland Government and the tourism industry, DestinationQ.

Nicholls said investing in the arts was about creating jobs across Queensland.

‘The arts not only provides all Queenslanders with a way to share their experiences and thoughts but it is a major employer in our state,’ he said.

‘This is why the LNP’s plan will encourage artists and content creators to be innovators and have a career here in Queensland.’

In a separate announcement, the LNP also promised a $2.5 million investment to mobilise museum exhibitions across the state.

LNP Shadow Minister for Science, Innovation and the Digital Economy Tarnya Smith said: ‘Often families living in North and Regional Queensland miss out on viewing and interacting with … [capital city based] exhibits.

‘Under an LNP Government, we won’t ignore Regional Queensland and will ensure they have access to the same cultural experiences families have in the southeast.’

In June this year the Queensland arts budget received a boost of $43.1 million over four years, as part of the budget announced by Premier and Minister for the Arts, Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Read: QLD budget provides additional $43.1 million for the arts

That funding included a new Arts Infrastructure Investment Fund ($17.5 million over four years, with projects including upgrades of Queensland Theatre’s Bille Brown Studio and the Cairns Performing Arts Centre) and funding for Indigenous arts and regional arts, including the creation of an Indigenous arts incubator for start-up performance companies in Cairns.

Regional arts and First Nations-led projects were identified as funding priorities in a statement released last week by the Queensland Chamber of Arts and Culture.

Read: Queensland arts sector enters election mode

In a new statement provided to ArtsHub this week, the Chamber said it welcomed the release of the Queensland LNP's Arts Without Boundaries policy, in particular the commitment to new investment of $9 million over the next four years and the focus on employment, diversity and access.

'We call on the LNP to provide assurances that the $9m is new investment and not a rebadging of existing funds and that it will not make cuts to existing programs,' the statement noted.

The Chamber went on to call for the LNP to make a public commitment to provide a level playing field for Queensland artists and arts organisations. Based on the recently released national data, bringing the Queensland government’s investment in arts and culture in line with the national average requires an additional $70 million per year. 

Spokesperson Michael Lynch said: 'The announcement of $9 million of new money over four years is a step in the right direction, but it represents just 3% of the investment required to get Queensland back onto a level playing field with artists in other States and Territories. The LNP needs to share its plan on how it is going to fix this problem over the next four years. Given the cuts to arts funding under the Newman government, the LNP has lot more work to do if wants to square the ledger with the Queensland arts community. Priority areas like young people and First Nations arts and culture need urgent attention.'

The Chamber noted its support for the plan to bring the Queensland arts community together to chart a sustainable future and the commitment to a $4 million boost in funding for Regional Arts Infrastructure.

'We seek a confirmation from the LNP that fund will be available to all regional arts infrastructure, not just State Government assets,' the statement noted.

The Chamber also called on the LNP to implement in full the regional arts proposal developed by its Regional Art Working Group and to ensure its focus in regional arts investment is on long term, strategic development and building on the extensive consultation undertaken with the arts sector over the last two years. The proposed investment in reviving the Animating Spaces program should be in addition, not an alternative to the $6.5 million per year Regional Arts Working Group proposal. 

The Chamber also welcomed the new investment of $1.5 million in an Arts Access Fund and the focus on pathways for professional development of young artists, though noted its concern that, spread over four years, the fund will be too small to meet the sector's needs. While supporting the principle of targeting regional and remote areas of Queensland the Chamber recommends that the initiative is accessible to young people statewide. 

Spokesperson Katherine Quigley said: 'Queensland used to be recognised as the national leader in children and young people’s arts. We need investment in the development of a proper children and young people's arts policy for the whole state. The process needs to be driven by children and young people and specialist in this field.' 

Finally, the Chamber called on the LNP to clarify its position on supporting people with disability within the Arts Without Boundaries policy and to articulate its position on the role of the arts in the delivery of National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and the National Arts and Disability Strategy. 

About the author

Richard Watts is ArtsHub's Performing Arts Editor and Team Leader, Editorial; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on community radio station Three Triple R.

The founder of the Emerging Writers' Festival, Richard currently serves on the board of literary journal Going Down Swinging and on the Committee of Management for La Mama Theatre. He is a former member of the Green Room Awards Independent Theatre panel, a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and in 2017 was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Festival Living Legend.

Follow Richard on Twitter: @richardthewatts

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