Update: saving cultural data

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Sector backlash to ABS cuts has seen cultural ministers prioritise cultural data collection.

Image: 10,000 paper planes – Aftermath(1) by Ross Coulter via johnmcdonald.net.au

The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) announcement in June that it would discontinue its work in the area of collecting data on cultural activities was considered a great loss, and has prompted a powerful backlash from the arts sector, which depends on cultural data for funding and public support.

‘The industry only really got wind of this around July, and we started lobbying the Meeting of Cultural Ministers (MCM) to have this turned around because it is incredibly important data,’ said John Oster, Executive Director, Regional Arts Australia.

The MCM has been involved in collecting data and research on the industry for quite some time, working with the ABS for over 20 years in what was historically a 50-50 funding arrangement. In an attempt to reduce expenditure by about $50 million over three years, it was this ABS-funded component that is to be discontinued.

Madeleine Dore

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