Artists across Australia are speaking up to defend our sector disappearing in the latest public service shake-up.
Last week, the federal government announced that the Department of Arts and Communications would be folded into a ‘super department’ without arts in its name. The news has left artists and arts workers across Australia shocked and confused – and anxious that our needs and interests will be lost when our sector is subsumed into the new Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.
Read: Disappearing arts department: politicians respond
For many, this change represents yet another way in which the arts have been devalued at a federal government level, alongside funding cuts and a lack of policy leadership.
But there are plenty of ways you can speak up if you’re not happy with the change. Here are five.
1. Write to your local member
An easy way to register your dissent is to contact your local member of parliament. You can find your federal electorate through the AEC website and then look up your local member’s contact details here.
You might like to focus on how this decision will affect you personally as an artist, arts worker or art lover, as well as highlighting the importance of the arts to society at large.
Some possible talking points:
- Art and culture is a fundamental right, an expression of our shared humanity, and a powerful lens for a society to understand itself.
- The arts play a vital role in shaping our national identity and facilitating national dialogue.
- The arts bring significant benefits for health, wellbeing, and social cohesion.
- The value and importance of the arts extends far beyond its economic footprint, but the arts sector is also a substantial industry, with cultural and creative activity contributing over $100 billion to the Australian economy each year.
Remember to include your full name, your address as it appears on the electoral roll, and your contact details. If you write a letter or email, it might be worth following up with a phone call.
Our tight-knit community is one of the most powerful weapons we have as artists. As well as taking action individually, get together with other creatives to think about what you can do collectively, whether it’s issuing a joint statement on behalf of creators in a particular field of practice, or converging on an MP’s office to stage a piece of performance art.
3. Sign a petition
There are several different online petitions circulating about this issue, but currently the one that seems to have the most traction is a change.org petition that’s gathered more than 17,000 signatures.
4. Make noise on social media
Talk about the issue on social media and share how this impacts you and the organisations you work with. Use the hashtags #SaveTheArts and #InvisibleArts.
5. Tell your audience
A tremendous number of Australians engage with the arts every day: according to the Australia Council’s National Arts Participation Survey, 98% of Australians engage with the arts, and a growing proportion of the public sees the positive impact that the arts have on innovation, wellbeing, and shaping Australian identity. You can bring your audience into these conversations about the place of the arts in Australia, whether at live events or over social media, and encourage them to join the campaign to keep arts visible at a federal government level.