Opinion: Labor’s plan for Canberra’s creative recovery

With the ACT election coming up, we hear from the ACT's current Minister for the Arts, Creative Industries and Cultural Events, Gordon Ramsay MLA, on his vision for the capital.

The arts reflect who we are as individuals. They help build community identity. They refresh us.

Individually, the arts contribute to our health and well-being – physical, mental and emotional. More broadly, our creative sector is a significant employer in Canberra, directly and indirectly supporting jobs and making vital contributions to our economy and community.

Over this past year, possibly more than usual, as a community we have turned to the arts and artists; it is right now that Government should turn to our artists and our creative sector with support for the future.

We recognise the immense social and economic value our creative industries provide to our community and we understand the importance of continued support for our local creatives during the pandemic.

With the ongoing impact of the pandemic on the creative sector, my immediate focus is to ensure that artists participate in and drive our city’s economic recovery.  On top of the substantial investments we have made here in the ACT throughout the first part of this pandemic, our commitments for the future of Canberra’s creative industries can be divided into four main areas:

  1. Building expanded infrastructure to support the creative sector
  2. Investments in individuals and organisations
  3. Developing a holistic creative industries policy
  4. Increased network supports and sector collaboration.

First and foremost, our creative recovery plan places a significant focus on job creation. If re-elected, an ACT Labor Government will continue to pursue large scale arts infrastructure projects that create jobs across our economy.

We have committed to continue work on completing the design and business case for a new Canberra Theatre and cultural precinct to create new jobs and attract bigger shows and concerts to the ACT.

If re-elected, an ACT Labor Government will continue to pursue large scale arts infrastructure projects that create jobs across our economy.

In this realm of large-scale infrastructure improvements for our creative sector, we will also deliver the Kingston Arts Precinct which has already commenced detailed design work and will host several of Canberra’s visual arts organisations.

In addition to these major projects and our rolling capital improvements program for our arts facilities, we will invest in local businesses, upgrading and restoring arts organisations in our town centres.

This term we completed Stage 2 of the Belconnen Arts Centre; a re-elected ACT Labor Government will invest $8 million to upgrade Gorman House in time for the centenary celebrations and $2 million for the theatre at Tuggeranong Arts Centre.

These investments will ensure that our arts organisations right across the city are well equipped to participate in our creative recovery.

We will also continue to invest heavily in our local artists, funding a creative recovery package, including stimulating new ways of engaging creatively with our public spaces. We will also move to establish a creative recovery and resilience sector forum, to provide ongoing opportunities to connect, share skills and knowledge of the sector. This will include the appointment of an ACT Government artist, whose role will be to work to embed artists in projects across government agencies, and we will take a new approach to residency programs while travel is restricted.

Finally, as we know, what encompasses the arts and creative industries is particularly broad in scope and can be difficult to define. To ensure our entire creative sector is well supported across the board, a re-elected ACT Labor Government will commit to a holistic creative industries policy drawing together the arts, culture, events, tourism, business and innovation.

These commitments will ensure our creative sector plays a significant role in our city’s recovery. Our creative sector – and our city – deserve no less.

With the right plan in place, I believe the ACT’s creative sector will create, save and expand jobs throughout our entire economy, for the benefit of our community.

ArtsHub has also published an opinion piece from the ACT Greens’ arts spokesperson, Jo Clay. The Liberal Party’s Vicki Dunn, Shadow Minister for the Arts, has been approached but had not taken up ArtsHub’s offer at the time of publication.

The ACT election takes place on Saturday 17 October.

Gordon Ramsay
About the Author
Gordon Ramsay is a Member of the Legislative Assembly of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), representing the Ginninderra electorate. He is Minister for the Arts, Creative Industries and Cultural Events.