Federal Election 2016

An overview of NAVA's work around the 2016 Federal Election. 

Make the arts count in the federal election. Here are some facts and figures and ways you can take action in the lead up to July 2.

Artist Alexander Poulet at the National Day of Action

Artist Alexander Poulet at the National Day of Action, Malcolm Turnbull's office. Photo Tanja Bruckner 2016.

Current state of arts funding

Australia's cultural sector contributes $50 billion towards the country’s GDP including over $4.2 billion from the arts*, employs more than 124,000 people (both FT & PT workers)** and attracts more than two million international tourists a year*.

In the 2014 and 2015 federal budgets there have been major cuts of $300m dollars to government investment in the cultural sector including to the Australia Council for the Arts, screen and gaming sectors and our major cultural institutions.

The 2015 Federal Budget significantly reduced government funding available to independent artists and in the latest May 2016 round of Australia Council funding decisions, 65 previously funded small to medium arts organisations missed out on receiving key operational four-year funding. In the visual arts, of the 41 visual arts organisations which were previously funded from 2012, 22 have been defunded (including NAVA).

Recent ABS data also shows a loss of 16,000 jobs in the arts and recreation sector in the last 12 months.***

The 2015 Senate Inquiry into arts funding noted the absence of a coherent and clear arts policy supported by evidence-based analysis by the current government and recommended restoration of funding to the Australia Council diverted from it in the 2014 and 2015 budgets and MYEFO.

*Australia Council Arts Nation 2015 report

**Cunningham and Higgs’ analysis of Aus­tralian Census data

***ABS 2014-2015 data, available here

A white woman standing in front of a turquoise background wearing a white shirt with the text in black 'Lets Change Arts Policy'. She has one hand on her hip and one hand above her head in a fist.

Photo: Tanja Bruckner

Major political parties arts' policies

Today the result of the federal election is still unknown.

In the lead up to the election, NAVA advised "If care about the arts make sure your vote counts in this election by scrutinising the arts commitments, or lack of them, by all political parties. Read up on these before you head to the polls".

The Australian Greens launched the first part of their arts policy on Monday 30th June. In the first part of the Greens’ arts policy announced during the election campaign, the Greens have propose plans to:

  • invest $270.2 million in additional funding over the next four years to help support and grow the arts in Australia
  • restore the full amount of funding cut from the Australia Council and re-establishing programs that have been previously cut including ArtStart
  • double the amount of Australia Council funding available to individual artists and small to medium organisations
  • $20 million over 4 years for organisations to help pay artists fees
  • allow artistic activities that provide community benefit to be eligible for Centrelink mutual obligation requirements at a cost of $51 million over four years
  • establish a National Arts Week by providing funding of $1 million over the next four years

Later announcements will expand on tax incentives and financial support for artists and creative organisations


Labor launched their Arts Plan on Saturday 4th June. Labor has promised to inject over $150 million in new investment in the arts to realise its plan for a more creative Australia. It recognises the importance of restoring the essential role of the arts and creative industries in Australia’s cultural and economic life, after the damaging disruption caused over the last two years by the Coalition Government’s cuts to the Australia Council, film and gaming industries and the major cultural institutions. Labor pledges to:

  • close the Catalyst fund and return all remaining money to the Australia Council and boost the Australia Council by providing $20 million a year in new funding over four years from 2017
  • ensure Australians in rural and regional communities have an opportunity to connect with the arts and share the stories of our country towns by boosting the Regional Arts Fund. They plan to increase the Regional Arts Fund by $8 million over four years
  • consider any proposals or recommendations to adjust the current territorial copyright regime with caution.


No policy has been released at this stage.


The Arts Party has released its policy and among initiatives has called for:

  • immediate full implementation of the Senate Inquiry recommendations
  • tripling of the actual budget distributed to artists and small/medium sized organisations across Australia
  • reversal of all funding cuts and a 5% funding increase to all our National Cultural Institutions
  • the Catalyst program to continue but be resourced with separate new funding, as well as being more transparency in funding decisions
  • immediate suspension of efficiency dividends
  • all distributed arts grants to no longer be liable for income tax
  • inclusion of the arts in the Government's innovation and STEM agendas
  • creation of a National Arts Week
  • ABS to be re-funded in order to resume collecting cultural participation data.

2016 Federal Election Report Card

Live Performance Australia has released its assessment of the major parties’ policy positions for the live performance industry in the lead-up to the federal election.

NAVA has outlined a number of key election arts policy recommendations for all political parties below.

1. Senate Inquiry

Recommendation 1

That all the recommendations from the Senate Inquiry into arts funding be implemented, especially:

- the need for all political parties to have well researched evidence based arts policies; and

- funding for the Australia Council to be restored at least to 2013 levels.

2. Artists Fees

Recommendation 2 (a)

That there be a binding standard agreement with the government through the Australia Council that fees be paid by all federal and state/territory government funded organisations to artists who have been commissioned or have loaned works for exhibition. These fees must be paid at least at the minimum recommended rates specified in the NAVA Code of Practice for the Professional Visual Arts, Craft and Design Sector.

Recommendation 2(b)

That there be an increase in government funding of $3m/year specifically allocated for an Artists Fees Fund to assist underfunded arts organisations to have the capacity to pay. This should be administered on a needs basis by the Australia Council.

3. Small to Medium Arts Organisations (S2Ms)

Recommendation 3

That there be an increase of government funding to the S2Ms of $12m/year administered through the Australia Council, of which $3m should be specified for S2M visual arts organisations.

4. Copyright

Recommendation 4 (a)

That the current ‘fair dealing’ regime be retained to ensure that IP creators' financial and moral rights are protected against abuse. This should not be replaced by the deeply flawed 'fair use’ system which has caused chaos and loss of rights for creators in other countries.

Recommendation 4 (b)

That the Artists Resale Royalty regime be continued without any diminution of its benefits paid to artists.

Recommendation 4 (c)

That copyright, design registration and patent legislation be changed to provide an accessible and affordable regime of protection for craftspeople and designers against unauthorised use or replication of their work and exploitation of their ideas.

5. Taxation

Recommendation 5 (a)

That any government grants, fellowships, scholarships or awards to artists be tax exempt

Recommendation 5 (b)

That a change be made to the Non-Commercial Losses New Business Tax System (Integrity Measures) Act 2000 to raise the threshold for artists' income from other non-arts activities to at least $120,000, as one of the tests in making a determination about whether the artist is eligible to make income tax claims.

Recommendation 5 (c)

That it be permissible for the exhibition or display of artworks invested in by Self Managed Super Funds on their own or related premises rather than requiring the works to be stored unseen.

Recommendation 5 (d)

That there be introduction of tax incentives for the purchase of work by living Australian artists.

6. Social Security/Superannuation

Recommendation 6 (a)

That being an artist is recognised as a profession by Centrelink, and professional artists be assisted under the social security regime to build their capacity to earn income within their profession.

Recommendation 6 (b)

That a Cultural Social Security Fund be established to provide financial assistance in the form of a pension supplement to self-employed artists when their income falls below the minimum wage; once they are recognised as ‘self-employed professional artists' when assessed against arts industry standards.

7. Arts Education

Recommendation 7 (a)

That all five art forms (dance, drama, media arts, music and visual arts & design) be included as mandatory in the national curriculum in schools for all children from pre-school up to year 6; and from year 7 to 10, it is mandatory for children be given the choice of learning at least 2 out of the five art forms each year, one of which should be visual arts and design. For this purpose secondary schools should be properly resourced with specialist arts teachers as required.

Recommendation 7 (b)

That an artist in schools program be established which provides each school with a continuing artists residency program.

8. Recognition and Respect

Recommendation 8 (a)

That there is an annual independently assessed Prime Ministerial Visual Artist Award of $100,000 and 5 other excellent artists are revered and rewarded annually as Living National Treasures.

Recommendation 8 (b)

That a three-year fellowship scheme is established for 20 selected mature art practitioners each year at the level of $80,000/year indexed annually.

Recommendation 8 (c)

That artists’ freedom of expression is protected through legislating a national Charter or Bill of Rights.

9. Emerging Artists

Recommendation 9

That the Australia Council’s ArtStart program be restored with direct funding from government of $5 million/year.

10. Arts Touring

Recommendation 10

That the funding for NETS Australia be restored and increased by $2 million/year

Take action - contact your local federal candidates

To make arts and culture an important issue for candidates they must hear voices within and beyond the arts sector raising their concerns for the current state of the Australian arts. The voters are your audiences, stakeholders, families and friends.

Actions you can take include:

  • Contacting your local candidates and list your concerns as a member of the industry about the current state of arts funding. You may wish to use our policy recommendations as a guide (see above).
  • Engage with your audiences, supporters, stakeholders, friends and family, talk to them about the issues and get them to contact their Federal candidates to demonstrate the broader impact that the current state of arts funding has on your local community.

Do you live in a marginal seat?

The above is particularly important if you live in a marginal seat as votes are more crucial in these seats and voters have a greater chance of affecting election outcomes. The AEC defines a "marginal" seat as one where "the leading party receives less than 56 per cent of the TPP vote. A swing of less than six percent is required for the seat to change hands.

NSW - 47 seats, 18 marginal
Banks, Barton, Dobell, Eden-Monaro, Gilmore, Greenway, Hunter/Charlton, Kingsford-Smith, Lindsay, Macarthur, Macquarie, McMahon, Page, Parramatta, Paterson, Reid, Richmond, Robertson

VIC - 37 seats, 14 marginal
Ballarat, Bendigo, Bruce, Chisholm, Corangamite, Deakin, Dunkley, Indi, Isaacs, Jagajaga, La Trobe, Melbourne, McEwen, Melbourne Ports

QLD - 30 seats, 14 marginal
Blair, Bonner, Brisbane, Capricornia, Fairfax, Forde, Griffith, Kennedy, Leichhardt, Lilley, Moreton, Oxley, Petrie, Rankin

WA - 16 seats, 6 marginal
Brand, Cowan, Durack, Fremantle, O'Connor, Perth

SA - 11 seats, 4 marginal
Adelaide, Hindmarsh, Makin, Wakefield

TAS - 5 seats, 4 marginal
Bass, Braddon, Franklin, Lyons

NT - 2 seats, 2 marginal
Lingiari, Solomon

Search for your local candidates:

Preferential voting explained

A black and white comic explaining how to not waste your vote.

You can't waste your vote, Patrick Alexander

Tuesday 2 August


Tamara Winikoff will join a panel of speakers including Michael Lynch, Nick Atkins and Lily Shearer to discuss the 'State of the Arts' as part of the Sydney Opera House's Culture Club.

Saturday 2 July 2016

You have checked each party's arts policies and voted. Now we wait for the results.

Friday 1 July 2016

NAVA delivered the 'Art Changes Lives' petition to the PM Malcolm Turnbull, Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten, Arts Minister Senator Mitch Fifield, Shadow Arts Minister Mark Dreyfus, Leader of the Australian Greens Senator Richard di Natale and Greens arts spokesperson Adam Bandt, Senator Nick Xenophon and leader of the Arts Party, PJ Collins. Over 18,000 people signed the petition to show their support for Australian arts here. This was in addition to the 10,000 theatre audience members who sent postcards to their local member with the same message.

Tuesday 28 June 2016 Arts and Cultural Policy Forum


On Tuesday 28 June, Senator Nick McKim (Australian Greens), Senator Catryna Bilyk (Australian Labor Party), Mr Andrew Wilkie MP (Independent Member for Denison), and a Liberal Party candidate, informed the community about their visions and policies for the arts, culture and creative industries in Tasmania, ahead of the Federal election.

Monday 27 June 2016 Let's Talk Futures


This NAVA/Artspace event took further the issues raised at the first ‘Let's Talk’ town hall-style public discussion which again was held in the seminar space on the 2nd floor of the Gunnery building in Sydney. Speakers included Dr Paula Abood, Vernon Ah Kee, Abdul Abdullah, Barry Keldoulis, Bec Dean, Alexie Glass-Kantor and Tamara Winikoff. Further 'Let's Talk' events will be announced shortly.

Wednesday 8 June 2016, 1pm-3pm National Arts Debate at the Wheeler Arts Centre


ArtsPeak organised a National Arts Election Debate to bring the arts leaders of each of the major parties together to share their big ideas and respond to the burning questions of industry leaders and commentators from across the industry. Patricia Karvelas (ABC and Sky News) moderated the three cornered contest. Arts Minister Senator Mitch Fifield, and Shadow Arts Minister Mark Dreyfus and Greens Arts Spokesperson, Adam Bandt presented their parties' plans.

Monday 30 May 2016 Let's Talk


NAVA and Artspace hosted a ‘town hall’ public discussion exploring the current arts funding landscape. Speakers were: arts advocate Michael Lynch, artist Janet Laurence, Esther Anatolitis, Regional Arts Victoria, Ross Harley, head of UNSW Art & Design, Evan Hughes, Labor candidate for Wentworth, NSW, Alexie Glass-Kantor, Artspace, Tamara Winikoff OAM, NAVA, and Katrina Douglas, PACT. Seminar Room, 2nd floor, The Gunnery.

Contact us

Are you organising actions or events we should know about? Email ywu@visualarts.net.au and we’ll add it to this page and let our networks know.

In the media

NAVA's media releases

Election Message - Art Changes Lives, 30 June

Open letter to Turnbull in response to his statements this week on Q&A, 24 June 2016

NAVA warmly welcomes Labor’s new Arts Plan, 6 June 2016

NAVA warmly welcomes the Greens' arts policy, 30 May 2016

Week of 4 July

Ben Neutze, How did Australia's first ever Arts Party perform at its first Federal Election?, Daily Review, 4 July 2016

Week of 27 June

Recent funding cuts to the arts cause deep wounds, Art Almanac, 30 June 2016

Australian Arts Community Protests $224 Million Cut to Federal Arts Budget, ArtForum, 29 June 2016

Claire Voon, Australian Arts Community Campaigns Against Federal Budget Cuts, Hyperallergic, 28 June 2016

Editorial: A vote for Coalition is a vote against the arts, Daily Review, 29 June 2016

Matthew Westwood, Political parties united in their funding support for the arts, The Australian, 28 June 2016

Tony Moore, Turnbull's 'innovation boom' is not possible without the Arts says Senate Candidate, My Sunshine Coast, 26 June 2016

Live Performance Australia Slams Turnbull over Q&A Answers, Daily Review, 23 June 2016

Week of 20 June

Matthew Westwood, Live Performance Australia disputes Turnbull funding claim on Q&A, The Australian, 23 June

Christopher Harris, Curtain call for City arts incubators, City News, 23 June 2016

Suzy Keen, SA arts advocates ramp up political campaign, InDaily, 22 June 2016

Christian Morrow, EDITORIAL: Stand with the arts in our community, Byron Shire News, 22 Jun 2016

Spencer Howson, The arts in the federal election spotlight thanks to Katie Noonan, ABC, 21 June 2016

Week of 13 June

Desirée Savage, Merrigong Theatre joins #istandwiththearts campaign, Illawarra Mercury, 18 June 2016

National Arts Day of Action: latest happenings, ArtsHub, 17 June

Art Changes Lives. Here's why we need to fund the arts, FBI radio, 17 June

Michaela Boland, Federal election 2016: actors to mobilise against cuts, The Australian, 17 June 2016

Dee Jefferson, Actors stand up for the arts, TimeOut Sydney, 17 June 2016

Heather McNab, Hugo Weaving, Robyn Nevin and Kate Mulvany don’t want a standing ovation — they want to take a stand against cuts, CENtRAL, 16 June 2016

Matthew Westwood, Arts groups, artists rally against funding cuts, The Australian, 16 June 2016

Stephen Bevis, Artists crash the election party, The West Australian, 16 June 2016

Debbie Cuthbertson and Andrew Taylor, Election 2016: National day of action kicks off campaign against 'ritual sacrifice of the arts, Sydney Morning Herald, 16 June

Debbie Cuthbertson, Federal Election 2016: Nationals vow $10m for new Shepparton Art Museum amid battle with Liberals, The Age, 16 June 2016

Andrew Taylor, Election 2016: Arts sector launches National Day of Arts Action campaign, Sydney Morning Herald, 15 June

Steph Harmon, National day of action: art and theatre join forces to make culture an election issue, The Guardian, 15 June

Dee Jefferson, Love the arts? Prove it this Friday, TimeOut Sydney, 15 June

Richard Watts, National day of action to be held this Friday, ArtsHub, 15 June

Art Almanac, National Day of Action – Support the Arts, 15 June

Week of 6 June

Deborah Stone, No clear winner but a clear loser, ArtsHub, 9 June 2016

Matthew Westwood, Fifield, Dreyfus and Bandt discuss party policy on arts, The Australian, 9 June 2016

Sasha Grishin, Labor steals a march on the arts, The Age, 9 June 2016

Debbie Cuthbertson, Arts for the dole? Greens propose living wage for creatives as part of election policy, SMH, 8 June 2016

Sally Bennett, Upheaval puts arts on election agenda, Herald Sun, 8 June 2016

Debbie Cuthbertson, No more starving artists? Greens propose living wage for creatives as part of arts election policy, The Age, 8 June 2016

Ben Eltham, Totally coincidentally, noisy critics of arts cuts miss out on funding, Daily Review, 8 June 2016

Greens propose a create for the dole scheme, Daily Review, 8 June 2016

Matthew Westwood, Libs need to lift the curtain, The Australian, 7 June 2016

Mark Dreyfus, Shadow Minister for the Arts on RN Books and Arts, 7 June 2016

David Pledger, What you need to know ahead of the National Arts Debate, ArtsHub, 7 June 2016

Senator Mitch Fifield, Minister for the Arts with Patricia Karvelas on RN Drive, 6 June 2016

Week of 30 May

Andrew Taylor, Election 2016: Labor pledges $60 million to ABC, but won't rule out changes to copyright, SMH, 4 June 2016

Gabrielle Chan, Arts funding: Labor vows to scrap 'ministerial slush fund’, The Guardian, 4 June 2016

Sarah Martin, Federal election 2016: Bill Shorten pledges $160m arts boost, The Australian, 4 June 2016

Richard Watts, Labor boosts funding in new arts policy, Arts Hub, 4 June 2016

John Kelly, Do artists deserve their own tax regime, Daily Review, 1 June 2016

Gina Fairley, How to lobby for the arts in Election 2016, Arts Hub, 1 June 2016

Sinead Stubbins, The Greens Have Pledged An Extra $270 Million To The Arts To Counter The Government Cuts, Junkee, 30 May 2016

Sid Maher, Federal election 2016: vow to reverse arts council cuts, The Australia, 30 May 2016

Week of 23 May

Suzie Keen, Arts campaigners target Hindmarsh, InDaily, 27 May 2016

Week of 16 May

Alison Croggon, The 70% drop in Australia Council grants for individual artists is staggering, The Guardian, 19 May 2016

For the most up to date media you can also follow us on Facebook here.

We need your support to be able to continue this great work we do. NAVA has been defunded and we no longer have Australia Council four-year funding for our operations from 2017. If you can make a donation, your gift will ensure our ability to help you and others in the sector.

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