NAVA 2023-24 Federal Budget response

NAVA welcomes the Budget allocations for the arts including $286m to support the delivery of Revive and the $535.3m funding boost to National Collecting Institutions.

On Tuesday night, Treasurer Jim Chalmers presented the 2023-2024 federal budget, announcing the Government’s plans to create new opportunities across strategic industries, with $286 million of investment over five years in the creative sector.

As anticipated, there were few surprises in the budget hand down. Funding allocated to the arts was previously announced in January 2023 to deliver on the Government’s new National Cultural Policy Revive.

NAVA welcomes the National Cultural Policy budget commitments for the arts, including $199 million over four years to establish Creative Australia and $13.4 million to introduce stand-alone legislation to protect First Nations knowledge and cultural expressions.

NAVA also welcomes the announcement made in April 2023 of a major funding boost of $535.3 million over four years towards the nine National Collecting Institutions, including National Gallery of Australia, National Portrait Gallery, Bundanon Trust, and National Archives.

Funding committed to the visual arts as part of the 2023-24 Budget:

  • $199 million over four years from 2023–24 (and $72.3 million per year ongoing) for Creative Australia to support delivery of Revive and to establish four new bodies to provide greater strategic oversight and engagement across the sector including a First Nations-led body, Music Australia, Writers Australia and a Creative Workplaces centre.
  • $535.3 million over four years from 2023-24 (and $118.3 million per year ongoing) towards the nine National Collecting Institutions, including National Gallery of Australia and National Portrait Gallery.
  • $80 million to establish a National Aboriginal Art Gallery in Alice Springs.
  • $50 million towards the establishment of an Aboriginal Cultural Centre in Perth, in partnership with the Western Australian Government.
  • $13.4 million to introduce stand-alone legislation to protect First Nations knowledge and cultural expressions, including to address the harm caused by fake art, merchandise and souvenirs.
  • $11.8 million to share the national collection by establishing a program of long-term loans of works from the National Gallery of Australia’s collection to regional and suburban cultural institutions across Australia.
  • $8.5 million over 4 years from 2023–24 (and $2.2 million per year ongoing) to increase funding for the Regional Arts Fund to support cultural development in regional and remote communities.
  • $5 million in 2023–24 to develop and implement an Arts and Disability Associated Plan under Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021–2031.
  • $3.8 million over two years from 2023–24 for the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies to digitise and store at-risk audio-visual material.
  • $2.6 million over 4 years from 2023–24 to support specialist arts education programs in schools.
  • $1.8 million in 2023–24 for the Copyright Agency to enhance the Resale Royalty Scheme.

Beyond that, NAVA welcomes the budget commitments that will likely benefit artists and organisations indirectly including:

  • $9 billion over four years for a cheaper childcare package that will lift the Childcare Subsidy rate for families earning less than $530,000.
  • $4.9 billion over five years to boost income support payments, including a $40 per fortnight increase for JobSeeker recipients.
  • $3.5 billion over five years to boost Medicare bulk-billing and other measures to improve access to primary health care.
  • $2.7 billion over five years in rent assistance to low-income households.
  • $2 billion for more social and affordable housing via the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation.
  • $589.3 million for women's safety measures.
  • $72.4 million over five years to support training for early childhood educators.
  • $35 million over four years to attract more people to the teaching profession and retain more teachers, including a pilot to test new ways to reduce teachers’ workloads.
  • $27.4 million over four years to improve the safety and fairness of workplaces.
  • A new requirement for employers to pay superannuation contributions on the same day as salary and wages are paid by 2026. 

While NAVA supports the Budget’s strong emphasis on the cost-of-living, we remain concerned that the increase in welfare spending will have a very modest impact on the living conditions of the thousands of artists and arts workers living in poverty. The $40 per fortnight increase in JobSeeker payments – representing less than 2% increase in the welfare budget each year – falls well short of the calls by the Government’s Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee for an increase of around $256 per fortnight to bring the payment in line with 90% of the age pension.

There is also no new initiative of scale to respond to Australia’s escalating housing emergency, which is pushing low-income artists into homelessness. While the Government’s efforts will see some more social housing eventually, there is no immediate relief for people without safe and affordable housing.

Further, HECS loans will increase by a record high of 7.1% when next indexed on 1 June, despite the widespread call for action on student poverty and the student debt crisis. This will increase overall student debt from $74 billion to just under $80 billion. NAVA supports the bill introduced by Greens Senator Faruqi to abolish indexation on student loans and raise the minimum payment income to alleviate cost-of-living pressures on students and graduates.

The 2023-24 Budget contains a number of positive measures to support the visual arts, most of which were previously announced in the National Cultural Policy. NAVA looks forward to continuing work with the Government in the implementation of the National Cultural Policy initiatives, ensuring the initiatives provide direct targeted support for independent artists and small-to-medium organisations in the visual arts, craft and design sector. 

Screenshot of Treasurer Jim Chalmers 2023-24 Budget Speech at Australian Parliament House, Canberra. Screenshot from ABC News, 9 May 2023.

ID: Photo of Treasurer Jim Chalmers delivering the Budget at Australian Parliament House. Several other Labor Party MPs are seated behind him in rows.