Access to, and participation in cultural events is a social justice issue, for creative industry workers, and for the public. Australians living outside of capital cities, with lower levels of education, and lower household incomes attend cultural activities at a lower rate than their counterparts. Socioeconomic factors inhibit access to the arts, and thus, to the coinciding benefits the arts can provide to health, social cohesion, and community building. This is recognised in one of the Policy’s ten guiding principles: that ‘[a]ll Australians, regardless of language, literacy, geography, age, or education, have the opportunity to access and participate in arts and culture’.
Per Capita has considered the Policy and is broadly supportive of its aims. The Policy clearly acknowledges the importance of the arts in Australia, and the essential role it plays in our sense of belonging and identity. The Policy seeks to restore funding to industries, horribly neglected by former governments, and pave the way for a much-needed restoration of our creative ecosystem.
However, Per Capita submits that within the actions enumerated in the Policy, a stronger focus on audience access to live performance should be considered, to promote further access for all Australian to participate in arts and culture, regardless of socioeconomic status.
This submission will focus primarily on live theatre in Australia’s desperately under-subsidised, publicly subsidised theatres, with emphasis on the fifth of the Policy’s interconnected pillars: Engaging the Audience – making sure our stories connect with people at home and abroad.