On 13 March 2013, the Federal Minister for the Arts, Simon Crean, unveiled a new national cultural policy - entitled "Creative Australia". Creative Australia is a ten year plan, setting out national objectives in relation to culture and the arts, and the steps that will be taken to achieve those objectives

The report recognises the economic and cultural importance – both at the national and grass-roots levels – of the arts and related sectors such as the games industry and the collecting institutions such as museums and galleries

Apart from "new" money being allocated to various arts programs (including to provide support to creative people at all stages of their careers), a number of features of the policy will be of special interest to film makers, publishers and cultural institutions

For example:

  • ongoing financial support to the film industry (including recent increases to tax offsets) is noted, and further financial support measures are announced (including the creation of an online production fund and a "converged content" production fund to support screen production and distribution);
  • continued support is to be given to the "Educational Lending Right" and "Public Lending Right" schemes (these are not really a "right", as such, but a payment made by the Federal government to Australian publishers and writers in recognition of the value of published material being made available for lending though libraries);
  • "legal deposit" obligations are to be extended both to digital material and to audio-visual material; and
  • changes are being made to the Cultural Gifts Program and the Register of Cultural Organisations to make it easier to donate to cultural organisations.

"Creative Australia" also provides the government's response to a number of recent reports, and notes ongoing reviews and surveys that will have an impact on the shape of "Creative Australia" and arts policies over the next decade. These reports, reviews and surveys include:

  • the review of the Australia Council (which is the federal government's arts funding body) to modernise its governance structure and to ensure that, in the 21st century, it is able to support and promote vibrant and distinctively Australian arts practice that is both nationally and internationally excellent;
  • the 2010 Review of the Australian Independent Screen Production Sector;
  • the 2011 Mitchell Review of Private Sector Support of the Arts (with the recent announcement of the merger of the Australia Business Arts Foundation and Artsupport Australia to form Creative Partnerships Australia);
  • the Convergence Review (which looked at the impacts of converging digital technologies, and what responses government should make "to ensure that Australian stories continue to be told, produced, and reach local audiences");
  • the survey being undertaken by Screen Australia and the Australian Bureau of Statistics of the screen industry (including games companies); and
  • the inquiry into statutory licences and exceptions under the Copyright Act currently being undertaken by the Australian Law Reform Commission (due to report in November 2013).

The policy is available for download at: http://creativeaustralia.arts.gov.au/assets/Creative-Australia-PDF.pdf For further information about the policy, and for advice on how it might affect you, contact copyright lawyer Adam Simpson, film and music lawyer Jules Munro or Ian McDonald (Special Counsel, Copyright) at Simpsons Solicitors. (Adam Simpson participated in the creative stream of the "Australia 2020 Summit" in 2008, and has been a member of various government advisory panels which assisted in the establishment of the policy.)