Cultural policy needs updating, writes Marcus Westbury


Marcus Westbury – CPD fellow – argues in an edited extract from More Than Luck – Ideas Australia Needs Now, that the Australia Council is ‘increasingly irrelevant’.

First published in Marcus Westbury’s regular column in The Age.

Has the Australia Council had its day?

We should replace the Australia Council with a cultural policy and planning body.

NOT long ago, 15,000 people gathered in front of the Victorian Parliament to protest against an unpopular government decision. They chanted and marched, sported placards and listened to speeches. They weren’t protesting about refugees, climate change or Afghanistan – they were protesting about cultural policy.

It’s unlikely this federal election will be won or lost on cultural policy, but the protests inspired by the closure of the Tote and the bureaucratic ineptitude that led to it is a reminder that it has a constituency. The tale of the Tote is a perfect case study in why an attitude that sees culture almost exclusively in terms of arts funding rather than the much bigger area of cultural regulation is in dire need of overhaul.

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