Cultural policies in Australia

Cultural policies in Australia offers an invaluable profile of arts and cultural polices across all spheres of government.

Cover of Seares 2011 Cultural policies in Australia by Prof Margaret Seares AOIt charts the development of federal and state cultural agencies, policy relating to all artforms, public and commercial media, Indigenous affairs, heritage, education, training and economic policy.

The cultural policy profile documents Government involvement in the cultural landscape of Australia going back to the early days of federation when in 1908 the Commonwealth Literary Fund was established, initially in order to provide pensions for needy writers or their families.

The next focus was the visual arts when, in the first decade of federation, there was a strong push from leading Australian artists for the Commonwealth to establish a national art collection. In 1912 the Historic Memorials Committee was established, as well as the Commonwealth Art Advisory Board.

From these beginnings Cultural policies in Australia documents the evolutions that lead to many of Australia’s cultural institutions, including the passing in 1960 of the National Library Act 1960 by the Federal Parliament, with the library being fully established by 1968; and the decades of discussion which lead to the ultimate opening of the Australian National Gallery (now National Gallery of Australia) in 1982.

The establishment of the Australia Council is tracked from its genesis in a number of art boards and committees that operated independently, through to the passing of the Australia Council Act 1975 and beyond.

The growth of the ABC is also documented, from its initial presence in 1928/9 when the Government awarded a collection of licences to the Australia Broadcasting Company, which ultimately became the Australian Broadcasting Commission; through to its 2010 launch of a range of new digital radio and television stations.

Cultural policies in Australia includes overviews of major inquiries such as Parallel Importation of Books, the Major Performing Arts Inquiry and the Contemporary Visual Arts and Craft Inquiry. It also discusses major policy initiatives such as Creative Nation.

As well as being an important stand- alone document, the Australian cultural policy profile will also become part of WorldCP, a central, web-based database of country-specific profiles of cultural policies, modeled on the highly regarded Compendium of Cultural Policies and Trends in Europe ( which contains policy profiles of 41 European countries and Canada.



Cultural policies in Australia can be viewed in an emdedded frame below, on the Australia Council's Scribd account or downloaded as a PDF (912 KB).


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