SYDNEY, Australia — A new chapter unfolds for Australia’s music community with the activation of Creative Australia, the centerpiece of the federal government’s National Cultural Policy, Revive, which its architects hope will turn Australia into a music powerhouse.
On Thursday (Aug. 24), as the Creative Australia Act 2023 came into effect, federal minister for the arts Tony Burke officially unveiled Creative Australia and its new board, led by chairman Robert Morgan and deputy chair Wesley Enoch.
Creative Australia is an expanded and modernized Australia Council for the Arts which, Burke says, “will bring the drive, direction and vision that Australian artists have been calling out for.”
The government agency’s CEO Adrian Collette will chair the newly-appointed Music Australia council, an eight-strong board of artists and music industry experts, which includes legendary concerts promoter Michael Chugg and was unveiled earlier in the week.
“Pleasingly,” comments Evelyn Richardson, CEO of Live Performance Australia, “Creative Australia comes to life with the restoration of funding that was lost under the previous government’s budget cuts in 2014, as well as new initiatives such as Music Australia and Creative Workplaces.”
To fully “realize its ambition and promise,” she continues, “it will be important that current and future governments are committed to greater investment in our cultural and creative industries through Creative Australia.”
The music industry has long advocated for a new body to help Australia’s commercial music sector reach new heights at home and abroad.
When Anthony Albanese’s center-left Labor government was formed in 2022, ending the nine-year administration of the center-right Liberal Party, hope turned to action.
In the months that followed the federal election, Burke welcomed key representative bodies of the Australian contemporary music industry leaders to consult on the policy, from which Revive was shaped.
In January, prime minister Albanese presented Revive to the industry and the public, and with it, the promise of a new Music Australia, a reimagined national music development agency that would support and invest in the development of Australian contemporary music.
The policy is an ambitious year-long action plan, structured around five interconnected pillars and underpinned by a commitment for new, additional investment totaling A$286 million (US$202 million) — record levels of arts funding. Music Australia alone is funded to the tune of A$69 million ($44 million) over four years.
The establishment of Music Australia is a “landmark moment for Australia’s music industry,” says Dean Ormston, CEO of APRA AMCOS. “It represents for the first time in the nation’s history that we have had a long-term commitment from government to work in partnership with industry to make Australia a music powerhouse,” he adds.
“We look forward to working with Music Australia chair and Creative Australia CEO Adrian Collette and the rest of the council to fully realize the cultural, economic and social benefits of a vibrant, healthy and sustainable music industry accessible to all Australians, and the world.”
The Creative Australia Bill, which lays the legal framework for the existence of Music Australia, passed parliament and was enshrined into law in June. Today’s development was a formality, but an important one.
“Now it all comes down to execution,” comments ARIA and PPCA CEO Annabelle Herd. “Now is the time to think big, consult wide, and deliver the solutions that Australian recording artists and industry professionals deserve; restoring the infrastructure to help them achieve sustainable careers at home and providing a greater platform for them to reach new audiences by cutting through an increasingly saturated market.”
Australia’s contemporary music industry, she continues, “is an incredible incubator for world-class talent. But for the world to discover that talent, we need the right strategic support and investment. There’s no time to waste.”
Work is “already underway” to establish Music Australia and Creative Workplaces within Creative Australia, reads a statement from the Creative Australia office.
In 2024, the inaugural First Nations-led board will be established, building on the Australia Council’s 50-year history of investment in First Nations Arts and Culture. And in 2025, Writers Australia will be established.
Read the full National Cultural Policy here.
Music Australia Council:
Fred Alale, co-founder and chair of African Music and Cultural Festivals Inc.
Lisa Baker, manager of creative cultural development, City of Playford
Danielle Caruana (Mama Kin), artist and founder/director of The Seed Fund
Michael Chugg, founder of Chugg Entertainment
Petrina Convey, owner and director of UNITY. Mgmt
Fred Leone, artist
Nathan McLay, CEO of Future Classic
Dr Sophie Payten (Gordi), artist
Australia Council Board of Creative Australia:
Adrian Collette AM
Robert Morgan (Chair)
Wesley Enoch AM (Deputy Chair)
Christine Simpson Stokes AM