Art and culture is a unique element that is present in every society and nation. It expresses the ideas, feelings and values of a society. It can justifiably be said that the richness of a society is determined by its art and culture. According to Theodor Adorno, culture is described as “that which goes beyond the system of self-preservation of the species,” which seems to contradict its essentiality to society. Even with rapid changes in the world through wars and civilization, arts and culture has remained a substantial facet of society throughout time. Despite its apparent appreciation in most societies, survival of the arts has without a doubt been challenging.
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With new developments, there is a greater need for funding for the arts from the government.
The three main types of system of funding are funding by the 1) Federal government, 2) State government, and 3) Local government. As of the 2003-2004 financial annual report, funding is broken up into arts and heritage, where heritage is seen as separate from arts and as a part of cultural spending. According to the Australia Bureau of Statistics, the Australian government spent a total of $6650.2 million in the financial year of 2010-2011, with $2271.6 million spent by the federal government, $3118.8 million spent by the state and territory government and the remaining $3118.8 million by the local government. Each of these funding systems have different emphasizes when it comes to funding. 74% ($1678.7 million) of the Australian Government funded arts activities with a large amount given to Radio and Television services. With this, the expenditure for cultural activities fell by $82.8 million between 2009-2010 and 2010-2011. On the contrary, expenditure funded by state and territory governments was more focused on cultural activities which saw an increase of $42.1 million from 2009-2010 to 2010-2011.
Another form of arts assistance comes from commercial sale by the public. It could be from the sale of art works at art galleries, sale of concert tickets, sale of products at museums, fund-raising and private sponsorship by commercial companies looking to get branding and recognition. Public funding by art enthusiast such as contributions by citizens and companies also is an important source of funding. However, government investment serves the public interest and ensures that all areas of a state receive the benefits of the arts.
The style of the decision making for funding by government is based on the arm’s length principle. The arm’s-length principle is fundamental to the funding of the arts by political bodies. It ensures that the elected organization who decides the distribution of the funding remains independent of the local or central government. This also ensures that any artistic activity do not have a hidden agenda to party politics. However, even with the application of this principle, there are inequalities of opportunities throughout the region, as seen the difference in focus of funding. This creates an enormous pressure to the local government and thus the Australian Council was set up. The Australian Council is the Federal Government’s arts funding and advisory board. With the Australian Council, it is increasingly difficult for federal politicians to directly intervene in grant making decisions.
The individuals making up the board are members of the governing council, which also includes members of a broader community, to a maximum of 14 members. The Chair of the Council is appointed by Governor-General while the other members by the Minister of Arts. The board of members includes practicing artists and individuals who work...