17 October 2023

I recently headed to the Mornington Peninsula to host a round table on regional arts with the member for Flinders and once again saw the importance of the arts in areas outside of cities and the commitment of people working in that sector, often as volunteers, to provide opportunities for participation in the arts. We were generously hosted by Julie Collins at & Gallery in Sorrento, and I thank everyone who joined us. I walked away with many ideas, including being reminded why we have commercial galleries talked about in our national cultural policy, Revive. They are a key component that supports the arts, especially in regional areas. To tell the Australian story, regional voices must be heard. The Albanese government believes creativity has a place in every community and that every Australian has a right to creative expression and to participate in the arts, no matter their postcode. The arts brings people together and improves community wellbeing. It invigorates regional economies, supports local jobs, encourages cultural tourism and improves the quality of life in regional areas.

One of the organisations that have long known and championed this is Regional Arts Australia. I had the
privilege of speaking at their 80th anniversary celebration recently. Regional Arts Australia contracts regional
arts organisations in each state and territory to deliver our Regional Arts Fund, awarding grants to artists, arts workers and organisations. We heard from Marta Dusseldorp, now settled in regional Tasmania, who spoke powerfully about the need to support regional communities to tell their stories and what we all stand to gain when we hear those stories. Of course, Bay of Fires on ABC iview is a great example of those stories. I'm looking forward to engaging in regional arts this coming weekend in Queenstown, Tasmania, attending the Unconformity festival with Tassie arts champion Senator Anne Urquhart. My own electorate of Macquarie plays host to the Blue Mountains Writers' Festival this weekend, and I'm proud to be a sponsor of that important cultural event. It's always engaging and often thought provoking, and I know it will attract visitors and locals alike.

What I see in common with all regional and remote areas is a desire that they be supported to tell their own
stories on their terms and share them with the rest of the country. Given the central ambition of our new national cultural policy, Revive, is that there is a place for every story and a story for every place, here are some of the practical ways that we're realising that ambition. We're investing an additional $8.5 million over four years in the Regional Arts Fund, bringing the annual spend from $3.7 million to $5.8 million a year so more great regional artists and organisations can be supported to create and share their work. Creative Australia continues to be an important source of support for regional creativity, but under the coalition it was starved of the funding it needed to do its job when arts minister George Brandis raided the Australia Council budget in 2015. It was individual artists and small to medium arts organisations that were hit hardest, and it meant regional arts was badly hurt. Our $199 million in additional funding to Creative Australia over four years will expand the support it provides to the sector and allow more individual artists and more small to medium organisations to be supported right across the country.

We're also supporting the development of cultural infrastructure in regional areas, such as the $13 million to
develop the Burnie cultural precinct in Tassie, plus new support for Bundanon in the beautiful Shoalhaven region. I know the member for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips, has been a committed advocate for Bundanon, and I know she shares my delight that it will receive an additional $10 million a year to support its artists-in-residence and its gallery operations. We're also investing $12 million in the new Sharing the National Collection initiative, which will do long-term loans from the National Gallery of Australia to suburban and regional galleries throughout the country. Loans already announced include works by Monet and Margaret Olley to Tweed Regional Gallery in Murwillumbah, which I know the member for Richmond will be excited about; works by Imants Tillers and David Hockney to the Home of the Arts on the Gold Coast; and a work by Ron Mueck to Maitland Regional Art Gallery, which the member for Paterson tells me she's keen to see. There's much more to be done, and we're committed to backing regional artists because we recognise their contribution to vibrant, strong and prosperous regions.

Watch Susan Deliver this Speech in Parliament Here