Dilemmas in policy support for the arts and cultural sector

Craik, Jennifer (2005) Dilemmas in policy support for the arts and cultural sector. Australian Journal of Public Administration, 64(4), pp. 6-19.

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This article questions the specific challenges that the management of culture poses for government.2 Unlike some ‘public good’ policy domains, such as prisons, defence or infrastructure, or benefit provisions such as unemployment, disability or health measures, the complex area of cultural policy cannot be justified in instrumental terms as an essential – or unavoidable – policy of government. Nonetheless, the cultural lobby is an effective and indefatigable pressure on government. The area of culture is just one small component of the public agenda that governments are obliged to support. Given other pressing portfolios, why do governments continue to take an interest in culture? Moreover, recent government policies seem to be setting up problems for the future such that governments will find it hard if not impossible to extricate themselves from a problematic relationship. So, what is the hold that culture has over governments?

Traditionally, the answer seemed to be a combination of boosterism and cultural capital. Governments liked to bask in the reflected glory of cultural success believing that it contributed to their legitimacy and cultural competence. The glow of elite culture was seen to rub off onto political incumbents and their regimes. But in an age of pressures on government to justify public expenditure and meet accountability regimes, cultural support continues to appear on the funding agenda and governments continue to become embroiled in debates about competing support formulae. This relates to both the nature of ‘culture’ and broader definitions under the banner of ‘cultural policy’ as well as the nature of the sector which is, at once, elitist, institutionalized, commercial, highly specialist, niche and industry – all premised on intangible nature of ‘creativity’.

Paradoxically, contrary to other trends in public policy, arts and cultural funding has reverted to forms of patronage as the centrepiece of broadly defined policies of access, equity and self-sufficiency. How has this policy portfolio managed to buck the trends of other domains of government attention? This article attempts to open some new ways of examining the question.3

Impact and interest:

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8 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 98309
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8500.2005.00460a.x
ISSN: 1467-8500
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > OTHER STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190999) > Studies in the Creative Arts and Writing not elsewhere classified (199999)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Design
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2005 National Council of the Institute of Public Administration, Australia. Published by Blackwell Publishing Limited
Deposited On: 25 Aug 2016 02:14
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2016 02:14

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