2023 Pre-budget Submission: Equitable Funding

January 2023 Pre-budget Submission: Equitable Funding for the Arts and Creative Sectors

Download the full submission from Diversity Arts

Download now


The Hon Stephen Jones MP
Assistant Treasurer
Australian Government – The Treasury
PO Box 6021
Parliament House

27 January 2023

Dear Minister,


Please accept this Pre-Budget Submission for the 2023-2024 Federal Budget from Diversity Arts Australia. It provides guidance on ensuring that the arts, screen and creative sectors are representative of the whole Australian community, and that underrepresented people can access employment in our industries.

This submission is informed by our work with thousands of culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD), migrant and refugee artists and creative workers via our programs, talks, research and events. It is guided by our work with a range of national peak and grass-roots arts, screen and creative sector organisations. Our recommendations are also informed by our joint advocacy with the Consortium of National Peak Arts Organisations whose submissions we broadly support.¹ It is critical that we work together to create a robust, relevant and inclusive creative sector.

About Diversity Arts Australia

Diversity Arts Australia is the peak national organisation promoting racial equity across the arts, cultural and screen sectors. Diversity Arts works to build a creative sector that reflects Australia’s true cultural diversity and believes creative expression is a fundamental human right, which strengthens and connects communities.

We are committed to working for ethno-cultural and migrant cultural equity and our work is underpinned by principles of human rights and the belief that a truly diverse creative sector is fundamental to a democratic, inclusive, sustainable society.

Diversity Arts combines service provision — resources, events, research, training — with creative production. We act as a broker between artists, industry, educators and government, and commission content from artists that articulates key issues and showcases best practice.
While our focus is on cultural and linguistic diversity (CaLD),² we work intersectionally and in partnership with other communities to deliver programs.

The following recommendations draw on our extensive consultations with culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) artists and creative workers, arts and screen organisations, and people working in advancing diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-racism in the sector. This
submission is also informed by years of research and advocacy.

Underrepresentation in the arts, cultural and screen sectors

  • The Federal Government should have an expectation that the work of the organisations they fund, particularly those who receive the majority of funding and support, reflect the diversity of contemporary Australia.
  • We know that Australia is a culturally diverse nation. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Reserve Bank data, 39% of Australians are from a CaLD background, with over 28% of Australians born overseas.³
  • CaLD Australians are more likely to attend live performances, and creatively participate in the arts, than the national average.*
  • However, this is not reflected on our screens, main stages or at the Board and executive levels of the country’s leading companies, universities and government departments. As of 2018, CaLD Australians were under-represented across every leadership role in every cultural sector, organisational type and jurisdiction.*
  • People from a non-English speaking background account for only 10 percent of the arts workforce, compared to 18 percent of the general workforce.* This suggests there are not enough employment and professional pathways for CaLD artists and creative
  • In 2016 Screen Australia found that only 18% of main characters on Australian TV were from non-Anglo Celtic backgrounds.*
  • In 2017, performer and writer Kim Ho independently undertook research looking at cultural diversity in Australia’s 10 major theatre companies. He found that 70 out of 95 productions were both written and directed by artists with an Anglo-Celtic background.*
  • In 2021, Media Diversity Australia released the first comprehensive picture of who tells, frames and produces stories in Australian television news and current affairs. It found more than 75% of presenters, commentators and reporters have an Anglo-Celtic
    background while only 6% have an Indigenous or non-European background.*
  • In 2021, the Australia Council released research demonstrating that Australia’s arts and culture does not yet reflect the diversity of our population.*

In this context, Diversity Arts Australia is calling for:

  1. The National Cultural Policy to be fully funded through adequate and sustainable resourcing for policy implementation, and monitoring and evaluation.
  2. Equity-tested funding which reflects the demographics of the Australian population, with at least 39% of all funding allocated, to be earmarked for people from CaLD backgrounds.
  3. A longer-term investment of $15.4 million in building CaLD capacity in the Arts and Creative Sectors.
  4. An additional $134 million per year to the Australia Council for the Arts to invest in four-year funded arts organisations, project initiatives including new work with funding dedicated to historically excluded communities.


Recommendations fall under our proposal for an industry-led anti-racism strategy. The arts and creative industries are well poised to be leaders in enacting the Australian Human Rights Commission’s National Anti-Racism Framework, with the Albanese Government committing $7.5 million dollars toward the development and implementation of the Framework.*

The Australian arts and creative sectors need investment which ensures people who experience structural exclusions have opportunities to meaningfully participate in this economy.

1. Resourcing and implementation of the National Cultural Policy

It is vital that the new National Cultural Policy is fully funded. In the context of the pandemic and cost of living crisis, the arts and creative sectors are still extremely vulnerable and so investment must be made to ensure that Australians are able to access work and recreation in our industries. Diversity Arts recommends that the Federal Budget reflect the rebuilding and safeguarding of the arts and creative sectors as vital to all portfolios and the Australian economy more broadly. Crucial to this resourcing and implementation are principles of equity and inclusion to ensure all Australians can safely access our sectors (see next recommendation).

Further, monitoring and evaluation of the policy should be key to the resourcing, with a focus on the experiences of people who have historically been excluded from the arts. This includes First Nations people, racially marginalised CaLD communities and people with disability.

Please also see the joint submission Diversity Arts have made with the Consortium of Peak Arts Bodies.

2. Ensure all funding is equity tested

Diversity Arts makes the case for equity tested funding to increase CaLD participation in the arts and creative sectors. There is great economic value in arts-based participation for CaLD and migrant communities, including in maintaining wellbeing, professional development and employment. Due to the lack of employment pathways for diverse Australians in the creative industries, there is much untapped potential to generate income for the Australian economy.

Migrant and diasporic communities have international connections, translating into international marketplaces. These communities’ skills, talents and connections must therefore be properly utilised. Diversity Arts Australia recommends:

  • To reflect the Australian population, 39% of Federal funding in the arts and creative sectors should be allocated to CaLD, migrant and refugee productions, artists and creative workers. This should also include professional development and employment pathways for underrepresented artists and creative workers.
  • Equity tested funding to support young, marginalised artists and creative workers’ economic futures. 45% of young* Australians are either first or second generation migrants.* CALD young people need to be supported during the pandemic
    recovery. Therefore 40% of equity-tested CaLD arts funding should be used to support skills development and professional opportunities for young, underrepresented CaLD people working in the arts and creative sectors.

3. Invest $15.4 million in building CaLD capacity in the arts and creative sectors

Provide a dedicated $15.4 million investment in building cultural and linguistically diverse capacity in the arts and creative sectors, including via creating a CaLD Employment and Participation Pathways Strategy, developing cultural archives and systems to recognise the historical contributions of CaLD artists, and invest in future-proofing the arts and creative sectors by supporting a national sector-wide capacity and training program in equity and inclusion.

This investment is outlined as follows:

4. An additional $134 million per year to the Australia Council for the Arts to invest in four-year funded arts organisations, project initiatives, including new work.

This money should be distributed in consultation with the Consortium of National Peak Arts Organisations. Further, and as outlined above, this funding must be equity tested to ensure funds are fairly distributed.

Of this $134 million, we request the Government ensure that this funding is equity-tested and that 39% of funding is designated for creatives and communities from CaLD backgrounds.

Diversity Arts Australia also endorses the recommendations made by our peer organisations who form the Consortium of National Peak Arts Organisations, as outlined in the aforementioned joint submission.

We welcome the opportunity to discuss the contents of this Submission with you further.

Kind regards
Lena Nahlous
Diversity Arts Australia


¹ These organisations are: APRA/AMCOS, Arts Access Australia, Ausdance National, Australian Museum and Galleries Assoc, Australian Music Centre, Australian Writer’s Guild, BlakDance, Live Performance Australia, Moogahlin Arts Centre, National Association for the Visual Arts, Performing Arts Connections Australia, Regional Arts Australia, Screen Producers Association, Symphony Services Australia, Theatre Network Australia.
² Our use of the term “culturally and linguistically diverse” is inclusive of people who are first, second or third generation migrants or members of ethnic communities. This includes Australia-born people who may self-identify or engage with the languages, customs or cultural specificities of ancestral heritages that differ from those of Anglo-Australians. This also includes people from refugee backgrounds and people on temporary visas. However we understand the limitations of this term, including that people tend not to identify as “culturally and linguistically diverse”. We use CaLD while acknowledging that the term can’t capture the nuance and lived experience of different people based on culture, ethnicity, residential status, language, class, gender and sexuality. At times we refer to people, communities and creatives of colour to further emphasise that non-Anglo-Celtic communities experience the sector through the framework of race and of being negatively racialised people. We also at times refer to “culturally and racially marginalised” people, communities and artists. Australia Council for the Arts, Towards Equity: A research overview of diversity in Australia’s arts and cultural sector (2021) https://australiacouncil.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Towards-Equity-Report.pdf
³Australian Human Rights Commission (2018). The Australian Human Rights Commission data is based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics Census data 2011 and 2016, and the Reserve Bank of Australia’s Race and Cultural Identity Employee Resource Group analysis: Australian Human Rights Commission (2018), op. cit., 7 and 33.
*Australia Council for the Arts, Creating Our Future: Results from the National Arts Participation Survey (2020)
*Diversity Arts Australia, Shifting the Balance Report (2019)
*Australia Council for the Arts, Making Art Work Report (2017) https://www.australiacouncil.gov.au/research/making-art-work/
*Screen Australia, Seeing Ourselves: Reflections on Diversity in Australian TV Drama (2016),
*Kim Ho, Cultural Diversity in Australian Theatre (2017)
*Media Diversity Australia, Who Gets To Tell Australian Stories? (2021)
*Australia Council for the Arts, Towards Equity: A research overview of diversity in Australia’s arts and cultural sector (2021)
*Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Andrew Giles, has stated that “An Albanese Labor
Government will deliver on an anti-racism strategy where the Morrison Government has failed to act, to ensure no matter where
you are from, no Australian is left behind.” Andrew Giles (2022) LABOR COMMITS TO NEW ANTI-RACISM STRATEGY,
*Young people are here defined as 12-24 year olds.
*Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network adapted from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2016).
*This is our recommended term based on our extensive experience in undertaking similar projects