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Thursday, 19 August 1993
Page: 321

Senator DEVEREUX —My question is directed to the Minister for the Arts and Administrative Services. In the Distinctly Australian policy statement the government asserted that one of the fundamental aims of its cultural policy is to extend access for all Australians to a diverse range of cultural activities. In what way is the government fulfilling this commitment?

Senator McMULLAN —That is a very appropriate question to ask because it is a policy commitment from which Tasmania has been a very significant beneficiary. Providing opportunities for wider access and participation has been and remains a fundamental aim of our cultural policy. We should all have the opportunity to share the national story being told by the arts and the cultural industries of Australia. It is important that we make it available broadly.

  One of the most significant initiatives in this area in recent years has been the Playing Australia performing arts touring program. Since January this year, Playing Australia has made it possible for more than 50 performing arts companies to take their productions across state boundaries to towns and regional centres around Australia. The big winners have been Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the regional cities and centres of Australia.

  In this budget we have extended that program. We have also added to it a visual arts touring program which will enable more Australians to enjoy the visual arts, crafts and collections of heritage and scientific materials of our national collecting institutions and of state and regional institutions. One of the important things about both the performing arts and the visuals arts touring program has been and will be that not only are collections in the major capital cities and the arts groups performing in the major capital cities being taken to regional cities where it was not otherwise possible, but also performers and artists in those areas are getting access to the wider audience of people in the major capital cities. So people from Broome are performing their work in Melbourne and people from Tasmania have the opportunity to get access to the audiences of the mainland.

  We will be providing $1 million this financial year and a further $5 million over the next three years to enable both major collecting institutions and smaller organisations to tour exhibitions of the visual arts more widely. They will move across state and territory boundaries to cities and regional centres around the country, making the best art available to Australians available to all Australians wherever they live.

  The cultural policy Distinctly Australian, which was delivered in the budget, has a variety of components. It covers a diverse range of cultural activities. A credible and coherent policy requires more than just turning up to glitzy opening nights and getting one's photograph taken with international artists as they visit the country. I know that the Leader of the Opposition has taken on the role of arts spokesperson; I suppose he hopes some charisma might rub off. But can I advise him that an arts policy requires more than five visits to 42nd Street.