National Cultural Policy on Track says Crean

Arts Minister Simon Crean has moved to assure members of his 22-member reference group that the national cultural policy is “on track” amid disappointment in the arts sector about its delay. Release of the long-awaited policy was expected close to this week’s federal budget, but an email from Crean’s office, obtained by The Australian, now puts the date “later this year”.A review of the government’s peak funding agency, the Australia Council, was due last month but has not been delivered. The review is being conducted by corporate advisers Gabrielle Trainor and Angus James to examine the Australia Council’s governance and administrative model.

It is understood Crean wants to finalise the NCP in line with the review’s findings and recommendations.

The NCP would also take into account the Convergence Review into media, released last week, and the white paper into Australia’s relationship with Asia.

A separate report into private-sector support for the arts, prepared by Harold Mitchell, was released in March and recommends reforms to encourage philanthropic giving. The NCP was promised by Labor at the 2007 federal election and Crean invited public submissions last August. Late last year he convened a reference group of cultural leaders, chaired by Julianne Schultz, to examine proposals.

Lobby group ArtsPeak has expressed disappointment at the policy’s delay.

The email from Crean’s office, however, hints at arts initiatives in tomorrow’s budget.

It says Crean will brief the reference group on “cultural measures in the 2012-13 budget and their relationship with the finalisation of the national cultural policy”.

A statement from Crean’s office says: “The national cultural policy is on track to be delivered, with the outcomes of the review of the Australia Council, Convergence Review and Australia in the Asian Century white paper becoming available to add to its depth and scope”.

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