Labor’s vision for the arts in Victoria

Grassroots support for the thousands of creatives across our state is essential for the sector to thrive, argues Minister for Creative Industries Steve Dimopoulos MP.

Creativity and culture are synonymous with Victoria.

Our collective cultural identity has been shaped by the thousands of creatives that call this state home, with Victorians long being the beneficiaries of the stories artists share in our many theatres, galleries and live music venues.

Australia’s first public art gallery opened here in Victoria, with the NGV wowing its first visitors in 1861. It was a triumphant moment for the state’s creative industries and a tale of things to come with creativity and culture becoming a part of what it means to be Victorian.

Since those early days our state and its appetite for culture and creativity have evolved significantly, becoming multicultural, multifaceted and endlessly intriguing – offering Victorians a rich and diverse creative offering on any given day.

Our commitment to a progressive society, our commitment to equality, our commitment to embracing our cultural diversity, our commitment to our LGBTIQ+ community, and our commitment to suburban and regional communities all contribute to not only a better society, but a more compelling and robust arts community.

Read: Liberals: The arts are central to Victoria’s identity and economy

Investment by the Andrews Labor Government has ushered in years of growth for the state’s creative sector. It has elevated our cultural institutions to become the best in the country and inspired thousands of Victorians, while attracting national and international audiences with more than 11.6 million visitors descending on the capital of cool.

More visitors means more jobs. That’s why we’ve been delivering creative projects across the state, along with the infrastructure that draws more visitors and provides the spaces and places for Victorian creatives to do what they do best – tell Victorian stories.

We’re investing $1.7 billion to deliver the largest cultural infrastructure project in Australia, including the new The Fox: NGV Contemporary Gallery. It’s a project that will also include the upgrade of Arts Centre Melbourne and restoration of the iconic State Theatre, adding 18,000 square meters of public parkland to Melbourne’s cultural heart.

Read: Winning design for NGV Contemporary revealed

Creativity and culture don’t end at Melbourne’s city limits, it’s why we’re providing more opportunities for Victorians across the state to enjoy the best of Victoria’s creativity, closer to home.

The Andrews Labor Government has invested $34.7 million in the Regional Creative Infrastructure Program to back our regional creative spaces and talent, including a gallery space at the Old Kyneton Primary School, the Castlemaine Goods Shed and Benalla Gallery redevelopments, upgrades at Shepparton Art Museum, new outdoor performance spaces and training centre upgrades at the Gippsland Performing Arts Centre, Torquay Multi Arts Space, Euroa Cinema upgrade and Rex Theatre upgrade.

Australia’s largest regional cultural infrastructure project is also well underway, with the Labor Government’s $140 million investment in the Little Malop St redevelopment delivering new theatres, more dining options, upgraded box-office, administrative and back of house facilities – backing local creatives while offering even more reasons to discover the best Geelong has to offer.

But world-class institutions, creative spaces and places, pubs, clubs and live music venues are nothing without the musicians and creatives that bring them to life.

Grassroots support for the thousands of creatives across our state is essential for the sector to thrive, which is why the Labor Government’s Creators Fund has provided creatives with a stable income base of up to $50,000 for up to six months. A further $23 million is supporting more than 10,000 creative individuals across 12 programs, which have been co-designed by creatives, for creatives.

We know that fit-for-purpose, secure and accessible creative spaces can be hard to find, that’s why our $9 million suite of programs – including Creative Neighbourhoods and Creative Spaces and Places – are so important. These initiatives are providing spaces across the state where creatives can collaborate, develop and present their work, while enlivening and activating local neighbourhoods.

We’ve got a four-year creative industries strategy, designed to grow more jobs, develop skills and cement Victoria’s reputation as a global cultural destination and bold creative leader.

Creative State 2025 will create 60,000 project jobs across the creative industries in the next four years. This represents 40,000 jobs in the screen industry and 20,000 jobs in the broader creative sector.

Read: Creative State 2025: new policy places creativity at the heart of Victoria

We’re also backing a transformational plan for Victoria’s screen industry with a $191.5 million investment over four years, invigorating the sector with a pipeline of major international productions. These productions will strengthen our celebrated local screen production in film, television and games development while also creating more than 40,000 stable creative jobs in the process.

We’re investing in the infrastructure Victoria’s screen industry needs to attract everything from arthouse films and small budget series to international summer blockbusters – with some of the best production staff and talent in the world, epic shooting locations and now the addition of Sound Stage 6. Under the Labor Government, Victoria is now a creative beacon for the biggest film and television projects in the world.

Read: Greens in Victoria: ‘Art is fundamental to our society’

Productions filmed here are creating thousands of local jobs, boosting local businesses and injecting millions of dollars into our economy – and only a Labor Government will continue to deliver those benefits across the state.

If creativity is where Victoria’s heart is, then music is where this state’s collective soul resides.

We’ve delivered on our 2018 election promise to Victorians, creating a landmark strategy to strengthen Victoria’s music industry at every level. Since 2015, Music Works has delivered more than $34 million, including more than $10 million via open grants for more than 700 projects that have helped shape Victoria’s music landscape.

Backing Victoria’s celebrated live music industry and helping artists and perfomers recover from the pandemic, we’ve been getting performers back where they belong – on stages at gigs, venues and festivals, performing to thousands of live music fans across the state.

Labor’s On The Road Again initiative has delivered hundreds of performances in Melbourne’s CBD, suburbs and regions, while Victoria’s biggest ever music festival ALWAYS LIVE is attracting fans from across the country and the world with some of the biggest names in global and Australian music.

But when it comes to catching your favourite artist play a gig, there’s no better place than the hundreds of venues across Victoria.

That’s why we’ve backed the state’s venues with the $8 million Victorian Live Music Venues initiative, which has provided more than 160 live music venues with grants of between $20,000 and $65,000 to support staging live music events.

Victoria is Australia’s live music and cultural capital for a reason. Only a Labor Government will continue backing creatives and live music talent to keep them doing what they do best – shaping our state’s creative identity by inspiring and connecting Victorians across the state.

The Victorian state election is on Saturday 26 November.

The first, from Victorian Greens arts spokesperson Ellen Sandell MP, w

Steve Dimopoulos MP is the Labor member for Oakleigh and Victoria's Minister for Creative Industries, Tourism, Sport and Major Events.