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

Shadow Minister for the Arts and Creative Industries David Davis MP puts forward the Victorian Liberal Party’s arts policies and platforms.

The Liberals believe the arts and creative industries are central to Victoria’s identity and our economy. We have made strong announcements to support the arts and creative industries through this campaign. These can be found on our website.

But the arts and creative industries did it tough in Victoria during COVID under Daniel Andrews. We had the world’s longest lockdowns at 263 days and the harshest restrictions. If you doubt me, see our minority report on the impact of COVID which tabulates the vicious restrictions under the public events framework in Victoria, unnecessarily harsher than in other states.

Many artists have left the sector and others will struggle to recover financially, noting the outrageous failure of Andrews to properly support sole traders. These artists were left to whistle Dixie by Andrews.

So, we have to rebuild the sector to ensure it makes the contribution Victorians would expect given the central role of the sector.

The Liberals and Nationals support the significant cultural and economic contribution made to the Victorian community by the arts in all its manifestations. We recognise the importance of the arts as a generator of cultural tourism, both for the state as a whole and for individual communities and regions. We recognise the importance of state-wide flagship companies and institutions and note the significant cultural leadership Victoria provides within a national context. Local arts activities can provide significant community place making and social cohesion.

Previous Liberal Premiers Sir Rupert Hamer, Jeff Kennett and Ted Baillieu have provided great leadership in support and development of the arts, contributing to the arts infrastructure that has enabled and resulted in national leadership in Victoria.

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

National Gallery of Victoria 3

A Matt Guy government will support the important development of the National Gallery of Victoria 3 on the site behind the current Arts Centre.

We will also establish a $100 million Regional Art Gallery Infrastructure Fund.

This fund will assist with ageing infrastructure, repair of old buildings and will ensure collections are protected. It will also position the 25 regional galleries to contribute further to the cultural and particularly the economic strength of the state. This will include:

  • a contribution of $40 million from the Regional Art Gallery Infrastructure Fund towards the expansion of the Geelong Regional Gallery.
  • a contribution of $15.5 million from the Regional Art Gallery Infrastructure Fund towards the Bendigo Art Gallery expansion project, with the balance to be provided by the Commonwealth Government, City of Greater Bendigo, Bendigo Art Gallery Board and philanthropists.

Separately, we have made a $10 million commitment for a significant expansion of the Benalla Art Gallery, with four new exhibition spaces.

Victoria’s share on national arts funding

For too long Victoria has not had its fair share. We will take a more muscular approach to ensuring Victoria’s share of national Arts and Creative Industries funding reflects properly the significance of the Victorian Arts and Creative Industries sector.

  • A Guy government will give a reference to a Parliamentary Committee to examine Victoria’s share of Arts and Cultural spending at a national level, particularly spending of the Commonwealth government.

Australian National Academy of Music

One key national cultural institution, the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM), based at the South Melbourne Town Hall, needs our support. We have committed $10 million as part of a package of support from local and national government that will support the refurbishment of the town hall as a long-term home for ANAM.

John Daley, the Chair of the ANAM board, welcomed the commitment. ‘We are deeply grateful for this commitment by a future Liberals and Nationals Government in support of our vision to save the Town Hall, and thereby secure our place in this community for the next half century,’ he said.

Read: Labor’s vision for the arts in Victoria

Digital games sector

Victoria has major strengths across the creative industries, including the digital games sector.

Melbourne is already Australia’s leading games development location and the Arcade collaborative working space (a 2013 Napthine Government initiative) has since gone from strength to strength.

  • We will set a vision for Victoria to become the Asia Pacific Region’s leading hub for Digital Games development and the destination of choice for game and E-Sports tourism and commit $8 million per year over 4 years, a total of $32 million, to support the expansion of the digital games industry.


We will also initiate an independent review of the progress of the current Creative State screen strategy and commit additional funding to be determined at the conclusion of the review.

Live music

Pre-pandemic over 29,000 live music gigs were staged across regional Victoria to over five million attendees delivering over $533 million in economic impact.

A key issue for live music is the planning and liquor licensing regulations. Such regulations prevent many events and makes cost a greater factor for many live events.

  • We will review and refine planning and liquor licensing regulations to support night-time economies and to protect affordable creative spaces.

This will be achieved through consultation and the involvement not just of the sector but local councils and communities.

  • We will also investigate the establishment of residencies for music industry professionals in complementary sectors.

This approach would be particularly beneficial for our regional artists and businesses by providing localised training and skills development in partnership with local education institutions and councils.

We will allocate $300,000 per year over the next three years to support this program.

However, there remain significant gaps in the professional and technical capabilities of our small and medium live music venues, hampering opportunities to cater to a growing audience for regional and metropolitan regional performances and touring markets.

  • We will also review insurance support arrangements in conjunction with the creative industries and events sectors with a view to strengthening the current arrangements.
  • We will audit live music capabilities in country Victoria and metropolitan regions to understand where shortfalls in capability exist in live music venues. An initial $1 million will be allocated to support councils and venues to upgrade capabilities.
  • We will also establish an annual Victorian music showcase and industry conference to provide a platform for the showcasing of Victorian industry and building its position and share, and exposure nationally and internationally.
  • Further, artists, local communities, businesses, and individuals will have access to a $150 million Home Grown Events Victoria Fund, which will assist with planning, attracting and re-starting local festivals, shows, live music and entertainment events.


Given music and arts are deeply linked to our history and our culture and play an important role in developing cognitive and social skills, we will provide a sequential, continuous music education in Victorian government primary schools and ensure this education is enriched and developed in secondary school.

Multicultural Arts Victoria

We will also provide a significant increase in support for Multicultural Arts Victoria by providing funding over four years to promote and share multicultural arts with Victorians.


The arts and creative industries sector has been hurt by Daniel Andrews’ high taxes and heavy regulation. We will cut seven of Labor’s 43 new and expanded taxes, including payroll tax with a responsible long-term economic plan to lift the threshold for payroll tax from $700,000 to $1.6 million, which will help some newer and developing players in the sector and help the rebuild from COVID.


This is the third in a series of opinion pieces, exploring the arts policies of a range of political parties, which ArtsHub is publishing in the lead up to the Victorian state election.

The Victorian election takes place on Saturday 26 November.

David Davis MP is Victoria's Shadow Minister for the Arts and Creative Industries, and the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council.