Attempts to address cost-of-living relief pressures, power bill rebates and a boost to the Commonwealth Rent Assistance program were among the headliners in Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ third federal budget speech, but the arts also managed to secure some fiscal love.

Among those to benefit from government largesse will be the Arts8 collective – Australia’s leading national training organisations in the performing arts – who will, between them, be $115.2m better off (over four years).

Of the Arts8 members, the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) will take the largest share of the promised spending, receiving $51.9m over four years. NAISDA Dance College, Australia’s premier Indigenous training college, will receive $13m; the Flying Fruit Fly Circus $7.3m and The Australian Ballet School $6.5m.

$3.7 million has been earmarked for the Australian National Academy of Music and $3 million for the Australian Youth Orchestra.

NIDA, Sydney. Photo supplied

The funding goes some way to reversing a sharp decline in government funding for arts training over the past decade, as revealed in a recently-published report commissioned from consultants KordaMentha into the sustainability of the sector. It found, for example, that government funding of NIDA had declined by 25 percent over 10 years in the face of rising costs.

The funding increase forms part of the Labor government’s five-year national cultural policy, Revive, which has already boosted funding for Australia’s nine national collecting institutions, including the National Gallery of Australia and The National Library of Australia.

An aerial shot of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra.

The Canberra Symphony Orchestra. Photo © Martin Ollman

Other budget day winners announced prior to Chalmers’ speech on Tuesday night include The Canberra Symphony Orchestra (CSO), which will see a $4.1 million funding boost over the next four years, and the Darwin Symphony Orchestra (DSO), which is set to receive an additional $1m in funding – an increase that will provide paid roles for its Principal players for the first time in the orchestra’s 35-year history.

$8.6m was allocated to the Revive Live program to provide support to live music venues and festivals showcasing Australian bands and artists.

$14.5m was directed to support the production of Australian children’s screen content. $9.3m is to be allocated to expand and enhance the National Film and Sound Archive’s capacity to store highly flammable nitrate-based films in its archives, materials that are currently at risk of being lost.

Australia’s creative and cultural industries are estimated to be worth $122.3 billion to the national economy. In comparison, the sports industry was found in a 2020 government-funded analysis to be contributing just over a 10th of that, at $14.4 billion.

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