Policy report
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This report presents the findings of the Contemporary Visual Arts and Craft Inquiry and was released by the Minister for the Arts and Sports, Senator the Hon. Rod Kemp, on 6 September 2002. It provides valuable insight into the contemporary visual arts and craft sector and details proposals to enhance the sustainability of the sector for the consideration of governments, cultural organisations and the contemporary visual arts and craft community.

The report makes 20 recommendations proposing initiatives in the areas of:

  • achieving stronger recognition and support for individual artists;
  • strengthening the infrastructure for the sector;
  • expanding the market for contemporary visual arts and craft; and
  • resourcing the sector more effectively, including philanthropic incentives.



On 23 July 2001, the then Federal Minister for the Arts and the Centenary of Federation, the Hon. Peter McGauran MP, appointed Mr Rupert Myer to conduct an independent Inquiry into the contemporary visual arts and craft sector.

While the Inquiry followed in the wake of the Major Performing Arts Inquiry it had a wider brief, being required to scope the sector, examine its cultural and economic contribution, and make recommendations on key issues impacting on the future sustainability, development and promotion of the sector as a whole.

The sector, the Inquiry found, comprises around 20 000 visual artists and craft practitioners as well as curators, arts writers and other arts workers, and hundreds of organisations ranging from small artist-run initiatives to the major state galleries. The breadth of the terms of reference, and the number and diversity of stakeholders therefore required the Inquiry

to adopt a methodology that focussed on issues and strategies for the sector rather than specific organisations. For similar reasons, the Inquiry also limited ‘contemporary visual arts and craft’ to broadly mean the work of living artists and craft practitioners and the organisations that support their practice.

The Inquiry received 190 written submissions and consulted widely with artists, craft practitioners, visual arts and craft organisations, and Commonwealth, State and Territory government departments and agencies. The submissions came from individuals and institutions, including the commercial sector, in all States and Territories. Consultations included discussions with many stakeholders at artists’ studios, university art schools, contemporary art spaces, craft and design organisations, commercial galleries, Indigenous art and craft centres and philanthropic organisations. The strong impression gained was of a sector that is confident of its talents and abilities, proud of its track record at home and abroad, and enthusiastic about its potential. It is a sector that is used to, but nonetheless increasingly frustrated by, doing more with less. In this regard it is keenly aware that the financial position of other arts sectors has been recently positively addressed.

The Inquiry found that the contemporary visual arts and craft sector makes an important economic contribution through direct creative, innovative and experimental activity, through the commercial art market, and by providing employment. Indirectly, the sector contributes as part of the broader creative economy including other arts sectors, design, advertising, and the sciences.

The most recent estimate available for the value added by the sector to GDP was approximately $160 million, comparable with that of the record companies and distributors sector ($162 million in 1995–96) and approximately 40 per cent that of the performing arts industries ($415.7 million in 1996–97). This estimate does not include the value added
of arts education activities, interest groups or government administration—nor does it reflect the value of the social and external benefits the sector provides. Activity in the contemporary visual arts and craft sector will also have flow-on, or multiplier, effects on other parts of the economy.

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