Following what was a banner year for Australian music locally, and especially internationally – with the likes of Gotye and Tame Impala flying the flag for Australia with their critical and commercial successes overseas – it seems that Australia’s politicians are starting to take note, pouring more financial investments into the music scene.

Federal Arts Minister Simon Crean championed Australian music and bands for his keynote address at the Music Connects India conference in Mumbai last November, before returning home to announce the Government was injecting $200,000 towards helping Aussie artists tour and deliver workshops nationally and through regional areas. While, over in Victoria, the state government handed $2.4 million to youth music program FReeZA used to fund live music events and underage concerts across the state throughout 2013.

Now The Greens are getting in on the act, calling for room in the federal budget to help develop young musicians attempting to make a living from their artistic endeavours, with Greens leader Christine Milne announcing three new funding initiatives, worth approx. $10 million, to support the arts.

As the the Sydney Morning Herald reports, Senator Milne is currently attending Hobart’s MONA FOMA arts and music festival – featuring the likes of controversial noise-hop outfit Death Grips, Sugar Mountain headliners Dirty Projectors, and David Byrne & St. Vincent’s terrific live pairing – and the Greens leader applauded the festival. “Hobart is abuzz with the MONA FOMA, everybody should be extremely jealous that they’re not in Hobart right now,” she said.

“If anyone ever needed to be reassured about the significance of a major investment in art and culture in terms of economic returns as well as the livability of cities, you only have to look at what’s happened in Tasmania,” Milne says of the arts and music festival where the Greens Leader announced the three new funding initiatives, that will give the arts a $10 million boost.“I think that in Australia it’s the usual story where so many artists struggle to make a living… while they pursue the love that they have for their art.” – Christine Milne, Greens Leader

The new packages would help ensure artists were paid for their work at exhibitions, performances, and live shows, said Senator Milne. “I think that in Australia it’s the usual story where so many artists struggle to make a living and they’re trying to work two or three jobs in order to be able to keep a roof over their heads, while they pursue the love that they have for their art,” she said.

Sr Milne emphasised that arts funding should focus as much on the development of emerging artists, as much as the “excellence” of established acts. “During the Howard [government] years there was a tendency to focus more and more on established artists [but] we need to be encouraging the next generation,” said Senator Milne.

The new Green arts policy includes the new Artists Fund, which injects $3 million annually, “to assist in the payment of artists’ fees and help artists make a living from their art,” according to the party leader. Another $5 million a year is set aside for an Art and Research Development grant program to develop ‘experimentation and risk-taking’ art and music.

The final initiative is Playing Australia, a body that which sources $2 million in funding to administer grants for performing arts tours. “Reputationally [sic], its critical that [artists] are able to tour,” said the Greens leader.

The Greens will advocate their arts policy as the 2013-14 budget is developed in the coming months, and the party plans to take the policy as a major platform to the federal election if it doesn’t mange to make the May budget.

Conversely, as the Sydney Morning Herald points out Labor currently spends more than $740 million annually “directly” on arts and culture, while the Gillard Administration has promised a new National Cultural Policy, which will “set the framework for Australian Government support for arts, culture and creativity for the next ten years,” but aside from Arts Minister Simon Crean’s $200k boost to national touring last November, little else has emerged about the final details of the policy.

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