Politics, reviews and support for the arts: An analysis of government expenditures on the arts in Australia from 1967 to 2009

Kate MacNeill, University of Melbourne
Jenny Lye, University of Melbourne
Paul Caulfield


This paper uses econometric modelling to examine the relationships between Australian federal government arts expenditure and the political persuasion of the government and government reviews of the arts and cultural sector. The research adds to a number of international studies that have examined cultural expenditures in the United States of America, Austria and in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation (OECD) and found little evidence that the political persuasion of the government had an impact on the level of cultural expenditures. Our results express expenditure relative to total government outlays, and similarly find no consistent evidence of a correlation between political persuasion of the government and funding for the arts—however correlations are observed between government instigated reviews and arts expenditures.

Kate MacNeill <cmmacn@unimelb.edu.au> is a senior lecturer and program director of the Master of Arts and Cultural Management in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Melbourne. She has experience in policy work in the government and non-government sector. Her research focuses on arts leadership, cultural policy and the intersection between law and artistic practice. Jenny Lye <jnlye@unimelb.edu.au> holds the rank of reader/associate professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Melbourne. She has an extensive international publication record in the areas of theoretical and applied econometrics and statistics. Her recent research also includes publications in the statistical analysis of issues in tertiary education. Paul Caulfield <pcaulf@gmail.com> has an extensive background as an arts policy adviser and business analyst, and has lectured in arts and cultural management at the University of Melbourne. His research focus is on event-based cultural tourism and government-based industry development policy for the arts and film industries.

Download in Adobe Acrobat (pdf) format, 140 Kb.