A ‘natural experiment’ in Australian cultural policy: Australian Government funding cuts disproportionately affect companies that produce more new work and have larger audiences

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Journal Article
International Journal of Cultural Policy, 2020, 26 (1), pp. 81 - 94
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© 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. In Australia, cultural policy settings differentiate between purported ‘small-to-medium’ and ‘major’ performing arts organisations, primarily in relation to their revenue size and institutional stability. This article publishes a quantitative analysis of the relative creative outputs of these Australian performing arts organisations, focusing primarily on the production of so-called ‘new works’: original cultural texts, created and performed recently. Using survey data from 21 Australian performing arts organisations, as well as aggregated government data regarding 173 performing arts organisations, and repertoire data for 8 symphony orchestras, across 7 years, we set out to determine the relationship (if any) of organisational scale and artform to the amount of new work in the Australian publicly subsidised performing arts sector. We find that the majority of the new work is produced by the small-to-medium sector. Smaller organisations are more likely to produce new work than larger ones, and large organisations produce relatively little new work. The small-to-medium sector has, in aggregate, larger audiences than the major companies. These findings have specific implications for Australia’s lively cultural policy debate.
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