New Arts Party
Source: Australian Electoral Commission
Deborah Stone, ‘Australia registers world’s first Arts Party’, ArtsHub, 24 September 2014
The Arts Party has been registered by the Australian Electoral Commission and will field candidates at the next Federal Election, putting arts and culture firmly on the political and social agenda.
The Party aims to be an independent voice for arts, culture and creativity. It will run candidates in State and Federal elections with a political agenda of improving arts funding, building creative communities and increasing understanding of the importance of creativity to the knowledge economy.
‘We are now official and we are going to be on the ballot paper for the Upper House and in the Lower House for the Federal Election in two years,’ Party Leader PJ Collins told ArtsHub.
Although there have been attempts at a culture party in Sweden and a couple of other jurisdictions no other country has ever registered an Arts Party, as far as Collins’ research has determined. But the uniqueness of the endeavour and the challenges of moving from a small base to an effective parliamentary party do not faze him.
‘The Greens started as a tiny party in Tasmania and now they are all around the world,’ he points out.
The Arts Party hopes to do for the arts what the Greens have done for the environment in getting their subject firmly on the political agenda.
‘We want the politicians, the people who are running the country, to realise there are votes in art and culture. At the moment they don’t think there are and as a result it gets no respect,’ said Collins.
The Party’s first goal will be to get a Senator into Federal Parliament. The Party is also in the process of registering State parties and hopes to be ready to contest the Queensland State Election next year.
The Arts Party already has 800 paid-up members, who pay $20 for a three-year membership (or $10 for students) It has raised basic initial funding, using a crowdfunding campaign but intends to mount more fundraising efforts sooner. Along with Collins, key players are actor Nicholas Gledhill, playwright and screenwriter Alex Broun, photographer Dean Golja, and arts management all-rounder Bernadette Mansfield.
The Party is emphasising grass-roots membership. Meetings are being held in state capitals to bring together members and supporters and Collins said issues would be put to members through online polling so the party had a highly democratic model.
‘We are doing all of this right now without pulling any celebrity angles out. Everybody says “Oh you should be pulling in Cate Blanchett,” and we will of course be getting those people in down the line but right now it’s all about our members, all the meetings with everyone and really gauging from them what the big issues are.’
As a result of its initial planning, The Arts Party has established four principles:
- Increasing support for the arts
- Encouraging creativity both at an individual level and in industry
- Investing in education and supporting a knowledge economy
- Building community through creative activity
Collins said it was essential for the party to communicate that it was not pushing a single-issue but seeking to address the need to integrate art and culture into the whole of society including education, health and industry.
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