Today, the Greens will announce a multimillion-dollar policy commitment for the Brisbane City Council election campaign, calling for a doubling of council’s annual funding for festivals, events and cultural organisations.
Council currently allocates just $4.1 million per year to its Festivals and Events program, and the Greens want that doubled to $8.2 million.
The Festivals and Events budget allocation includes signature events like Brisbane Festival, Queensland Music Festival and Brisbane Writers Festival, as well 70 suburban community festivals, 42 multicultural festivals, and fifteen major cultural organisations (such as Metro Arts and the Queensland Youth Orchestra).
The Greens say the bulk of the new funding should go towards smaller festivals and local arts projects over major events and bigger institutions.
Arts administrator, DJ and Greens candidate for Central Ward, Trina Massey, says the flow-on impacts from investing in the arts are widespread, but that in recent years council hasn’t invested as much as it could have in supporting local community festivals.
“The arts are an essential part of a healthy society. Without music, theatre, film-making, storytelling, poetry, circus, dance and visual art, life just isn’t quite the same,” Trina says.
“There’s so much great stuff going on in Brisbane, but council doesn’t put in enough financial support, which often means event organisers and performers are overworked and underpaid.”
Gabba Ward Councillor Jonathan Sri says there’s plenty of room in the council’s $3 billion annual budget to increase festival funding. “Every year, council spends hundreds of millions of dollars on unnecessary road-widening projects. For roughly a 1% decrease in the roads budget, we could increase funding for festivals and arts organisations by 100%.”
“Thousands of residents enjoy our suburban community festivals and multicultural festivals, but a lot of them run on the smell of an oily rag and a huge amount of volunteer labour. Doubling this budget would mean at least 50 additional community festivals receive council funding, as well as funding increases for existing festivals and organisations.”
“Unfortunately for a council of its size, BCC puts far too little funding towards the arts.”
“Long-term, I’d like our city to overtake Melbourne and become a major regional hub for the visual and performing arts,” Councillor Sri says.
FURTHER POLICY DETAIL BELOW...
It’s time to double Brisbane City Council funding for festivals, events and cultural organisations.
Access to the arts is an essential part of a good life and a healthy society. Without music, theatre, film-making, storytelling, poetry, dance and visual art, life just isn’t quite the same. These artforms add intrinsic value to the cultural identity of a city and its people, contributing positively to everyone’s quality of life.
Cultural and Arts Festivals play an important role in shaping our city’s culture, identity and sense of community, enabling human expression and social bonding, generating revenue for communities and creating pathways for community participation in the arts. For First Nations people, they present opportunities for engagement with the broader community, connecting them with living stories and landscapes of First Nations culture and history. Multicultural festivals are particularly important for maintaining cultural identity and building relationships across ethnic communities.
Festivals and cultural organisations help us find common ground, share important new ideas, increase connectedness and enable artistic exploration. They’re also a lot of fun.
The Greens believe in a future where Brisbane’s cultural events and institutions are nurtured and supported to thrive. With this in mind, the Greens are calling for a doubling of council funding for Brisbane Cultural Organisations and Festivals from $4.1 Million to $8.2 million per year.
We’re calling for a doubling of funding to the entire Festivals and Events program (5.1.1 of the annual budget), including Signature City Festivals, Suburban Community Festivals, Multicultural Festivals and Cultural Organisations.
In a world of rapidly changing technologies, consumer tastes, social trends and government sector budget cuts, local festivals and organisations that help make Brisbane so special are facing growing insecurity and anxiety about their future. When governments measure the value of individual cultural events based purely on their short-term financial impacts, this ignores their more significant long-term positive contributions to society. The council’s current undervaluing of the arts leaves stakeholders in the sector underfunded, underutilised and unsupported.
Currently, dozens of suburban community festivals, from the Acacia Ridge Party in the Park to the Kurilpa Derby in West End, only receive a combined total of $797 000 in BCC funding each year.
Council funding for multicultural festivals such as Paniyiri, Diwali and Africa Day is only $573 000 per year.
Fifteen of the city’s leading cultural organisations - such as Laboite Theatre, Metro Arts and Cluster Arts - receive total annual funding from council of only $386 000.
Meanwhile, the city’s signature festivals - Brisbane Festival, Brisbane Writers Festival and the biennial Queensland Music Festival - only receive $2.4 million in annual funding.
(The full list of multicultural and community festivals that currently receive recurrent funding in council’s annual budget is available at the bottom of this document)
The Greens believe that the majority of new funding should go towards smaller community festivals and arts projects.
Doubling the Festivals and Events budget would mean more performers and events organisers (of both major festivals and local community festivals) are paid properly for their work.
Increased funding would mean that the dedicated volunteers who make our suburban and multicultural festivals happen don’t have to work quite so hard. It would also mean that more local festivals would be eligible for recurrent funding. New events - particularly those organised by emerging ethnic community groups - would get more funding and support from council.
Signature festivals like Brisbane Festival, Brisbane Writers Festival and Queensland Music Festival, could include more free-entry shows featuring local artists, increasing access for lower-income residents and visitors. It would mean more shows and events in suburban locations outside the inner-city.
More funding would also ensure better promotion of existing events, meaning more people get to hear about all the great stuff that’s already happening in our city. The security of recurrent annual funding in the council budget would allow event organisers to plan ahead, think ambitiously and invest in longer-term plans for their event or organisation.
Cultural and Arts festivals help us to promote cultural identity, connect communities, and view the world through different lenses. They can increase engagement, broaden understanding across social and cultural divides and reimagine the design and use of public spaces.
Even small investments in festivals and events can deliver significant returns to the economy. Arts and cultural events are closely connected to other parts of the economy including the food and beverage industry, hotels, transportation and tourism. Research from a 2015 study by the University of Tasmania shows every dollar spent on live music returns three dollars of benefit to the broader community. This more comprehensive community benefit includes job creation across related sectors. Jobs within the Cultural and Arts sector are recognised as highly skilled and resistant to automation. Investment increases job growth in the industry and the retention of specialised works within the local community.
Where would the money from?
The current $4.2 million funding allocation for festivals and cultural organisations represents a very small component of council’s total annual budget (approximately $3 billion). Compared to other council services and operations, festivals and events are grossly under-funded. For example, a single suburban intersection upgrade can cost upwards of $10 million.
Each year, BCC spends hundreds of millions of dollars widening roads and building non-essential ‘infrastructure.’ Council’s ‘Infrastructure for Brisbane’ budget varies each year, but is in the realm of $400 million per year, most of which is spent on road-widening.
For a 1% decrease in the roads budget, we could increase funding for festivals and cultural organisations by 100% to $8.2 million per year. We envisage that a 1% reduction would mean less money is wasted each year on non-essential road-widening projects.
Community festivals that currently receive recurrent annual funding from BCC
- • Africa Day Festival
- • All Nations Festival
- • Belong Short Film Festival
- • Brisbane Chinese Cultural Festival
- • Brisbane Chinese Festival
- • Brisbane Fiesta Latina
- • Brisbane French Festival
- • Brisbane Lunar New Year Multicultural Festival
- • Brisbane Serbian Festival
- • Brisbane Thai Festival
- • Buddha Birth Day Festival
- • Carole Park Harmony Day
- • Chanukah in the City
- • Children's Moon Festival
- • Diwali Indian Festival of Lights
- • Eid Down Under
- • Eritrean Community Multicultural Festival
- • Festitalia
- • Festival of Slavic Culture (biennial)
- • Filipino Barrio Fiesta Brisbane
- • India Day Fair
- • Indian Bazaar
- • International Tartan Day
- • Korean Festival Day
- • MOSAIC
- • Mother's Day Multi Culture Dumpling Festival
- • Multicultural Taste of the World Festival
- • Paniyiri
- • Parkinson Multicultural and Dragon Boat Festival
- • Persian New Year (Nowruz)
- • Scandinavian Festival
- • Senior Multicultural Dinner
- • South Pacific Islander Christmas Celebrations
- • St Patrick’s Day Parade
- • Sunnybank Hills State School Multi-Fest
- • SunPAC Summerfest
- • Three Saints Festival
- • United Nations Day
- • Vesak – A Sri Lankan Experience
- • Vietnamese New Year Festival
- • World Refugee Day
- • Zillmere Multicultural Festival.
Suburban Community Festivals:
- • 4MBS Festival of Classics
- • Acacia Ridge Party in the Park
- • Anzac Day Dawn Service and Students’ Anzac Commemoration Ceremony
- • Ashgrove Carols by Candlelight
- • Backbone Festival
- • Backyard Bonanza
- • Bardon Community Carols
- • Bay Wave Youth and Community Festival
- • Brisbane Billycart Championships
- • Brisbane Cheese Festival
- • Brisbane International Jazz Festival
- • Brisbane Kite Festival
- • Brisbane Organic Growers Fair
- • Brisbane Portrait Prize
- • Brisbane Pride Festival
- • Brisbane Sings
- • Brookfield Christmas
- • Brookfield Show
- • Carols in the Park
- • Carols on the Range
- • Centenary Community Christmas Carols
- • Christmas 4 Kids
- • Christmas in July
- • Christmas in Sandgate
- • Christmas in the Grove
- • Christmas in the Park
- • Creative 3
- • Darra Street Festival
- • Einbunpin Festival
- • End of the Line Festival
- • Fair on the Green
- • Ferny Grove Festival
- • Goldicott
- • Great Aussie Pool Party
- • History Alive: A Journey Through Time
- • Indigo Fair
- • Keperra Christmas
- • Kurilpa Derby and Kurilpa Beggars’ Banquet
- • Lanham Park May Fair
- • Mandalay Jacaranda Festival
- • Manly Harbour Village Halloween Street Party
- • Moorooka Family Fun Day
- • Morningside Festival
- • Movies in the Park
- • Mt Coot-tha Songwriters Festival
- • Mt Gravatt Show
- • Music by the Sea
- • National Archaeology Week
- • National Week of Deaf People
- • Nundah Village Festival
- • Opera in the Gardens
- • Out of the Box (biennial)
- • Peaks to Points (biennial)
- • Pullen Vale Folk Festival
- • Queensland Cabaret Festival
- • Queensland Poetry Festival
- • Racecourse Road Up in Lights Festival
- • Rainbow Carnival
- • Runcorn Family Fun Day
- • Sandcliffe Writers Festival
- • Sandgate Bluewater Festival
- • Sherwood Community Festival
- • Spring Hill Alive
- • Teneriffe Festival
- • Toowong Hands and Hearts Fair
- • Wakerley Rotary Christmas Carols
- • West End Film Festival
- • Wynnum Festival of Lights
- • Wynnum Manly Jazz Festival
- • Wynnum Seafood Festival.