Australian Cultural Compact

Developing a Compact to support and guide a vision for the future of culture and the arts in Australia.

On Monday 26 and Tuesday 27 March 2018 Arts Front brought together 40 leading artists, policymakers, academics and rights advocates from across the country for the Arts Front Rights Symposium. Over two days at the Brisbane Powerhouse the attendees worked on the development of an Arts Front 2030 Visioning Framework.

During the two days the attendees took a hands on approach to interrogating a suite of international rights agreements to which Australia is a signatory, and unpacking what they mean in practical terms for the task of developing a framework for a shared vision for the future of arts and culture in Australia.

A national working group formed during the Symposium is working a draft Cultural Compact that is due for public release and input in January 2019. That includes the development a First Nations Cultural Bill of Rights lead by First Nations delegates to the Symposium.

Australian Cultural Compact – 2030 - Draft prologue

The Australian Cultural Compact sets out shared principles and agreed actions to re-imagine culture and the arts in Australia by 2030.

For Australia to fulfill its potential as a nation culture and arts needs to move in from the margins to take on leadership roles. Under the Compact artists and cultural leaders agree to strengthen relationships and build true solidarity. It calls on artists and cultural leaders to stand together, take ownership and responsibility for the future of the arts and the country, and lead change through our day to day actions.

The Compact is a response to the national policy void and the failure of our political and legal systems, our corporations and institutions to provide leadership and create the society in which we want to live. It aims to provide the cultural and arts sectors with a shared framework to connect and coordinate in addressing national watershed issues through collective action (treaty with First Nations, climate change, asylum seekers, inclusion, equality, diversity, etc).

The Compact represents a radical repositioning of culture and the arts in Australia. It rejects the marginal status of culture and the arts, reimagining it at the centre of everything we do as individuals, as communities and as a country. The Compact rejects the predominantly economic criteria for measuring the value of culture and arts. It seeks to reclaim culture and arts as fundamental to part of how we live our lives, adopting the definitions and understanding of culture and the arts demonstrated by Australia’s First Nations cultures.

The Compact actively applies the principles and values of First Nations culture and arts and the critical roles it plays in providing the foundation for everything we do. It acknowledges the leadership, strength and resilience that First People provide and draws on the wisdom, experiences, insights and values coming from the world’s longest continuous cultures. Through the leadership of Australia’s First Peoples, the Compact aims to help the arts sector gain a richer and deeper understanding and connection to the concepts of country that you live and work on and your place within that country.

The Compact is a rejection of partisan politics and political ideologies in favour of a commitment to fundamental shared values derived from and underpinned by the international conventions and rights agreements that benchmark our expectations of humanity. This starts with the Declaration of Human Rights, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and the 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression and expands to include a host of agreements and conventions both ratified and emerging.