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Local governments in Australia recognise the fundamental importance of community arts, cultural development and heritage in local communities. Councils also recognise the important role of community cultural development in helping to achieve other social, economic, environmental and overall governance objectives, including increased civic participation in decision making within their municipality. 

ALGA represents the interest of local governments nationally and advocates of behalf of councils and their communities for a national approach to arts and culture and high levels of collaboration between all levels of government and key stakeholders.

There are 537 councils in Australia. Each plays a critically important role in shaping ‘places’ in which people live and work. Many councils have community cultural development embedded into their corporate and strategic documents. These documents set out the pathways to achieve the communities’ vision for the future, and frequently identify the role that councils will play in fostering community arts, cultural development and increasingly creative industries at a commercial as well as community level.

In a paper prepared for Cultural Ministers on Cultural Funding by Governments, 2015 – 16, local government expenditure on arts and culture was approximately $1,578.3 million. This was comprised of $233.9 million on capital investment (building and maintenance) and $1,344.5 million on recurrent programs (arts and cultural activities). Together this expenditure forms the building blocks of local and regional arts and cultural experience and life across every community in Australia.

Local programs and opportunities to participate and engage arts and culture are greatly enhanced by arts and cultural programs of the state, territories and the Commonwealth Government, and the private and corporate sector. These include the provision of radio, television, film, digital, orchestras, opera, dance, state and national institutions, and support for major and smaller performing arts companies, touring artists and specific art forms. 

The Cultural Ministers paper shows that total Australian Government expenditure in 2015 – 16 was $2,289.8 million (including $1,347.2 million for radio and television services), and total state and territory expenditure was $1,973.1 million. Total government funding is estimated at $5,841.2 million.

ALGA represents the interests of local governments at Meeting of Cultural Ministers, an interjurisdictional annual meeting of relevant ministers from all levels of government.

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