Funding of Australian Museums & Heritage

I’m again having a closer look at the Australian Bureau of Statistics overview of Arts & Culture in Australia (which I initially referred to here).

Chapter 4 looks at funding of the Australian Cultural sector, which takes into account Government funding of inter alia, cultural heritage, performing arts, literature, broadcasting, multimedia.

I’ve looked in particular at the funding figures for “art museums”, “other museums and cultural heritage” and “environmental heritage”, which together would encompass museums, historic sites, national parks and so forth. The total amount of Government funding of these, across all three levels of Government, adds up to over $2.5 billion per annum:

Government funding of heritage (Source: ABS)

From FY2007-08 to 2008-09, total heritage funding at Federal level increased from $604.8 million to $729.8 million (a 21% increase), but this hasn’t been broken down by category (‘Heritage’ includes the categories listed above plus libraries and archives). They did say however, that it represented an 18% increase in funding per person for heritage.

The state-by-state breakdown of funding changes between 2007/08 and 2008/09 presents a far more complex picture:

Changes in state funding - figures from Table 4.3, ABS report

The ABS report shows figures from both years. I’ve re-resented the figures as a percentage change (percentages are based on the 2007/08 amount), and have coloured large (ie. >6%) increases in green, and large decreases in red. (Sorry this is all rather complicated!) But interesting – the rather modest changes in the bottom-line totals betray a far-from-uniform national picture.

In NSW (and to a lesser extent WA), it looks like significant funds have been taken from built heritage in order to fund increases to environmental heritage (which shows only a modest % increase because it’s a much larger pot to start with). Victoria, TAS and NT seem to have done more or less the opposite. And then in Qld and SA, there have been across-the-board increases.

Does anyone have the inside story of what’s going on here? I’m wondering whether large capital projects are skewing the figures in some instances, because they will artificially inflate the figures for a given year. Or are there other explanations?

Local government funding is similarly broken down, but there are several caveats associated with the data so I won’t elaborate here.

The final observation I’ll note about funding is the reported funding mix of museums:

Museums Income Sources (source: ABS)

Not surprisingly, some two thirds of income comes from Government sources, either Local, State or Federal. Although it’s not explicitly mentioned, the 24% figure is presumably income from ticket sales, retail, and so forth. Sponsorship and donations are a relatively minor part of the funding mix. No huge surprises there. The only cultural organisation to receive a significant amount of funding from sponsorship is ‘Performing arts festivals’, with this accounting for nearly one quarter of their total income.

One Reply to “Funding of Australian Museums & Heritage”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *