How privileged I feel to have attended author Neil Gaiman’s talk at the Perth Festival on the weekend. He superbly translates thoughts into well crafted stories from paper to spoken word. His storytelling has the ability to transport us into his imaginary world. Mythological tales mixed with personal accounts of friends suffering from Alzheimer’s, along with children’s tales, had 1700 attendees enraptured.

Neil discussed many interesting topics, of which I’m now left to contemplate.

I’ve enjoyed several Perth Festival and Perth Fringe World shows over the past few weeks. I’m left feeling immensely thankful for the artists whose creative output has the ability to deeply affect people and give so much joy. I congratulate all creators and makers who produce work, have the courage to share it and open their work and themselves up to public criticism.

This led me to ponder the current state of the Arts in Australia.

Even if we don’t always acknowledge it, most Australians experience the Arts and its benefits on a daily basis. Radio, TV, movies, exhibitions, public art, gigs, festivals and the like… The Arts makes an intrinsic contribution to our wellbeing, health and happiness. It helps to connect us through creativity.

The Arts employs more people in Australia than mining, IT or essential services. It’s also one of the fastest-growing industries. The Bureau of Communications and Arts Research (BCAR) 2018 analysis shows a 30% increase in the value of cultural and creative activity in Australia, from $86 billion in 2008-09 to $111.7 billion in 2016-17. That equates to 6.4% of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016-17.

In December ScoMo announced the Department of Communications and the Arts will be rolled into the new ‘Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications’. This sums up how the government views the Arts and is a sad step backwards.

I strongly value the Arts and encourage you to keep discovering and supporting.