As part of the Australian Music Industry Network (AMIN), MusicNSW were instrumental in driving the I ? MUSIC AND I VOTE campaign around the Federal election. As the State election looms we’re again asking you to think about the things you love (music, natch!) before you head to the polling booths on March 26.

We know music isn’t going to decide the election, but with your support we can make music matter to those who make decisions. Lets be part of the agenda, and help pollies set good policy for the growth of contemporary music in NSW.

In 2010 the Australian Bureau of Statistics released a report that shows that NSW has the lowest level of cultural arts funding per capita in Australia. Where the Australian average is $33.14, the NSW government currently expends about half of that on the arts and culture in this state. Our closest neighbour spends more than $15 more on arts and culture per person than we do. Which is a massive difference.

When you look within that, and towards the contemporary music sector, you see there’s not much left for musicians. Only 18% of that funding goes to the arts in the arts/culture split, and within that only 10% goes to music. Including classical music, which is traditionally one of the most heavily funded arts practices in this country. There are few stats as to what goes into contemporary music, but it’s safe to say the support for the sector is minimal in NSW, relative to other states, relative to other art forms, relative to classical music, and relative to the national average.

While this needs to change, this election isn’t about going cap in hand to government. The reality is that while arts funding in NSW needs to improve, especially towards contemporary music, there are so many other, better ways to see growth in the sector.

For starters, NSW needs a government that has a plan for contemporary music. NSW needs a government whose departments recognise that contemporary music isn’t just arts, but that it sits across several portfolios. The music industry has a high diversity of both artistic and business practice, and that is its strength. It effects the social, cultural and economic fabric of this state, but rarely is this recognised at the top level.

You’ve probably heard people bang on about the Place of Public Entertainment regulations and what a relief it was when they were eradicated – that was one of the greatest examples of what can happen when departments work together and don’t sit in silos, removed from the work of their colleagues. In this instance it was the community and both the Arts and Planning Departments that saw that change come about, but since then very little in the way of inter-departmental collaboration has followed this success.

Where money is being spent it needs to be strategic, but linked to that is the need for a strategy to sit across departments. Music doesn’t strictly belong within the category of arts, nor business, trade, planning, or education – it’s all of these. Government activity influences the sector at each of these levels, and the people the music industry needs to recognise that influence is government.

While all ends of the political spectrum begin to fine-tune their policies and electioneering strategies, all we’re asking is for a molecule of thought to be thrown to the contemporary music sector. Come election day, all music fans should look through the different arts policies, where they sit within the political agenda, and make an educated decision. If the party you’re planning to vote for doesn’t have an arts policy, call up your local member and ask why.