Creative Economy

The economic fallout of COVID-19 has been swift and will have repercussions for years to come. The burden borne by businesses is already uneven and the creative economy and survival of the liberal arts has been a much-discussed topic. Who and what we value as a society is being tested and gaps in support will have long-lasting consequences.


Policy Insights

  • In order to continue Melbourne’s legacy as one of the world’s most liveable cities, policymakers will need to create a financial and logistical plan that sustains the varied facets of Melbourne’s cultural and creative communities and industries. Read more.
  • Policies need to be put in place that support the growing relationship between the creative industries and niche-manufacturing. These should take into account the opportunity for this alliance to be incorporated and contribute to strategic city planning processes. Read more.
  • Policymakers should take this opportunity to learn from the increasing use of online space to fund, promote and enjoy the arts via a new medium. Read more.
  • Frameworks need to be developed for the Australian screen industry, to ensure the diversity of Australian society is celebrated behind, and in front of the camera. Read more.

In order to continue Melbourne’s legacy as one of the world’s most liveable cities, policymakers will need to create a financial and logistical plan that sustains the varied facets of Melbourne’s cultural and creative communities and industries.

Paul Long

What is a key policy challenge facing governments right now (and into the future) that has emerged or been exacerbated by COVID-19?

For the cultural and creative industries - in terms of organisations, venues and workers - the key issue is one of survival and revival. The current crisis of lockdown and isolation have impacted creatives and intermediaries in terms of income and opportunities for collective production. Not everything can be compensated by the digital and, while eager for experiences, audiences will need to be won back. The key issue for governments is to what degree they can play a part in sustaining culture and creativity - those fields of expression that define communities and place, as well as playing a significant part in contemporary economies.

Who (or what) is missing from discussion of the policy challenge you have described?

What extended financial and logistical plans are in place for opening up our cultural assets - the galleries, museums and libraries - and the repertoire of spaces in which we consume creative work - music venues, theatres, cinemas? Publicly-owned places will not function without a continued guarantee of funding and many commercial spaces (the pub venue as well as the concert arena) will require a stimulus - as will the creative workforce. The freelance and self-employed creative worker and cultural intermediaries are suffering as much as any other member of the workforce. How can their continued contribution and commitment be invigorated until the audiences are allowed to return?

If a key government decision maker (e.g. a Cabinet Minister) asked you for advice on how to address this challenge, what would you say? Why?

Policy makers can demonstrate that they care about culture, recognising its indispensability to contemporary citizenship and commerce. If we've managed to get through this crisis it is, in part, because of the culture available to us. Once lockdown eases, perhaps even 'ends', our communities will be looking for human contact and sociability. They will be looking for shared meaning and experience, of making sense of who we are and what we have been through. Of course, this can happen in the digital realm but what of the space specific qualities of shared experience? Atrophying assets and livelihoods need direct financial stimuli to get them going and to sustain them, interventions in aid (relief packages) to enable venues to restart, interventions in chains of supply and circulation. Listen and identify those most in need, but also the need in the long haul! A city like Melbourne is not regularly celebrated as one of the world's most liveable cities or destinations because of its weather (or even its coffee). It is the city’s cultural offer, cultural festivals, vibrant music scenes, and creatives of all stripe that have earned it this reputation. Its recovery is tied to its culture.

Additional resources

Eltham, B. (2020) Coronavirus: Australian arts need a stimulus package. Here is what it should look like. The Conversation.

Banks, M. (2020) The work of culture and C-19. European Journal of Cultural Studies, published online 8 May 2020.


Policies need to be put in place that support the growing relationship between the creative industries and niche-manufacturing. These should take into account the opportunity for this alliance to be incorporated and contribute to strategic city planning processes.

Dr Xin Gu

What is a key policy challenge facing governments right now (and into the future) that has emerged or been exacerbated by COVID-19?

COVID-19 has brought Australia’s manufacturing crisis into the spotlight. A new Federal Government manufacturing task force was set up to develop strategy to re-kindle manufacturing. The new strategy is likely to focus on niche manufacturing, linking closely to creative industries in cities. The challenge is how to support creative industries that have been seen as a replacement, rather than a driver, for manufacturing.

Who (or what) is missing from discussion of the policy challenge you have described?

Nothing has been said about the dynamic linkages between niche manufacturing and creative industries. There is a lack of recognition of the nexus between creative industries and urban manufacturing. In Australia, the two sectors are increasingly co-locating in creative precincts, stimulating local consumption, jobs and enterprise formation.

If a key government decision maker (e.g. a Cabinet Minister) asked you for advice on how to address this challenge, what would you say? Why?

  • Conduct a city scale audit of the impact of COVID-19 on the cultural ecosystem - especially niche manufacturing.
  • Increase support for enterprises affected by COVID-19 at the creative industries-manufacturing alliance.
  • Support the development of creative industries-manufacturing clusters post COVID-19.
  • Incorporate these clusters into existing strategic city planning procedures and relevant policies, prioritising urban sustainable development goals.
  • Review industrial zoning policy across key creative cities in Australia to retain niche manufacturing in the inner cities.
  • Consult and work with creative industries enterprises to re-vision the future of Australian manufacturing.

Additional resources

Gibson, C., Crosby, A., Grodach, C., Lyons, C., O'Connor, J. and Gu, X. (2019) Can our cities’ thriving creative precincts be saved from ‘renewal’?. The Conversation.

Sas, N. (2020) Australia's manufacturing pivot in a post-coronavirus world as COVID-19 creates 'new era' for the economy. The Age.


Policymakers should take this opportunity to learn from the increasing use of online space to fund, promote and enjoy the arts via a new medium.

Professor Cat Hope

What is a key policy challenge facing governments right now (and into the future) that has emerged or been exacerbated by COVID-19?

The arts sector will be changed forever due to the impact of the social distancing necessary to curb the spread of COVID-19. A concentrated online experience of the arts, while not able to replace all forms, will see an accelerated engagement by practitioners and audiences alike, providing an opportunity to devise new arts policy.

Who (or what) is missing from discussion of the policy challenge you have described?

COVID-19 has consolidated how important the arts are to all. A broad consultation with peak arts bodies and digital providers could inform a cultural policy where online delivery could become a focus. Such a policy would contribute to a resilient and innovation-driven national economy, where income for artists could be recast, and art could reach wider audiences.

If a key government decision maker (e.g. a Cabinet Minister) asked you for advice on how to address this challenge, what would you say? Why?

The arts are an essential part of our life. They define us and contribute to our wellbeing. COVID-19 saw the suspension of much arts activity, and we expect to see the dissolution of some established structures. But it will also see the development of new online possibilities, providing an opportunity to redefine the way we engage with the arts in the future. An arts and cultural policy with an underpinning digital vision would consolidate and continue this development. A new era of flourishing arts practice would result, contributing to a thriving innovation economy with a broader international audience, and a recasting of artist’s livelihoods.

Additional resources

Hope, C et al. (2020) Coronavirus: How COVID-19 is changing the world. Monash Lens.

Meyrick, J (2020) As we turn to creativity in isolation, the coronavirus is a calamity on top of an arts crisis. The Conversation.


Frameworks need to be developed for the Australian screen industry, to ensure the diversity of Australian society is celebrated behind, and in front of the camera.

Dr Whitney Monaghan

What is a key policy challenge facing governments right now (and into the future) that has emerged or been exacerbated by COVID-19?

In a globalised and increasingly fragmented media landscape, the viability of the Australian screen industry has been put into question. With COVID-19 impacting production, distribution and exhibition, questions have been raised about how we sustain high quality Australian screen storytelling and how we ensure this is reflective of our diverse culture.

Who (or what) is missing from discussion of the policy challenge you have described?

Current discussion is focused on broadcast content quotas with stakeholders debating the viability of government frameworks for regulatory intervention. By focusing on the numbers alone, the discussion has neglected to consider how we guarantee Australian screen storytelling reflects the richness of our society and culture.

If a key government decision maker (e.g. a Cabinet Minister) asked you for advice on how to address this challenge, what would you say? Why?

The screen industry is vitally important and needs to be supported through the COVID-19 crisis. It contributes more than $3bn to our economy each year and plays a significant social and cultural role, contributing to the way Australian audiences see and know themselves, their families and their communities, and to how our nation is understood, celebrated and promoted throughout the world. To guarantee the Australian screen industry reflects the richness of our nation we must invest in the establishment of frameworks for generating and sustaining inclusive production practices, including ongoing reporting of diversity behind and in front of the camera.

Additional resources

Monaghan, W. (2020) How COVID-19 is impacting Australia’s screen industry and the opportunity it presents. Monash Lens.


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