Australian Arts Party Made Pozible
12 May 2016 at 10:18 am
In an Australian first, a political party dedicated to arts and culture has successfully crowdfunded to run in the federal election, and the party leader said advocating for arts-based Not for Profits was at the “absolute centre of our purpose”.
The Arts Party ran a crowdfunding campaign on Pozible, which ended Wednesday, with the aim of securing $35,000. The final amount raised was almost $43,000 from 411 supporters.
Registered officer and leader PJ Collins said the Arts Party’s mission was to take a stand for the arts, cultural life and creative industries of Australia.
He said forming a political party to support the sector was a “completely new approach to essentially advocating for the arts and our creative industries”.
“No one’s really done it like that before, and it’s high time because it’s a pretty desperate scenario right now in terms of support for community… organisations across the country – a lot of Not for Profit groups essentially, that’s who we stand for,” Collins said.
“And then of course it’s the creative industries, which are essentially creative and artistic thinking, applied into making money and starting businesses, which is the future of this country.
“In America or the UK it’s 20-plus per cent of GDP coming from those businesses, and in this country it’s less than 10 per cent, and it’s got nothing to do with our talent, we’ve got plenty of talent in this country in every form.
“There’s no opportunity or very shrinking opportunity for Australians to explore their talents and very poor support and investment even when they go forward and actually do something that’s unique and special.”
The Arts Party wants to triple the budget distributed through grants to artists, and small and medium-sized organisations in Australia, equating to $124 million in additional annual funding.
They are also requesting a reversal of all funding cuts and a 5 per cent increase to national cultural institutions, including the National Library and National Gallery.
Collins said the party was aiming to gain one million votes in the election to put forward its policy ideas.
“Fundamentally we are never going to form government and run this country, what we can do is make sure we’ve got as many great ideas on the table, policy ideas, in front of all the other parties and say look at these and please adopt some of them,” he said.
“That would be such an amazing statement and act of acknowledgement of how important the arts and cultural sectors, and particularly that community and the Not for Profit areas, are.
“All the parties would have to improve their offering, all the parties would have to respond to that.
“They couldn’t ignore a result like that. It wouldn’t really matter who wins and who forms government, we all win because they all have to improve their offerings.”
Collins also ran a crowdfunding campaign two years ago to form the party and gain the minimum membership of 500 people on the electoral role. In the three-week campaign the Arts Party secured 640 members, and this number has more than tripled since.
“It went from an idea to something real… and then this campaign is specifically about being able to pay for the candidates and be able to run the campaign across the country at this election,” Collins said.
“It means that we now know we have enough money to stand the candidates and to do some marketing.
“In the end the amount we raised is the amount the major parties would spend on just one candidate, or it would be in some cases a fraction of that, so it’s still an incredibly shoestring barebones campaign, but it is a campaign, we can do this now.”
The party has announced 10 candidates running in the election so far. Collins said the party would have two upper-house candidates in every state to gain the above the line voting option. There will also be a handful of candidates running in lower house seats across Australia.
Collins said, as a grassroots movement with no big backers, money had been a constant problem.
“The average donation is [around] $100, but the point is there’s enough people who believe in us and believe in what we stand for and are willing to put their hands in their pocket that we can actually do this. It’s very exciting,” he said.
“The biggest stress has been getting to this point, because at this point now it’s about what can we do, how best can we go forward from here – because we know we’re going forward.
“Crowdfunding is not for the faint hearted, but surely there’s no better way of proving popular support for what you want to do than to do it through crowdfunding, and we have done it twice now.
“We’re the only party that’s ever been crowdfunded into existence in Australia, we’re the only small party with a paid membership of over 2,000 people, we’re the only arts party in the world – there’s no other party set up for arts, culture and creativity.
“And we’re the only party who’s literally crowdfunded for this election campaign in Australia. There’s an awful lot of unique angles to us, but it all comes down to just grassroots popular support for what we stand for.”