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Change for change's sake: are tax reforms required to assist the Australian arts sector?

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The arts sector can be plagued by characteristics that make its sustainability difficult, and it would appear that those in the arts sector consider that Australia's tax system has an important role to play in contributing to a sustainable arts sector. For example, within the 2020 Summit, at least 19 recommendations by the committee on “Towards a creative Australia” related to proposed tax changes (Australia, 2008). However, there are already a number of tax provisions that assist the art sector (either directly or indirectly) - is it that the current concessions are ineffective, not well understood or something else? This article reports on the survey results of 236 people involved in the arts sector (either as artists, arts organizations, advisors or supporters). This article reports the findings of the survey in terms of bettering understanding how taxpayers, particularly those involved in the arts sector, accessed tax information, their tax awareness of current tax provisions that directly/indirectly affect the arts. Furthermore, it explores what those involved in the sector consider to be their greatest tax issues. Given the survey results, it will be argued that to ensure that any reforms for this sector to be effective there needs to be greater considerations to the way that artists access tax information, and their level of competency in dealing with tax obligations, and how practical strategies can be implemented within the current framework to assist the arts. It will be argued that this background understanding is critical in determining what tax reforms, if any, are needed to ensure that reforms are not done just for change's sake.
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Keywords: artist/art policy; attitude; awareness; cultural policy; reform; tax

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Griffith Business School, Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Publication date: 2011-03-01

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