The number of animals killed or physically ‘challenged’ in Australian research has continued its merciless rise.
Click to view data
In 2009, 1.46 million animals were subjected to either death or physical challenge through research procedures in Australia – this equates to nearly a third of all animals used in Australian research.
When 2009 figures are compared to 2005, the number of animals made ‘unconscious without recovery’ has doubled; the number experiencing ‘major physiological challenge’ has more than quadrupled.
Australian research seems to be on an unrelenting, merciless march toward greater animal cruelty.
The table below shows the number of animals used in Australian research and teaching by severity of procedure, and the percent increase from 2005.
The data come from Humane Research Australia (HRA), gathered from a variety of sources. HRA points out that there are serious gaps in the data, not least because data are not available for Queensland, Western Australia or the Northern Territory, and data from the ACT do not provide a breakdown by type of procedure.
Another interesting trend is a rise in the production of genetically modified animals. From 2005 to 2007, the number of genetically modified animals produced under Australian research ranged between 4 and 5 thousand animals. In 2008 this number rose dramatically to over 40,000 animals. And in 2009 it rose even more dramatically – more than doubling to over 100,000 animals. It is difficult to determine the level degree of cruelty or suffering experienced by these animals, but the sharp rise will add to the fears for those concerned for the welfare of animals.
Through 2010 and 2011 I wrote a number of essays for ArtsHub and Culture360 on cultural policy issues in Australia and New Zealand. I have put these essays, plus a couple of others, together in one collection and organised them around four broad themes:
Australasian cultural policies (ie in general);
Analyses of the cultural sector and cultural policy issues;
Arts councils, arts funding; and
The cultural policy system.
Putting them together like this gives them a coherence lacking in their chronologically ordered online counterparts. If you do download the full document I hope you find them interesting and useful. Online versions of all the essays appear on this website.
The article, published in Culture360 Magazine, uses data from Australia and New Zealand to compare trends in government cultural expenditure and cultural employment. The data reveal a remarkably strong correlation between cultural expenditure and employment in both countries: on both sides of the Tasman, as governments increased their financial commitment to culture, cultural employment grew.
The data are not only consistent with the predictions of Economic theory, they allude to a degree of cultural policy success in both countries.
In recent years New Zealand’s employment in creative cultural occupations has grown faster than total employment. This is in stark contrast with Australia, where creative arts occupations have taken a dramatic plunge.
Could the difference simply be due to a ‘lag’ in New Zealand data, or does it signal something more substantial? Have New Zealand’s cultural policies been more successful in promoting cultural sector sustainability? Or has New Zealand benefited from its special citizen-in-residence, film-maker Peter Jackson?
If the strong growth in cultural employment is due to the ‘Jackson effect’, then New Zealand cultural policymakers face an unusual succession planning problem: what to do when Jackson’s run ends.
Policies that encourage arts demand can return balance to an oversupplied Australian arts sector and fix many of the ills of Australian cultural policy.
Policies for boosting arts demand, the second of my articles for Culture360, expands on my ideas for rebalancing an Australian arts sector that is showing the classic signs of oversupply.
As evidence of oversupply, I present data showing increasing levels of creative arts practice and declining relative incomes of professional artists. The policies that dominate Australia’s cultural policy system tend to work to boost supply, so they are likely to aggravate problems associated with oversupply, such as declining relative incomes. Policies aimed at boosting arts demand – ‘demand-side policies’ – can work to alleviate the problems. Continue reading →
Constantly in flux, passing between portfolios and ministers, and rarely featuring high on government agendas, cultural policy in Australia has been a constant battle against disorganisation and disinterest. But all that could change if the current government follows through on its commitment to develop a national cultural policy. We may be at a rare turning point in Australian cultural policy – a point as critical as the birth of cultural policy in 1908, the establishment of the Australia Council in 1975, and the release of Creative Nation in 1994.
In Policies for boosting arts demand I build on my argument that Australian cultural policy needs more demand-side policies. The case is based on the observation of recent data on the Australian cultural sector and some simple economic supply and demand modelling. This post supplements these articles by explaining the modelling process and reasoning that underpin them. This is a rough draft – I welcome comments or suggestions.
Recent data suggests that the Australian arts sector is grossly ‘oversupplied’. In the first decade of the century, Australian participation in creative arts work increased dramatically – in some arts activities it more than doubled or tripled! At the same time, artists’ relative incomes have declined. The Census, for example, shows that the full time incomes of artists dropped by $4,000 relative to other professionals. The figure below puts the two trends together to illustrate how dramatic the inverse relationship has been between involvement in creative arts practice and artists’ incomes.
These are classic signs of a sector straining under the weight of labour supply: increases in labour supply tend to reduce wage rates, which is likely to be reflected in declining incomes. Australia’s cultural policies predominantly work on stimulating supply, and so are likely to have made matters worse. Continue reading →
The amphibian extinction crisis is the greatest species conservation challenge in the history of humanity. Save the Frogs day is on 29 April. To mark this important day I have written up a short piece on my animal rights blog, Animal Rights Hub Australasia: Save the frogs day 2011.
Government arts funders could harness the power of crowdfunding to get more bang for their buck.
Crowdfunding is on the rise as a way of supporting community projects. Made possible by web-based technologies, it works like this: people who think they have a good idea for a project post a proposal on a dedicated website. Information is provided on the project’s aims and objectives, how it will work, and its budget. Anyone can pledge money to the project via the website. Projects that raise enough financial support proceed.
Crowdfunding is a democratic funding system that relies on the ‘wisdom of crowds’. One dollar equals one vote. Because a voter makes a financial commitment, reckless voting and conflicts of interest are kept in check. Additional checks are usually put in place to guard against bogus operators looking to run off with voters’ funds.
Probably the most well-known crowdfunding scheme is the USA’s Kickstarter. The model has been applied to the arts at United States Artists and at We did this in the UK. And in Australia, ‘four energetic, tech-savvy, eccentric team members’ in Sydney’ have launched Pozilbe, ‘Australia’s 1st crowdfunding platform developed for creative individuals, groups and organisations’.
Crowdfunding sites exist in a highly democratised, technology-savvy space away from the tentacles of government. They work in a way that most government funding doesn’t. They lack the centralised control of government funding programs. They rely on modern technology. They are democratic, open and transparent.
Crowdfunding seems anathema to bureaucracy, and this might well be part of its appeal.
Yet, despite all these differences, crowdfunding has similarities with at least one form of government arts funding – peer review. Continue reading →
In 2010 I coordinated a special Australasian edition of Cultural Trends, the academic journal that ‘champions the need for better evidence-based analyses of the cultural sector.’
The special edition, which is in two parts, aims to expose to an international audience a selection of issues occupying cultural policy researchers and statisticians in Australia and New Zealand.
As well as coordinating the special edition, I drafted two editorials (pre-print drafts available below) in which I try to crystallise the state of cultural statistics and cultural policies in Australasia Continue reading →
Australasian cultural policies would benefit from academics and researchers having more opportunities to publish, share their ideas and engage in cultural policy debate.
While writing an editorial for a special Australasian edition of the journal Cultural Trends (the second volume of which is due out soon), I had the chance to review the history of cultural policy in Australia and New Zealand. Looking back, I was struck by how much academic writing, research and debate took place in the ‘90s, when Australasia was enjoying what has been called a cultural policy ‘moment’.
Imagine if the number of Australians playing sport doubled in five years. Would the Sports Minister go out to the media crowing about the success of sports policy? Most likely. What if research showed participation in a football code – say, Aussie rules – tripled over four years? Would the AFL shout this from the rooftops, exalting a new wave of popularity for Aussie rules? You bet. Why, then, when trends of this magnitude occurred in the arts, hardly a word was said?
Cross-country comparisons are popular in cultural policy. This paper looks at how cultural statistics are used in the making of such comparisons. Analysts have identiﬁed a general ‘sloppiness’ in comparisons of cultural data between countries. This article documents some of the major problems in both data production and data presentation and provides a ‘checklist’ of good practice.