Arts Minister Tony Burke calls for a “safe workplace for women” in new cultural policy

The MP is currently drafting a national arts and culture policy

Tony Burke, the Minister For The Arts in Australia, has promised to address ongoing claims of sexual harassment and assault within the country’s arts and culture industries.

Speaking to The Guardian on Friday (July 1), Burke said he’d commenced a week-long consultation period concerning the Government’s national arts and culture policy. Within it, he hopes to tackle the systemic issues that have largely faced women in the arts.

“I want to make sure that national cultural policy speaks to the particular challenges in arts industries and within this policy there needs to be assurances of a safe workplace for women,” Burke said. The Minister went on to note several instances in recent years relating to the issue – among them being Jaguar Jonze speaking out against abusive producers and photographers, and the firing of Sony Music CEO Denis Handlin.

Burke made his intentions to support the Australian arts industry clear last month, following Labor’s win in the federal election. He noted in his first official statement as Minister that “the neglect, the contempt and the sabotage” that the previous government showed to the industry “had ended”.

“[I am] determined to deliver a better future for Australia’s creative sector,” he said at the time.

Other inclusions for Burke’s policy – which is set to be fully drafted by year’s end – will include a focus on First Nations art and artists, as well as a crackdown on illegitimate ticket resale sites such as Viagogo. Burke noted to The Guardian that he has “neither time nor respect” for businesses such as the latter.

“I want to look at what we can do to make sure that the ticket price that is advertised becomes the ticket price that is paid,” he said.

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