Want to feel even more embarrassed about the Australian Government’s approach to culture? Go to Norway.

jIn 2016 as part of its National Budget, the Norwegian government devoted a total 13.5 billion Norwegian Kroner to arts and culture for the following year, 465 million larger than the budget the year prior. To put that into perspective, Norway, a country with a population just over the same size of Sydney, invested AU$2.8 billion into the arts.

Naysayers and political spinners will offer the argument: ‘But they have all that oil money’. For them, I offer this question: Do you think the Australian Government would, like Norway, invest around 1% of its total national budget into the arts each year?

If you consider the Aus Government’s predicted spending of A$473.7 billion in the 2017-18 financial year, and the A$23.5 million it gives to the Australia Council of the Arts each year, then you have your answer, it’s a drop in the ocean compared to Norway’s investment.

The sobering fact is, despite being a renowned ‘rich’ country, its funded initiatives, like non-profit development project Talent Norway, Norway’s ‘Sounds Australia equivalent’ Music Norway, and its gift reinforcement programme for private donations and grants, have all contributed to economic growth.

Norway’s political leaders follow the money closer than Bob Woodward to monitor the return on investment, and they’re smiling at the numbers. According to the country’s most recent projection statistics (March 2018), economic activity in Norway is on a rising path, and unemployment rates continue to fall below 4%.