The Ministry for the Arts was established on 15 June 1988 as a fully autonomous Ministry. (1) The Ministry replaced the Office of the Minister for the Arts as the entity responsible for arts funding and policy.
The Ministry’s functions were to:
1) advise the Government on all aspects of the arts and cultural activity in the state;
2) to monitor and co-ordinate the activities of the State’s cultural institutions, to oversee their budgets and capital works programs, and to advise the Minister on policy matters affecting the institutions, including appointments to their trusts;
3) to support, foster and encourage the arts in New South Wales through independent arts organisations;
4) to support the film industry in New South Wales through promotion, script and project development schemes and other assistance administered by the Film and Television Office within the Ministry;
5) to manage all Government-sponsored arts or cultural events, and various scholarships and awards. (3)
The Ministry was responsible for the administration of grant programs to arts organisations. Grant applications were assessed by the Arts Advisory Council, which replaced the former Cultural Grants Advisory Council. (4) The Ministry also administered a number of annual awards and scholarships including: the Premier’s Literary Awards, the New South Wales Travelling Arts Scholarship, and scholarships for professionals in the performing arts, art conservators, and writers. (5)
A new Office of Film and Television was established on 1 July 1988 to replace the New South Wales Film Corporation. (6)
When the Ministry for the Arts was established in 1988, the five sections of the Ministry were: Legal, Corporate Services, Finance, Policy / Projects, and Audit.(7) This structure was only slightly altered in the early 1990s with the replacement of the Policy / Projects and Audit sections with the Arts Development section and the Policy and Planning section respectively. Among the responsibilities for the Policy and Planning section was the management of policy and projects for cultural institutions.
In July 1995 the Ministry for the Arts was restructured with three branches. The Ministry’s corporate services were transferred to a centralised unit within Governor Macquarie Tower and the Program Information and Coordination branch was responsible for coordinating the smooth flow of corporate services from this central provider to Ministry staff and for the delivery of information on programs and services to customers and other organisations. (8) The branch also provided advice to the Ministry’s Secretary and cultural institutions on a range of policy, procedural and compliance issues.
In the 1996-97 financial year, the Industry Support and Projects branch was renamed the Major Infrastructure Development branch. (9) On 1 July 2000, the Ministry changed the titles of its branches and senior management. The Policy and Programs branch was retitled Arts Development, the Major Infrastructure and Development branch became the Infrastructure Development branch, and the Program Information and Coordination branch was retitled Policy and Program Support. (10)
In the 2001-2002 financial year, the Arts Development division and the Policy and Program Support division were restructured with some functions moving between the two divisions. Responsibility for grants processing and grants database administration was transferred from the Policy and Program Support division (renamed Portfolio Services) to the Arts Development division. (11)
In 2002 the Ministry administered the following major legislation: Art Gallery of New South Wales Act 1980, Australian Museum Trust Act 1975, Copyright Act 1879, Film and Television Office Act 1988, Historic Houses Act 1980, Library Act 1939, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences Act 1945, State Records Act 1998, Sydney Opera House Trust Act 1961. (12)
By 2002, the Ministry for the Arts continued to advise the Government on all aspects of arts and cultural activity throughout New South Wales. The Ministry managed Government arts projects and capital expenditure, monitored and provided policy advice on the State’s cultural institutions, and also continued to manage a Cultural Grants Program supporting a range of arts and cultural activities across the State. (13)
Mr Evan Williams was the Secretary of the Ministry for the Arts from its commencement until his retirement on 31 January 2001. (14)
In February 2001 the office of Secretary to the Ministry for the Arts was replaced by the position of Director-General of the Ministry for the Arts. The first Director-General was Mr Roger Wilkins who was simultaneously the Director-General of the Cabinet Office. The dual role of the Director-General did not affect the independence of the Ministry for the Arts. However, it was hoped that the strong association with the Cabinet Office would place the Ministry in a stronger position when dealing with other agencies. A Deputy Director-General assisted the Director-General, and the office of Deputy Secretary of the Ministry became the Assistant Director-General. (15)
The Ministry for the Arts was abolished on 3 March 2006 under the Public Sector Employment and Management (General) Order 2006. All its branches were removed and added to the Department of the Arts, Sport and Recreation. (16)
1. NSW Government Gazette No.101, 15 June 1988, p3168; Ministry for the Arts Annual Report 1987-88, p.15.
2. Ministry for the Arts Annual Report 1987-88, p.15.
3. ibid, p.16.
4. ibid., p.15.
5. loc. cit.
6. Ministry for the Arts Annual Report 1987-88, p.15.
7. ibid., pp.90-91.
8. Ministry for the Arts Annual Report 1996, p.58.
9. Ministry for the Arts Annual Report 1997, p.6.
10. Ministry for the Arts Annual Report 2000, p.6.
11. Ministry for the Arts Annual Report 2000, p6 and Ministry for the Arts Annual Report 2002, p.5.
12. Ministry for the Arts Annual Report 2002, p.52.
13. ibid., p.4.
14. e-mail from Director State Records 15 January, 2001.
15. loc. cit.
16. NSW Government Gazette No. 30, 3 March 2006, p.1053.