National Local Government Cultural Forum

Welcome to the webpage of the Secretariat for the National Local Government Cultural Forum. This site provides background to the Cultural Forum and reports from each of the meetings and the final report produced at the end of this initiative.

The National Local Government Cultural Forum seeks to promote stronger cultural development practice in local government across Australia, by articulating and developing a national perspective.

The Cultural Forum brings together representatives from local government: the seven state and territory local government associations represented by staff of the policy units; the eight Australian capital cities who offer practical application and leadership, plus the national peak body for local government, Australian Local Government Association (ALGA).  The other members are major national stakeholders, the Australia Council for the Arts and the Commonwealth Department of Communications and the Arts. The Forum is managed by the Cultural Development Network (CDN) in cooperation with the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA), and chaired by Penny Hutchinson, former Director of the state arts agency Creative Victoria.

The group meets twice yearly to set objectives, and between meetings CDN works to address the objectives, supported by members of the working groups.

The Cultural Forum commenced in 2013 for a three year term, with meetings held in Canberra and Perth. In 2014, meetings were hosted in Brisbane and Darwin, in 2015, in Hobart and Adelaide. In 2015, the Forum received funding from the Australia Council for the Arts for a further three year program, and meetings have been held twice annually in Melbourne during the period 2016-2019.

A key objective of the Cultural Forum is to identify and collect a set of headline data that tells the story of local government’s contribution to cultural life in Australia. Over 2015-2017 the eight capital cities worked together to develop and trial a set of key inputs (resources applied) and outputs (activities and commitments) that could be collected and used to define this scope, based on council-led cultural development activities across arts, libraries and heritage. They ran two years of collection and refinement of the dataset and in May 2017 brought the dataset back to the Cultural Forum for endorsement to go forward and trial with an additional set of councils across Australia.

The project will now engage a statically valid sample of 62 councils across all jurisdictions in Australia to partake in the data collection. Local Government Associations and Capital Cities in each jurisdiction will work with the Cultural Development Network to support sample councils to participate in this trial.

The dataset currently consists of 45 items made up of:

Inputs: infrastructure (cultural capital assets – buildings and collections); & financial resources (cost of buildings leasing and overall cultural budget);

Outputs: additions to collections; contracts and grants to artists and arts organisations; number of presentational and development activities and participation numbers.

At the completion of this stage of the trial we will have the first view of what a national set of headline input and output data would look like. Pending progress of Stage 3 and adjustment of the data schema, Stage 4 will commence that will see the data collection process open to all Australian councils.

The second major initiative of the Cultural Forum is the development of an outcomes framework to enable measurement of outcomes of cultural engagement. This outcomes framework includes a set of measurable cultural outcomes, as well as outcomes across the social, civic, environmental and economic domains. You can learn more about this schema by visiting the outcomes page of our website. The research undertaken by this group is being compiled and tested and will form the content of an online project builder and recorder currently being developed. Read more about the online tool being developed here

The Forum came to a close at the end of 2018. Information regarding the initiative and its achievements can be found in the NLGCF Final Report 2013-2018 .

Cultural Development Network and the National Local Government Cultural Forum
are supported by the Australia Council, the Australian Government’s arts funding and advisory body.