The Western Australian (WA) Cultural Infrastructure Framework 2030+
The WA Cultural Infrastructure Framework 2030+ (Framework) recognises cultural infrastructure as a critical mechanism in achieving WA’s economic, health, education, environmental, social, and regional priorities and integral to delivering the
objectives of the State Government’s Diversify WA – an economic development framework.
Our cultural infrastructure attracts cultural tourism, is a catalyst for urban renewal, and is a growth stimulator for the creative, knowledge and innovation economies, while providing opportunities to develop new national and international markets
By 2030+ we want WA to be the most culturally engaged state in Australia—with cultural infrastructure that celebrates our rich cultural diversity and creative talent, the State recognised as a major hub for technical innovation and the creative
industries, and WA is known as one of the most artistic and inspiring places in the world.
To achieve this, we must work together to grow the State’s cultural and creative economy and improve access to cultural and creative engagement for all Western Australians.
We can do this by successfully prioritising the following five focus areas:
What is ‘Cultural Infrastructure’?
Cultural infrastructure includes the buildings, places, spaces and technology necessary for arts and cultural education, creation, production, engagement, collaboration, ceremony, preservation, conservation, interpretation, sharing and distribution.
Cultural infrastructure supports and grows WA’s creativity, tangible and intangible culture, and cultural heritage. While tangible culture could be a painting or performance, intangible culture could be a story, songline1,2 or
practised tradition. ‘Intangible cultural heritage’ means the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills … transmitted from generation to generation.3
This Framework highlights the key principles and changes needed to optimise WA’s cultural infrastructure investment and identifies opportunities and challenges to achieving the State Government’s priorities for job growth and economic diversification.
It sets out a roadmap for holistic cultural infrastructure planning to obtain the best value-for-money cultural infrastructure investment in WA and includes case study examples of best practice from across the State, Australia and world-wide.
The focus areas and outcomes developed have been informed by: analysis of stakeholder consultations; global trends, best practice and sustainable development goals; local strategies and planning frameworks; and the State Government’s priorities.
Infrastructure Australia’s Australian Infrastructure Audit 2019— which includes arts, cultural
and other social infrastructure for the first time—has also been valuable to the development of this Framework.
The consultation process included: interviews in the Kimberley, Mid-West, and Perth; workshops in the Pilbara and Perth; four live webinars; an online survey engaging stakeholders across the State; and written submissions. Overall, there were
more than 480 key stakeholder engagements with the Framework development.
Alongside the Framework, the Western Australian (WA) Cultural Infrastructure Investment Guidelines (Investment Guidelines) has been developed. The Investment Guidelines establish principles for investment in cultural infrastructure in WA to realise government priority outcomes and promote strategic alignment. They can be employed as
a tool for robust, evidence-based prioritisation of cultural infrastructure proposals.
An interactive WA Cultural Infrastructure Map has also been developed to identify existing cultural infrastructure across the State and can be used
to investigate future needs to support our growing population and industries.
These Framework documents will provide valuable information to identify the cultural infrastructure needs and priorities to support WA’s growing population and economy and support the development of Infrastructure WA’s first 20-year
State Infrastructure Strategy.
Successful implementation of the Framework can only be achieved through collaboration and partnerships across all tiers of government, the cultural and creative sector, investors, developers, planners, architects and local communities (see Figure
It is critical to the sustainability of the cultural and creative ecosystem in WA to acknowledge that not only are cultural buildings and spaces required, but staff to operate and maintain this infrastructure are vital. Cultural infrastructure, particularly
in outer-metropolitan areas and regional WA where many cultural spaces are run by volunteers, requires investment in ensuring staff have the capacity and resources to deliver professional services and local experiences.
Effective cultural infrastructure connects physical assets, spaces and technology with people, enabling economic, creative, cultural and social opportunities to flourish. It’s time for Western Australia to put creativity and culture
at the heart of future planning, development, and investment, and the wellbeing of communities across the State.
Cultural infrastructure is critical for increasing participation in the arts, culture and creative activity.
Culture has been defined as “the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of society or a social group, and that it encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together,
value systems, traditions and beliefs.” 4
Culture is central to our identity, social cohesion, and the development of a knowledge-based economy. Western Australians engage in cultural activities every day. Our rich and diverse cultures are our foundation and underlying fabric from which
our WA stories are grown.
Cultural diversity is undoubtedly one of the State’s greatest strengths. It has contributed to our economic growth and enriched our society. Western Australians now come from more than 190 countries and speak approximately 240 languages.
Increased participation in arts, culture and creative activity has been found to improve children’s literacy and increase participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Increasing engagement in culture and creativity has also been found to reduce youth reoffending; promote community cohesion and social inclusion; improve the wellbeing of Aboriginal people; attract tourists and retain talent; and grow automation-resistant
jobs in regional cities.5
Efficient and effective planning and resourcing of cultural infrastructure will help develop opportunities for artists, the creative industries, and contribute to the overall diversification of the economy in WA.
The arts, culture and creative industries diversify our economy and improve the liveability of Western Australia. Cultural infrastructure is often not considered essential social infrastructure. The time to change this mindset is now.
Western Australia has some outstanding cultural infrastructure, with a proactive and innovative creative industry sector and local governments who are achieving successes despite these challenges.
We acknowledge the existing investment in cultural infrastructure for WA, but more is required to build a resilient cultural and creative ecosystem that can meet challenges and respond to crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Maintaining the
status quo presents an uncertain future for our existing cultural infrastructure, the operational sustainability of WA’s arts, culture and creative industries, and our ability to expand the creative economy.
The better we are at meeting cultural infrastructure needs, the more room the arts, culture and creative industries have to flourish – which in turn, produces economic benefits and improves the liveability of communities in Western Australia.
This Framework introduces a suite of documents that form the Cultural Infrastructure Toolkit (Toolkit). These documents will be updated periodically, and available on the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries
The Toolkit supporting this Framework includes the following:
More documents will be added over time to ensure the Toolkit is comprehensive and current.
Strategic investment in cultural infrastructure offers considerable opportunities for WA such as:
For more detailed information about these opportunities, refer to the WA Cultural Infrastructure Framework 2030+.
The following outcomes for this Framework build on the opportunities and meet the challenges highlighted during key stakeholder consultation and align directly with the WA Government’s
Diversify WA and other whole-of-government targets.
The successful implementation of the Framework will be recognised by the following outcomes:
These outcomes, and their corresponding challenges and benefits are explored further in Chapter 3 of the WA Cultural Infrastructure Investment Guidelines (Investment Guidelines).
The Investment Guidelines align best practice cultural infrastructure planning principles to investment prioritisation. This enables government to go back to basics and identify the benefits it is trying to achieve with any cultural
The Investment Guidelines also provide guiding principles for non-government led cultural infrastructure proposals, to promote strategic alignment across all cultural infrastructure investment. The outcomes identified here align directly
with the ‘investment outcomes’ prioritised in the Investment Guidelines.
The Framework enables a holistic and synergised approach for all stakeholders, including those from the State and Federal and local governments, the creative and cultural sector, the private sector and the community. Through this collaboration there
will be greater private sector and community investment in cultural infrastructure, increased cross-government partnerships, improved sector and industry capacity building, and more effective coordination of precinct and land use planning.
Five focus areas have been prioritised to meet the outcomes, take advantage of the opportunities, and rise to the challenges identified.
The following sections outline each of these focus areas in detail, summarise the current situation for WA, identify existing challenges, specify opportunities to move forward, and highlight key benefits.
Western Australia is home to exceptionally rich and diverse Aboriginal cultures and identities. The State represents the third highest in diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups across Australia. WA’s Aboriginal creatives
work in all fields of the creative industries, producing contemporary and traditional art and culture experienced by local to international audiences. The Infrastructure Australia 2020 Infrastructure Priority List includes the priority initiative for a national program of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and cultural centres and galleries.
Opportunities to maintain and celebrate WA’s Aboriginal art, culture and heritage include:
Benefits to the effective maintenance and celebration of Aboriginal art, culture and heritage include:
WA’s key cultural infrastructure and precincts are in critical need of upgrade in order to make them the vibrant, dynamic spaces needed to showcase WA’s arts, culture and creativity, and celebrate our connection to the world.
There is the opportunity to optimise WA’s existing cultural buildings and spaces so they are fit-for-purpose for the sector and community by undertaking maintenance, structural and compliance requirements, replacing out-dated
equipment, and sustainability upgrades to reduce operational costs.
Opportunities to optimise WA’s existing cultural assets include:
The Framework presents an opportunity to be more effective and efficient with cultural investment by directing resources to growing, supporting and sustaining our creative and cultural ecosystem through contemporary, fit-for-purpose facilities.
Benefits of optimising WA’s existing cultural assets include:
Only cultural infrastructure that is planned holistically across the State Government and local governments can meet community needs and government objectives. This Framework is about WA recognising cultural infrastructure as critical
social infrastructure and utilising it to maximise social and economic outcomes.
Opportunities to establish holistic cultural infrastructure planning in WA include encouraging:
Infrastructure Australia has established that well-integrated arts and cultural infrastructure can enhance the value of other types of infrastructure, such as public transport or sport and recreation infrastructure.6
Aligning policy opportunities for a whole-of-government approach will aid the delivery of successful cultural infrastructure through regulatory and policy settings that promote industry development, investment attraction,
and facilitate cultural land use.
Master planning of major facilities and cultural precincts, including integrated cultural and sporting precincts, provide exceptional opportunities to promote activation and grow day and night-time economies in
activity centres across towns, suburbs and cities.
Benefits of implementing holistic cultural infrastructure planning across WA include:
Access to suitable finance and investment is one of the key barriers to the successful delivery and activation of cultural infrastructure in WA.
State and local governments and communities are also facing similar maintenance and operational costs that limit capacity building and provision of cultural services. There have been limited opportunities to encourage
investment in WA’s cultural infrastructure from the private sector. Focus Area 4 is about making this change.
Opportunities to promote private investment in partnership with government in cultural infrastructure include:
There are opportunities to work innovatively with the private sector to incorporate cultural infrastructure into private development or explore private development of infrastructure in government owned buildings and
on government owned land. Market-led Proposals, Infrastructure Contributions, Public Private Partnerships, and land release provide further opportunities for private investment.
and sustainability of the art, culture and creative sectors.
The value of arts and culture to society, and how to measure this value, has been the subject of intense debate for many years both in Australia and overseas. Since 2010, through its Public Value Measurement Framework
(PVMF), DLGSC has undertaken a comprehensive process of investigating and measuring the public value it creates through policy and funding programs. The public value incorporates the cultural, social and economic
benefits to the WA community.
Opportunities to better understand and measure the public value of cultural infrastructure include:
The establishment of Infrastructure WA has highlighted the need for a strategic, holistic approach to infrastructure planning, including planning for investment in cultural infrastructure. In Australia, both Infrastructure
New South Wales and Infrastructure Victoria have recommended a cultural infrastructure investment prioritisation framework be employed to deliver the greatest value for money and return on government investment.7, 8
Benefits of optimising the PVMF to measure a broader range of cultural infrastructure impacts include:
The WA Cultural Infrastructure Framework 2030+ and WA Cultural Infrastructure Investment Guidelines will be evaluated regularly to test their effectiveness and revisited annually to ensure they align with government
priorities, Infrastructure WA’s State Infrastructure Strategy and identified community needs.
1 Songlines have been described as “the tracks of the ancestral beings of the … Aboriginal creation law, recounted in song and story.” James, D (2013). Connecting Cultures
and Continents: the Heritage of Routes and Journeys, Signposted by Song: cultural routes of the Australian desert, Historic Environment, 25(3). Retrieved from: https://www.academia.edu/36084910/CONNECTING_CULTURES_AND_CONTINENTS_THE_HERITAGE_OF_ROUTES_AND_JOURNEYS_Signposted_by_Song_cultural_routes_of_the_Australian_desert
2 The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology (2 ed). Provides this definition “a route taken by a dreaming or ancestral being, along which a series of events occurred which are
part of the Australian Aboriginal oral tradition and are marked by a series of sites and associated songs and stories.” Darvill, T. (2009). Concise Dictionary of Archaeology (2 ed). Retrieved from
3 United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). (n.d.). What is Intangible Cultural Heritage? - intangible heritage - Culture Sector - UNESCO. Retrieved July
30, 2018, from
4 United Nations Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights. (2001). Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, Adopted by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization at its thirty-first session on 2 November 2001. Retrieved September 4, 2020, from https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/culturaldiversity.aspx
5 Regional Australia Institute. (2019). The Future of Regional Jobs. p. 35. Retrieved from http://www.regionalaustralia.org.au/home/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/RAI_SIP-2018-2-1_FutureRegionalJobs_Booklet_Print_3.pdf
6 Infrastructure Australia. (2019). An Assessment of Australia’s Future Infrastructure Needs: The Australian Infrastructure Audit 2019, p. 444. Retrieved from https://www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/sites/default/files/2019-08/Australian%20Infrastructure%20Audit%202019.pdf
7 Infrastructure Australia. (2019). An Assessment of Australia’s Future Infrastructure Needs: The Australian Infrastructure Audit 2019, p. 442. Retrieved from https://www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/sites/default/files/2019-08/Australian%20Infrastructure%20Audit%202019.pdf
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