Australian Government Bilateral Cultural Agreements

Department of Communications and the Arts
Key objectives of the measure:

The Australian Government enters into bilateral cultural agreements with other nations to:

  • strengthen bilateral cultural cooperation and partnerships
  • promote mutual understanding
  • build diplomatic relationships, institutional and people-to-people links
  • promote cultural exchange and engagement
  • promote mutual national interests
  • promote Australia's reputation of excellence in arts and culture and raise Australia's broader profile internationally, and
  • provide new opportunities and markets for the Australian arts and culture sector.
Scope of the measure:
Nature of the measure:
financial, institutional
Main feature of the measure:

The Australian Government has over 40 bilateral cultural agreements. Since November 2014, Australia has entered into or updated agreements with India, Italy, Belarus, Singapore, China and France. Australia is committed to finalising a new Memorandum of Understanding with Indonesia in the field of the creative economy in 2018.

These agreements recognise culture’s unique role in fostering mutual understanding and building relationships. They facilitate collaborative and reciprocal partnerships across public and private sectors and civil society, strengthen bilateral relationships and promote long-term sustained engagement between nations.

These agreements also recognise the important social and economic role of the arts, culture and creative industries for all nations and the benefits of international engagement and exchange in enabling new employment, market development, professional skills and partnership opportunities, and cultural diversity.

Underpinned by our bilateral relationships, international cooperation initiatives undertaken in recent years include:

  • The Australia Singapore Arts Group was established in 2016 by the Australian and Singapore Governments to provide strategic advice over a period of five years to build on the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Field of Arts and Culture between Australia and Singapore (2015).
  • The Australia-China Cultural Co-operation Agreement (1981) Fourteenth Implementation Program for Cultural Exchanges between China and Australia (2016-2019) establishes a framework to encourage exchanges across all art forms, such as the Australia-China Cultural Dialogue held in Australia in 2016 with representatives from key Australian and Chinese government and cultural institutions.
  • Australia-India Cultural Co-operation, formalised through the 1971 Cultural Agreement and the 2014 Memorandum of Understanding, supports initiatives such as the Confluence: Festival of India in Australia and Australia Fest in India to showcase a diverse program of arts and culture every two years to Australian and Indian audiences.
Results expected through the implementation of the measure:
  • Cultural exchange and partnerships
  • Enhanced international relations and cultural diplomacy
  • Protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions.
Financial resources allocated to implement the measure:

In addition to funded measures administered by other Australian Government agencies that contribute to the fulfilment of these agreements, the Department of Communications and the Arts has provided over A$12.6 million in funding for international arts and culture activities, including A$2.9 million since 2015-16 through the International Cultural Diplomacy Arts Fund that supports the implementation of bilateral cultural agreements.

Indicators used to determine impact:
Bilateral Agreements are periodically reviewed and updated subject to the mutual interests of both countries. The mechanism for review may vary in accordance with each Agreement.Indicators vary in accordance with the frameworks set out under each Agreement.