Artists are at the heart of Australia’s cultural life. Through their creative expressions they enrich, entertain, empower and enlighten. They tell our stories, reflect our humanity and challenge us to experience different perspectives. More than three in four Australians agree that artists make an important contribution to Australian society and are proud when Australian artists do well overseas.
Annual Report 2016-17
The 2016-17 Australia Council for the Arts Annual Report was tabled on 23 October 2017. The report outlines key achievements and outcomes during the second full year of activity under its Strategic Plan A Culturally Ambitious Nation.
From the Chair:
2016-17 has been the culmination of Council’s transformation in the way it delivers support to the arts, secures new arts investment and develops the evidence base for the arts.
The dynamism of our arts sector is evidenced by the more than 6,500 new Australian works supported by Council this year and appreciated by the 16.4 million audience members who experienced the work of artists and organisations we funded.
Rupert Myer AO
Australia Council for the Arts
From the CEO:
The goals of our strategic plan continue to guide our work, and over the past year many great results have been realised for our national arts sector and its audiences. I am delighted that we were able to directly support 765 individual artists and 631 organisations across the country, with countless more benefitting indirectly from an investment of more than $177 million in the arts through the Council.
The Council continued to implement an enhanced program of strategic activity across international, capacity building, advocacy, research and co-investment during 2016-17.
This year the Council delivered 48 strategic international development initiatives through an investment of $2.2 million. More Australian art is being seen and presented through initiatives and programs that strengthened ties with more countries than ever before. This activity includes Council led market delegations across emerging and established arts markets to fast-track profile and capability, and high impact professional development opportunities through our residencies program.
The Council has a unique national role in building knowledge about Australian arts and leveraging that evidence to advocate for the importance of the arts in our individual lives and its ability to strengthen our communities. Our enhanced research program launched this year, made publicly available through the new Arts Nation online platform. Key research and data released this year included Showcasing Creativity, the Local Arts Engagement dashboard, Reading the Reader and Connecting Australians: Results of the National Arts Participation Survey.
Developing co-investment opportunities which provide additional support to Australian arts is a priority for Council. 2016-17 successes include delivering the first round of the Marten Bequest scholarships, introducing a second Red Ochre Award supported in partnership with the Sydney Opera House, and The Mordant Family Fellowship. The Council also announced a new partnership with the Macquarie Group to deliver a First Nations Emerging Curator Award. I am delighted that these programs, including the Australia Council Workplace Giving Program, will contribute over $775,000 to Australian arts, in addition to the $2 million raised through the highly successful 2017 Venice Biennale project.
The Council remains committed to First Nations art and artists as a priority and 2016-17 saw more than $13.1 million invested in First Nations artists and communities through the Council. Highlights include support for First Nations led organisations which doubled through the Four Year Funding program and 1,620 new works by First Nations artists and organisations supported. First Nations arts remained a focus in our research and co-investment activities, with high impact strategic programs delivered this year including Chosen, Signature Works, international curators programs and the annual National Indigenous Arts Awards.
Chief Executive Officer
Australia Council for the Arts
Read the full report in PDF (3.4MB). Please note that this PDF is also accessible.
First Nations arts are contemporary expressions of rich knowledge systems and unbroken storytelling stretching back for millennia. They are a source of strength, resilience and pride for First Nations peoples and are central to Australia’s narrative and identity. The vast majority of Australians agree that First Nations arts are an important part of Australia’s culture, and more Australians than ever are attending First Nations arts across art forms.
The Council provides a wide range of support for Australian artists and arts organisations to work internationally through our grant programs, strategic initiatives and through the Major Performing Arts Framework.
Through research and evaluation the Australia Council builds essential knowledge about Australian arts. Our evidence base informs decision making, strategic planning and policy; leverages new investment opportunities; and supports the sector with insights on arts practice, audiences and markets. The Council has a legislative mandate to conduct and commission research about the arts, and to evaluate the impact of the Council’s support. The Council’s national leadership role in research and evaluation is a critical foundation of our advocacy.
The Council is committed to growing the public, private and philanthropic funds available to support the arts. Our Co-Investment Strategy builds on the Council’s experience partnering with philanthropic foundations, corporations and individual donors to develop innovative approaches to investing in the arts. Previous successes include the Venice Biennale Pavilion project and Keir Choreographic Award partnership which is in its third year. In 2016-17 we continued to realise remarkable new creative experiences and support the talents of extraordinary Australian artists.
Bringing a national perspective to the management of funding for arts organisations, the Australia Council supports a diverse range of organisations who create, produce, present and promote the arts across all areas of practice. Council has a unique leadership role which includes direct and indirect engagement. Charged with the role of champion and investor, the Council promotes artistic vibrancy, innovation and sustainability. This is delivered through project and Multi Year funding for organisations of all sizes, government initiatives and frameworks, national and international strategic development, and capacity building programs.
The stories of Australia’s regional and remote communities are integral to the fabric of a culturally ambitious nation, and the artistic excellence among regional artists is critical to a vibrant arts sector that reflects Australia’s depth and diversity. Creativity is strong in the regions, with residents of regional Australia as likely to creatively participate in the arts as residents of metropolitan Australia, and more likely to create visual arts and craft. Council research also shows that living in a regional area does not substantially affect arts attendance, with around seven in ten people attending the arts in regional Australia (69%) compared to metropolitan Australia (73%).
The Council contributes to the long term resilience and sustainability of the Australian arts community by delivering a high performing suite of capacity building programs. More than 360 arts leaders benefited from these programs in 2016–17.
Following the most significant period of reform in our history, the Australia Council has embraced its enhanced national leadership role in advocating for Australian arts. Our advocacy is implicit in the functions defined in the Australia Council Act 2013 and is reflected in the goals of our Strategic and Corporate Plans.