Cultural Engagement Framework
Since the creation of the Australia Council in 1968, Council has developed polices, strategies and programs which aim to ensure that opportunities to enjoy and participate in the arts were not constrained by an individual’s background or life circumstances. Council is committed to ensuring that the wealth of artistic and cultural skills, experience and resources resulting from Australia’s diversity are given the opportunity to develop, flourish and contribute to a distinctly Australian style of artistic excellence and innovation. Over the years since, Council has introduced a range of policies and strategies focusing on specific demographic and other identity markers.
Several years ago we reflected on how these diverse strategies, policies and initiatives were relevant and effective in a 21st century context. We asked ourselves how to make sense of such a wide range of policies, including one for people from diverse cultural backgrounds, one for people with a disability, one for people living in regional areas. We asked what strategies we should have to deal with the multiplicity of identities across our nation.
As a result, in 2007, Council announced our Cultural Engagement Framework (CEF). The CEF provides a framework for the range of policies, strategies and programs aimed at ensuring equity of access to our grants and initiatives and, at the same time, are deeply grounded in the twin mandates of the Australia Council which are to:
- Provide all Australians with the opportunity to enjoy and participate in the arts; and
- Support artistic excellence.
We are confident that Council’s CEF will lead to greater artistic vibrancy and innovation as it will facilitate and stimulate diverse cultural and artistic experiences, practices and traditions to intersect and interact. It will also ensure that participation in, and enjoyment of, the arts will not be determined by someone’s personal circumstances.
Guiding principles of the CEF
- Diversity: respecting and interacting with cultural diversity makes the arts more relevant, dynamic, innovative and reflective of Australia today.
- Dialogue: providing access to cultural resources strengthens the public voice.
- Artistic Excellence: drawing on our diversity of perspectives and practice will continue to lead to artistic work of the highest skill and quality.
- Inclusiveness: exploring each other’s cultures through making art encourages mutual respect and social harmony.
- Belonging: creating distinctive places through arts and cultural activities generates a sense of identity and shared ownership.
- Community building: engaging with art builds and strengthens communities.
- Identity: making art and engaging in cultural activities with diverse groups and communities produces art that is relevant to people’s lives.
The CEF encompasses a number of specific demographic communities and we have put in place a range of specific strategies, initiatives and partnerships relevant to each of the areas. They are:
- Indigenous Australians
- People with a disability
- Multicultural Australia
- Young people
- Regional and marginalised communities
Commitment to delivery
In December 2010 The Australia Council reconfirmed an ongoing commitment to achieving outcomes for all Australians. To achieve this, it agreed that responsibility for delivering on our Cultural Engagement Framework is now shared across all sections of the organization and is to be championed and led by my Executive Team and myself. I am also committed to calling upon the expertise of people within the sector, and we will from time to time undertake external consultation to both measure our performance, as well as assist us in updating our CEF strategies and action plans. We will provide updates on achievements and performance through a range of sources such as our website and annual report.
I am confident that our Cultural Engagement Framework will assist us all to support a vibrant, innovative and excellent arts sector with a continually evolving distinctive contemporary Australian voice.