Towards a National Sector Development Initiative - Discussion Paper
Community Arts and Cultural Development
Towards a National Sector Development Initiative
Sector vibrancy and evolution
The Community Partnerships (CP) Committee regularly reviews its decisions and priorities to ensure that resources are effectively allocated to support excellence in community arts and cultural development (CACD). This is achieved through supporting CACD artists, arts organisations and communities to devise, produce and present projects. All supported projects are delivered with, by and for communities and result in long-term sustainable outcomes and high quality arts outputs.
The Committee supports vibrancy and excellence within the CACD sector. Key drivers of the practice require investment to enable necessary regeneration and renewal.
Due to the responsive nature of CACD practice, the sector is constantly evolving through innovative artistic approaches. As society is dynamic and changing, meaningful engagement is integral to the sector and its development.
The Committee has outlined priorities in the Community Arts and Cultural Development Sector Plan. This guides its investment in activities of the CACD sector.
The Committee in 2011 identified that over the past six years the sector has achieved strong and vibrant artistic, community and cross sector partnerships. This is reflected in the breadth and depth of the projects CP have been able to support across the entire suite of its programs. There is greater philanthropic support for CACD projects which have been facilitated to a significant extent by the work of Artsupport Australia.
The Committee considers that the strength and development of the sector lies in the delivery of high quality CACD projects. Production of new work provides individual practitioners greater opportunities to further their careers and incomes. New work uncovers new Australian narratives established through the active participation of individual community members. This impacts on changing notions of excellence and artistic aesthetics, and results in improved community wellbeing and arts and culture become a part of everyday life.
In light of these reflections the Committee regularly reviews options for providing future support and services to further develop and grow the CACD sector.
Since 2006 the Committee has invested over $1million per annum in a network of agencies across most the country. This funding was to provide services aimed at supporting and growing the CACD sector. These services were, in the majority of cases, negotiated and supported in partnership with the State and Territory arts funding agencies. These arrangements were principally negotiated to disseminate information, build and facilitate relationships with communities and the CACD sector.
It should be noted that in addition to the support for service delivery, a number of the organisations have also been funded through other CP grant categories and initiatives to deliver significant CACD projects.
In May 2011 the Committee distributed a Discussion Paper to all the agencies and organisations directly involved in, or supported through, the CP Service Delivery Initiative. We received feedback from all the parties and this was considered by the Committee over two meetings in September and November 2011.
The feedback to the Discussion Paper covered a number of issues. Some were general and others were specific to the particular realities within which organisations operate. Key points drawn out by the Committee from the feedback received are noted below. CP actions/responses are provided in italics:
- While recognising that the CP Committee and the Australia Council have to review their investments and initiatives, it is important to allow time for consultation regarding transition from current arrangements.
- In response the Committee agreed to extend the current arrangements until 31 December 2012 to allow time for transition. This process involves undertaking a national consultation with service delivery partners and the broader CACD sector. This consultation will help define the focus areas of a National Sector Development Initiative. We will be conducting meetings with the sector across the country in early 2012 and will be providing opportunity for online feedback and comment on our deliberations.
- More information has been requested around the evidence and evaluation that lead to the Discussion Paper and the proposed changes to investment levels and priorities.
- In response, the Committee has from the outset stated that the proposed changes are not based on evaluation of specific performance or outcomes of the current arrangement. The Committee is refocussing its priorities, as is Council, on providing direct benefits to CACD artists and practitioners and the production and presentation of work. It is through providing opportunities to communities to be directly engaged in creating and presenting their narratives through artistic expression that community well-being and cultural vibrancy will be further enhanced.
- More detail and clarification is required to explain what is meant by ‘National Sector Development Initiative’.
- The Committee is engaging in the consultation process to define what will be the practical activities which may be supported under a National Sector Development Initiative. The elements which are being considered include:
- increased access to mentorships for individual CACD practitioners
- building cross sector partnership brokerage and management capacity
- knowledge and learning dissemination of best practice in developing artistic and cultural development partnerships with communities
- increased cross-artform collaborations between the CACD sector and other areas of arts practice
- increased national networking and collaboration between CACD practitioners at an individual and organisational level which leads to providing advice and assistance at the professional, project and broader sector levels.
- A number of these areas have been identified in the Community Arts and Cultural Development Sector Plan and also in submissions from the CACD sector to the National Cultural Policy consultation.
- Specific and unique roles of regionally based organisations were highlighted. Regionally based organisations have noted that the services they deliver are integral to enabling communities’ access to the arts.
- The Committee is aware of, and appreciate, the context and conditions in which regionally based service organisations operate. We are also aware of the specific conditions faced by organisations working with other specific communities such as people with a disability, young people, people from linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds and Indigenous communities
- The Committee considers it essential that any programs or activities supported through the National Sector Development Initiative would have to be able to address the issues of specific communities. This is central to ensuring that CACD projects are accessible to practitioners and communities no matter where they live or their life circumstances
- In considering proposals within the National Sector Development Initiative, the Committee will assess the national impact and how these address the diversity of our priority areas.
- Production versus service delivery: although production-based work is acknowledged by organisations as being key in delivering services; some agencies noted that core funding for the delivery of services allows for long term planning and activities to take place in and with communities.
- The Committee acknowledges that it is placing a greater emphasis on production of works with, by and for communities. This refocussing will increase the opportunities for communities to be directly involved and acquire skills and capacities in a direct manner
- The Committee is committed to providing sustained longer term support within its resources. We are aware that to develop projects and initiatives with communities and other partners is complex and can take significant time. This awareness of the complexities of CACD practice is reflected in our six-year funding arrangements in the Key Producer category and our three-year initiative funding through our Creative Communities Partnerships Initiatives. This was also reflected in our initial minimum three-year commitment to supporting service delivery agencies. In all these cases the support is for a specific program of activities and agreed outputs, not for the core running costs of an agency.
- It is assumed that in most cases any activities or programs supported under a National Sector Development Initiative would be over a multi year period.
A new approach
Having considered the feedback and priorities for the future, the Committee determined that the current transitional arrangements for supporting service delivery will cease on 31 December 2012. We have informed all the parties involved in the current arrangements of this decision and that we will now engage them and the broader sector to define the next steps forward. The current budget allocation for service delivery will be reallocated to supporting a National Sector Development Initiative and to increase the support available for the production and presentation of CACD projects and programs.
Following the national discussions the Committee will have the details of the National Sector Development Initiative finalised and will call for proposals by the end of June 2012.
The Committee is conscious of rapidly expanding opportunities and possibilities that have opened up over the last 5 to 10 years with advances in, and increased uptake of, online communication. It is expected that proposals will maximise digital online systems and explore opportunities offered by the trend towards increasing upload and download speeds of the internet.
The Committee expects that proposals will be reflective of, and informed by, the diversity of artistic, community and cross sector partnerships which make up the CACD sector.
The Committee is seeking to canvas the CACD sector’s views on a range of areas, including but not limited to proposals we could support at a national level to:
- Increase collaboration, networking, information and learning exchange focussed on benefitting individual CACD practitioners and producing organisations?
- Increase awareness of the opportunities and benefits of CACD practice for communities in artistic, cultural development and well being contexts?
- Expand and strengthen the cross sector and cross-artform partnerships within the CACD sector?
- Provide assistance to individual practitioners throughout their career stages to continually develop and enhance their sustainability as practising CACD artists (notwithstanding the current grant categories offered by CP)?
We will accept feedback on the ideas for the way forward until Monday 16 April 2012. The Committee will convene a meeting with representatives of the CACD sector as well as broader arts and community representatives on 20 April where the feedback, proposals and directions will be discussed. Following this, the Committee will finalise the National Sector Development Initiative and call for proposals to be supported under the initiative in June 2012. Proposals may commence from late 2012.