Community Arts and Cultural Development peers

Mouna Zaylah

Mouna Zaylah, NSW – Community Arts and Cultural Development Peer

If you were to encourage a colleague to become a Peer – what would you tell them…

About the time commitment required?

Be prepared to read a lot of applications. Space it out, don’t try to read too many in one go – it’s tiring and not fair to the applicant. Give each application 10 to 15 minutes each. Regularly review the criteria and scoring guide. It helps. Check out the support material – it adds another dimension.

What you may have learnt about your sector?

I learnt so much about the sector by participating on panels and being a peer. It really helped me learn more about the bigger picture – nationally what’s going on and who is doing what in CACD.

It is also a great networking opportunity – meeting with all the other peers and getting to know them and their work. It has helped me to identify the gaps and start thinking of ways that we can work together to address them and provide more opportunities and resources for community arts and cultural development based practitioners and services across our country.

Does everyone agree in the assessment meetings? What should you be prepared to do?  

Ultimately we all agree on the final decision. It’s surprising how that comes about but it is a great process. The facilitator of the panel gives all peers an opportunity to share their opinion and insight and discuss concerns about an application. Be prepared to speak up about your concerns. Be prepared to speak up about projects you truly believe are fantastic and will have great impact. Each of the peers bring something unique to the conversation and all are ready to listen and respond respectfully.  It’s not accidental that you are selected to be a peer on the panel. You are there because you have been selected for your knowledge and experience so it is important to share this with the others.

What have you enjoyed most about being a peer?

I have enjoyed getting to know my peers from across Australia and hearing about their work and experiences. I have also enjoyed the process and the Australia Council team. There is much passion and genuine commitment to the sector. I have learnt a lot from reading hundreds of applications over the last three years and being part of the decision making process, funding the great projects that I believe will have great impact for communities and artists. Being a peer has definitely boosted my confidence as a CACD practitioner and reaffirmed my commitment to this field for years to come.

Nick Hughes

Nick Hughes, SA - Community Arts and Cultural Development Peer

If you were to encourage a colleague to become a Peer – what would you tell them…

About the time commitment required?

You need to make a serious commitment to investing the time in reading the applications thoroughly. Consider what other calls on your time there will be in the period between receiving the applications and the deadline for scoring them. If you have doubts about being able to devote the required time, you should seriously consider whether you should do it.

However, once you have read the first five or six applications, the process of scoring them does get quicker. This is partly because you get a sense of where the benchmarks are and partly because you become more familiar with the meanings of the criteria.

Make very detailed notes about each application as you go. This will help you review your scores and more importantly, it will greatly assist you in the assessment meeting to recall in detail your responses to each application.

What you may have learnt about your sector?

It is an honour to witness the wealth of great ideas across the sector; to see the diversity and integrity of the good proposals.

You also get to see some not so good proposals, which helps to further highlight the good ones.

Does everyone agree in the assessment meetings?

What should you be prepared to do?  

No, not everyone agrees, which is as you would expect in a diverse room of peers. This is where your detailed notes are most helpful, for they will help you be clear about what you think about the contentious applications and why.

And then you must listen intently to the thoughts of all the other peers in the room and try to gauge whether there are aspects of an application that you might need to reconsider.

What have you enjoyed most about being a peer?

Apart from the chance to see the diversity of the work of the sector, I have most enjoyed meeting and discussing the applications with the other peers. This is a most stimulating process for you have an opportunity to revisit the values, processes and protocols that underpin quality artwork. It is very refreshing to be able to spend some time with peers debating exactly what it is that makes a proposal likely to produce excellent art and why.

I came away from the process with a huge amount of respect for the knowledge and experience of the other peers and for how they used that to evaluate the proposed artworks. 

Peter Polites

Peter Polites, NSW - Community Arts and Cultural Development Peer

What is the best and worst thing about being an assessor?

Best things: Meeting cool people from all around Australia. The dialogue about art making. Legally entering a Harry Siedler building. Oh and the catering, so yummers.

Worst things: Reading, so much reading. The fact that we can’t fund more great projects. 

What should potential peers know before becoming an assessor?

To expect dialogue and conflict which is ultimately enriching. Expect to change your views. To realise that you won’t be able to fund everything. That Australia Council is the most important arts body in all of Australia and should be treated with the reverence it deserves.  

Esther Anatolitis

Esther Anatolitis, VIC - Community Arts and Cultural Development Peer

Video: Peer Assessors Talk about their recent Experience 2016

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