Celebration of the new Australia Council premises - Sam Walsh AO

    26 September 2019

    Celebration of the new Australia Council premises
    Sam Walsh AO.
    Australia Council for the Arts

    We come together today from many places to meet at the Australia Council’s new home.

    It is an exciting move for Council and, as Adrian notes, it fortuitously happened in the same week we launched our new Strategy and Corporate Plan. It seems it’s a good time for new beginnings. 

    I hope you have a chance to explore this wonderful new space. 

    It is fresh, it is contemporary, and it is already transforming the working lives of our staff.

    So too - our new strategy is contemporary and has the potential to transform the lives of all Australians. Because all  Australians benefit when creativity thrives.  

    We are rich in creative, artistic and cultural resources that, if harnessed, have enormous potential for our collective prosperity. As our mineral resources helped us fuel our economy, our creative resources will help us navigate this fourth industrial revolution. 

    We are entering an era of acceleration that is already disrupting industries, communities, relationships.  

    A  time of unprecedented change is upon us.  But rather than hide from this change, we will embrace it.  Because we preside over the cultural and creative resources most needed to make sense of it. The cultural and creative resources most needed to properly explore cultural, social and economic opportunities that will come with it.  

    At a time when our future is rushing towards us and opinions are dividing around us, the arts have a bigger and more public role to play.

    We have been thinking a lot about the value that is created by arts and culture. And by public value, we mean the cultural nourishment, the physical and psychological wellbeing, of every Australian and of our community as a whole. We mean the expansion and celebration of our cultural identity as a nation. We mean the importance of the cultural and creative sector to Australia's economy and so to every citizen. The intrinsic value, the social value, the cultural value, the economic value. 

    Our new strategy draws on extensive consultation, thousands of responses, a deep body of evidence gathered over decades, and rigorous analysis.

    It’s a plan that charts our journey towards greater public value. 

    Towards a more wholistic view of what Australians require from the arts. 

    Towards more cultural, social and economic value creation, through the arts. 

    We have five new strategic priorities that align with our vision, that recognise Australians are transformed by arts and creativity, and deserve more opportunities to be captivated and inspired by it. That recognise our arts must truly reflect us, not just some of us. And that change is needed to achieve equity of opportunity and access to creative experience, the creative workforce, and our audiences. That cherish First Nations arts and culture, building on a long-term commitment that recognises the importance of First Nations peoples, self- determination, cultural authority and leadership to our collective prosperity. That ensure our arts and creativity are thriving. By focusing our efforts on those things that will create the best circumstances for a thriving arts sector. And, that greater advocacy will increase awareness of the value of public investment in arts and creativity.

    These are indeed exciting times. 

    Our Strategy presents exciting changes to the way the Australia Council champions and invests in Australian arts and creativity. 

    Changes that will deliver greater public value through the arts, by focusing our investment and efforts on that which connects us all. 

    We are a rich nation. 

    These changes will facilitate a more equitable distribution of our cultural and creative wealth, as well as enabling that wealth to develop and grow. 

    Sam Walsh AO

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