I would like to begin by also
acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the land on which we meet – the Kulin
Nation. I pay my respects to their Elders past and present and extend that
respect to all Aboriginal people here today.
Well. On Wednesday, Claire Spencer
noted in her opening remarks that arts funding in Australia has a rather high
profile right now.
Our international visitors are now
no doubt now aware, if they weren’t
already, of the immediate challenges faced by the Australian arts sector.
There is no question that there is
a need for significantly greater investment in the arts in this country.
The arguments for public investment
in the arts are many – the value multi-faceted, intrinsic and instrumental. All
of us here know this. We live this. However, many remain who question the value
of public investment in the arts, have little awareness or appreciation for the
work and impact of artists, and the Australia Council. How we address these
gaps is embedded in our advocacy and the communications which support it.
to the Council’s budget last May occurred just months after we’d launched a new
strategy and a new arts funding framework. Both were shaped from the ground up,
by, with and for the sector, built from deep consultation and sector input. A
reimagining of the government’s arms’ length peer assessed arts funding and
advisory body, as imagined by the art sector.
I can tell
you that we are seeing that the model works. We are receiving more diverse
applications, with more first time applicants. There is a much higher level of
investment in the art of our first peoples. New voices are being heard – though
it’s clear we still have a long way to go before the art we see on our stages
is truly representative, as Annette Shun Wah put it on Wednesday, of the people
we see on the street.
cuts mean that our framework does not have the investment with which it was
designed to be delivered. This is the truth with which we are all contending.
We have such
a strong and vibrant arts culture in this country. But the reality is that
there are many more excellent and deserving artists and organisations than we
currently have the capacity to support. This is cold comfort to those excellent
organisations and why continued advocacy for increased investment is pressing
And we know
that investment in the arts has an extraordinary rate of return. Making a case
for the arts and measuring impact in our communities over time is more vital
than ever. Council’s role in research and advocacy has never been more
important, as a strategically developed evidence base for the arts will play a
pivotal role in the case for greater public investment.
We are acutely aware, also, of the key
role that the Australia Council has played in international development for
Australian arts. The Council has been the lead public investor in Australian
international arts activity, supporting artists and arts organisations to take
up the creative, economic, and development opportunities offered by
We’ve been widely viewed as a best
practice arts council by the international arts community and our peers. The
International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies – IFACCA - made
a submission in support of the Australia Council’s work through the Senate
Inquiry process of last year, as did many international partners and presenting
organisations. This was deeply appreciated. As many of you are here today, this
is an opportunity to say thank you.
International arts activity takes time,
money and collaborative networks. Over the years, we have built strong
relationships with many international partners including:
- a long term – now seven-year – partnership with IETM
- a new three-year partnership with PS122 in New
York via their COIL Festival
- new partnerships coordinating the presence of
First Nations artists from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Taiwan and the US
- a wonderful reciprocal partnership with the
National Arts Council Singapore on contemporary dance
- and of course, our partnership with ISPA on the
A number of
people who shaped this work at Council over the years are in this room today –
among them Collette Brennan, Karilyn Brown, Fenn Gordon, Elaine Chia. Their
contribution to the Council’s international vision has been enormous. I’m
reminded, almost daily, that I stand on the shoulders of giants.
as we all know, is a well-honed feature of the arts community, but there are
limits. One pressure point that has been thrown into stark relief over the last
year has been the strength and fragility of our international arts engagement.
The sudden dearth of available funding for international presentation that
happened in the month following the May 2015 budget, and the uncertainty of
organisational and project funding, has been devastating to the long term plans
of regularly touring organisations and artists. The deep and lasting
relationships, built up with international presenters over decades, forged on
trust and reliability, have been jeopardised.
game we are all playing in international arts development has been
significantly tested. Maintaining the important ground we have made with over
two decades of sustained investment is an urgent priority. We have been working
to ensure that the good work of many years – Council’s work and the work of the
sector we serve – will not be undone.
Australian Performing Arts Market in February was again a resounding success in
stimulating global interest in Australian work. But it couldn’t have happened
at a more uncertain time. Recognising urgent need and current constraints in
both Australia Council and Catalyst funding with regard to quick response, we
immediately allocated some of the partial return of funds from the Ministry for
the Arts to create the APAM presentation fund. Not to follow through on the
opportunities that were generated at APAM would have been disastrous. The
relationships of many years had to be sustained. The response to our call for
applications after APAM was resounding, and we’ve received well over $1m of
applications which we’re assessing next week, and we’ll be announcing as
quickly as we can. It’s what we can do, in the here and the now.
While funding remains an important
element of support for international work, equally important is advice and
introductions, made possible through market intelligence and established
networks to fast track the international aspirations of Australian artists. We
continue our work in supporting our artists to develop relationships and seek
international opportunities not only in the established markets of North
America and western Europe but increasingly in our own neighbourhood, the
source of much potential and richness. Here at ISPA are two of the Australia
Council’s three International Development Managers.
Rosie Hinde and Kathryn Deyell are
part of the team we’ve been building to respond to the need for an ongoing and
active presence in key international markets.
The International Development
Managers are “connectors”. They build networks and relationships. They share
market intelligence. They assist Australian artists to engage internationally.
They work to increase audiences for Australian arts in key international markets.
Development Managers are focussed on opportunities in three, albeit very large,
- North and South Asia,
- North America and
- Western and Northern Europe.
Continuing support programs
We also continue to deliver important support
programs, such as our Regional Presenters program that has just been launched
last month. Remember Go See – the fund that enabled presenters to travel to see
work? This is better. It is an audience and presenter development program
designed to allow regional arts presenters to plan a year’s travel, seeing
Australian works and building networks with producers. It aims to build
programming skills to attract, diversify and retain audiences in regional areas
and to enable a much greater diversity of work to reach the audiences who
hunger for it. It’s another ‘long game’ investment for development over time.
Launching the ISPA fellowship
And today I can announce that the
Australia Council is, right here and now, opening the call for applications for
the next round of the Australia Council ISPA Regional Fellowship Program.
This program is about making
Australian performing arts leaders as strong, resilient and creative as
possible, global in their outlook and networks.
Four of our five past ISPA fellows are
with us at this Congress. Their feedback about their three-year engagement with
ISPA has been overwhelmingly positive and the benefits of this investment in
our people simply undeniable. We can’t not do this again. And so we are.
About the Regional Fellowship Program
The regional fellowship program
provides an opportunity to engage with ideas, thinkers and leaders from the
world’s most significant performing arts organisations.
We are looking for another five
mid-career leaders from Australia’s performing arts community.
They will join, at last count, a
cohort of 52 fellows from around the world.
The five successful fellows will
- three years membership and full registration to
the New York ISPA Congress starting from Jan 2017
- admission to the one-day arts management seminar
prior to the congress
- funds to assist with travel and accommodation
when attending the Congress; and
- pairing with an ISPA member as a mentor.
Applications open today – right
now, in fact – and the deadline is the 30th June. More information
is now online at the ISPA and Council websites.
needs to be consistent and transparent. It needs to be long term in its
strategy and responsive in its delivery. It’s best when unfettered by agendas
and made by those with deep knowledge of arts practice.
It’s been quite a year. Perhaps
it’s one we’d all like to reimagine.
In fact, Wesley Enoch already has
done this for us. After the four year announcements, he said “this is not the
week the Arts died in this country. This is a week we will look back on and say
it was the week we found our voice. It was the week we stepped up and not
In Australia we expect that our
artists will exercise freedom of expression, and be recognised for being
fearless and taking risks as they develop and present inspiring, high quality
work across national and international borders. Australians are increasingly
looking for opportunities to access and participate in the arts, as audiences
and creators. We are committed to ensuring that diversity amongst our artists,
artistic practice, and audiences is supported and celebrated, and that our art
reflects our diverse nation.
at Council, we continue to advocate for increased investment in the arts. There
are challenges still to come and much to be done. I’ve tried to share some
light today whilst acknowledging the shade. This is a time of transition, some
intended, much not, during which we are seeing the resilience and passion of
the arts as a community.
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