How important is it that there are arts ‘service’ organisations?

20 Dec

Joy Burch MLA
Minister for the Arts
ACT Government
via email: burch@act.gov.au

Dear Ms Burch,

The Childers Group has serious concerns about the apparent recent downgrading of arts service organisations, as illustrated in severe cuts to Ausdance ACT, which is part of a highly regarded national network that has supported and promoted dance in the ACT since 1977.

We observe that the role of service organisations in the ACT has been seriously down-played by artsACT in recent years in its endeavour to spread its ever-diminishing funds more thinly and widely. Service organisations such as Ausdance are not artists, dance companies or funding bodies, but they do have a clear role in supporting artists and advocating on their behalf, i.e. a body of work that can be quantified under the following headings prepared by ArtsPeak, the alliance of national arts service organisations:

  1. Government liaison and advocacy
  2. Research
  3. Sector leadership and arts industry standards
  4. Capacity building of the sector
  5. Raise the profile and promote the value of the arts
  6. Support artists’ income generation
  7. Sector representation

As a member of ArtsPeak, the Childers Group strongly supports this statement (attached in full), and suggests that it should be included in the new artsACT strategic plan now being developed, not only to support funding guidelines, but to provide artists with a clear articulation of why service organisations are funded.

Image source: Ausdance ACT

Image source: Ausdance ACT

We are also concerned about the way in which artsACT has interpreted the following principles in its published ACT Arts Policy Framework as they specifically concern the work of Ausdance ACT in education:

  • Championing the importance of arts education and advocating for local arts organisations to be engaged in the implementation of the National Arts Curriculum.
  • The Australian National University Community Outreach Program, funded by the ACT Government to support music programs for teachers and school students, visual arts community access programs, and access to the School of Art and School of Music libraries and Llewellyn Hall.
  • Promoting and supporting arts activity across the school curriculum, developing systemic links between ACT Government schools, local and national arts organisations and tertiary institutions.

The Childers Group considers there is a highly artificial divide in funding decisions that differentiate between what is perceived to be ‘education’ and professional practice. The successful implementation of The Australian Curriculum: The Arts is an absolute imperative for the arts profession, a principle obviously shared by the government but now being interpreted inconsistently.

We understand that, as a result of cuts to Ausdance ACT, there will be a major downturn in its ability to continue to offer its valuable services to dance in the ACT. In the not unlikely event that the organisation might eventually have to close its doors, there will be an assumption that the only professionally-supported dance company in Canberra – QL2 Dance – will be required to take on the role of a service organisation in addition to its already overstretched program. It is highly unlikely that QL2 will be able to do so in the current funding environment, nor is it an appropriate role for a dance company.

The Childers Group has used the Ausdance ACT example to illustrate its point about the current trend to under-value and under-fund arts service organisations. We are not advocating on its behalf and do not want to engage with artsACT in specific reasons for its decisions.

We look forward to your response to our concerns, and to your assurance that arts service organisations will continue to be valued for their intrinsic value and not be downgraded in the review of the strategic plan now underway.

Yours faithfully,

Professor David Williams
Spokesperson

The Childers Group –
an indepedent arts forum for the ACT region

Arts review: update

20 Dec

Ainslie + Gorman Arts Centres: an ACT arts organisation in a state of significant evolution. What will be the policy context for such evolution in 2015?

Ainslie + Gorman Arts Centres: an ACT arts organisation in a state of significant evolution. What will be the policy context for such evolution in 2015?

We’ve now received a response from the ACT Minister for the Arts, Joy Burch MLA, and it can be found here: Reply from Joy Burch MLA re. ACT Arts Review (Dec 2014). The letter provides some information about the scope of the review and the proposed consultation process. The Childers Group is pleased to participate in the review’s reference group, and will advocate for the importance of broader consultation – involving new voices in the development of policy is always positive. Related to the review, Childers Group foundation member Nigel Featherstone has written a piece for the Canberra Times/Fairfax Media about the importance of governments at all levels being proud and public about their support of the arts. You can find Nigel’s article here.

ACT arts review: more info please

6 Dec

Preamble: the ACT Government, through artsACT, is currently reviewing its ‘Arts Policy Framework’. The Childers Group has written to the ACT Minister for the Arts, Joy Burch MLA, asking about the scope of the review, the consultation process, and the timing, as this information is not currently available on artsACT’s website. There has been some discussion in the ACT Legislative Assembly about the review of the arts policy, a transcript of which can be found here (the relevant discussion starts at p107).

 

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24 November 2014

Joy Burch MLA
Minister for the Arts
ACT Government
via email: burch@act.gov.au

Dear Ms Burch,

ACT ARTS POLICY FRAMEWORK REVIEW

The Childers Group writes to ask questions about the ACT Government’s review of the ACT Arts Policy Framework, which we understand is currently taking place.

The ACT Government's arts policy is being reviewed, but how will the arts sector be involved?

The ACT Government’s arts policy is being reviewed, but how will the arts sector be involved?

The Childers Group congratulates the ACT Government for developing the original Arts Policy Framework. As you no doubt agree, it is critical for the ACT Government to have a document that can guide decision-making and also provide a policy context for funding decisions. This is especially important when, now that our region is on the other side of the Centenary of Canberra celebrations, there are a number of key issues facing the arts sector: appropriate and sustainable levels of funding; provision of and support for a high-class network of facilities and venues; and maximising opportunities for all those in our communities to access arts activities of excellence.

The Group is also pleased that the ACT Government, through artsACT, is currently reviewing the document to ensure it meets needs and expectations.

However, we have questions about the review process:

  • What is the scope of the review? Is it a refresh of the policy or a rethink?
  • How will the ACT region’s arts community be able to provide input into the review process?
  • What is the review’s timeline? When are the community engagement points, and when will a draft be made available for comment? When will the final document be publicly available?

The ACT’s key arts organisations are well-placed to connect with their membership and communities to provide informed comment on draft proposals. Further, there are other organisations allied to the arts and the ACT who would be able to enrich the process. Of course, many of our eminent artists would also wish to contribute.

The Childers Group believes that the arts should not be left to the periphery; the arts should be at the centre of society. Good policy development, with a process that involves the arts sector and the community broadly, is a significant part of making this happen.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully,

Professor David Williams
Spokesperson

ACT BUDGET SUBMISSION 2015-16

18 Oct

Life in Canberra - Craft

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 October 2014

ACT Budget Consultation
Treasury Directorate
ACT Government
GPO Box 158
CANBERRA ACT 2601

THE CHILDERS GROUP: ACT BUDGET SUBMISSION 2015-16

The Childers Group welcomes the opportunity to provide input into the 2015-16 ACT Government Budget development process.

We are committed to advocating for the arts sector as we believe creativity and engagement in the arts are vital components of a healthy city. The ACT Budget is an opportunity to make adequate provision for the arts to flourish in our city. The Childers Group is an independent arts forum whose advocacy is based on the principles of:

  • independence;
  • objectivity;
  • valuing the arts; and
  • pride in Australia’s national capital city and the surrounding region.

The Childers Group is pleased to note the ACT Government’s continuing commitment to improving liveability and opportunity, better health and education outcomes and urban renewal. The funding and demonstrated commitment to a number of arts initiatives in the 2014/15 budget were welcomed by the Childers Group but, as we have made clear, we remain concerned about the capacities of the present level of arts funding to sustain a vibrant arts sector in the longer term.

Our submission focuses on the contribution the arts sector can play in:

  1. enhancing liveability and opportunity;
  2. 2. making Canberra healthy and smart.

Engagement and participation in the arts contribute to a healthy and smart city

Whatever form they take, the arts transform, chronicle and illuminate the world around us. The arts contribute to the quality of life in the ACT and are central to enhancing liveability and creating opportunities enlivening life in our community. The ACT enjoys a national reputation in terms of its participation in the arts. We should invest in that reputation. Similarly, we lead the nation in attendance at cultural events. The ACT Government can – and should – build on that.

Canberra is experiencing the maturation of a wide range of arts activity with a rich and exciting array of arts events and programs. These activities challenge our perceptions, inspire confidence, and create cohesion in our community. Professional arts activity across a broad range of art forms and community engagement in the arts are indicators of a healthy and smart life-style in a very liveable Canberra.

There is ample evidence, both in terms of qualitative and quantitative data, in particular from the UK, indicating a high return in terms of community well-being, on government investment in the arts and arts infrastructure.

In addition to the benefits to our immediate community, the arts represent a major attraction for tourists and visitors to Canberra and the surrounding region. The region offers considerable choice by way of galleries, craft outlets, theatres, the national cultural institutions and significant local facilities such as the Canberra Glassworks. Our city has become an attractive destination in terms of our cultural facilities and the lifestyle attractions, e.g. a lively arts and cultural events calendar, excellent wineries and great restaurants. In order for our arts and cultural sector to build on its capacity to serve both its local community and develop the visitor economy, high-quality programming and professional personnel are essential.

Life in Canberra - Craft2RECOMMENDATION 1: Ensure the continuing viability of our Key Arts Organisations and arts facilities.

The Childers Group strongly urges the ACT Government to ensure enhanced funding for ACT Key Arts organisations and arts infrastructure with CPI+ increases granted on an annual basis. The Childers Group is concerned to note the continuing pressure on Key Arts Organisations in particular, the diminishing capacity to attract – and then retain – professional staff to the ACT. This remains a critical issue as increased costs associated with programming and salaries, along with the pressure to contain operational overheads, results in arts organisations unable to offer financial incentives and professional development opportunities to valued staff members. Fair payment of ACT arts workers’ salaries commensurate with their skills and experience will ensure that the National Capital attracts qualified people with the necessary expertise to manage Canberra’s arts and cultural services. It will also ensure the efficient and sound management of the ACT’s key arts facilities.

RECOMMENDATION 2: Ensure appropriate funding for the alignment of ACT arts sector salaries with those of the community sector.

The Childers Group recommends that the salaries of our professional arts managers are benchmarked with salaries in the Community Service sector and with arts personnel in other states and territories. There is no real benchmarking for arts-workers’ salaries, in particular for administrative/senior management personnel, other than information obtained through informal networks. The National Association for the Visual Artists can provide some guidance, but this is not cross–sectoral. We understand the Chief Minister, Treasurer and the Economic Development Directorate (CMTEDD) have commenced an audit of the economic impact of the arts sector on the ACT economy. This is an important initiative. The Childers Group would welcome further information being made available to the sector on the scope of the consultancy and the anticipated timeframe for completion.

Conclusion:
The Childers Group strongly urges the ACT Government to consider increased investment in the arts budget. Our city is internationally recognised as one of the world’s most liveable cities and the Murrumbateman Yass Valley region is classified as one of the fastest growing in NSW. It is imperative that artists and highly skilled arts workers are attracted to come and stay here and continue to nurture the creative engagement within our city and the wider community.

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Information about the images used in this post:
Presented by Craft ACT: Craft + Design Centre in partnership with ACT Parks and Conservation Service, the Gudgenby Ready-Cut Cottage Artist-in-Residencies Program in the Namadgi National Park delivers individual residencies, a forum, workshops, artist talks, open days and a group exhibition.

Images courtesy of Andrew Sikorski.

Forum update 6: the feedback

11 Oct

Arts_Leadership_Forum_RGB_Logo_150dpiAfter a bit of a lie-down, your Arts Leadership Forum planning team has gone through the feedback sheets and collated participant thoughts and reflections on the event. Here’s a summary document: Arts Leadership Forum 2014 – Participant Feedback Report – October 2014. If you weren’t able to provide your feedback on the day, you’re welcome to email us on childersgroup@gmail.com. All feedback and ideas we receive go into the planning for our next forum, which we anticipate will be in 2015. While we’ve got you, if you hear of some interesting (read: potentially concerning) developments going in the world of the arts in the ACT region, drop us a line about that too.

Forum update 6: thank you, one and all, and some things to watch and read

13 Sep

Arts Leadership Forum 2014 - B&W - smallerTHANK YOU to all the participants, presenters and panelists at the Arts Leadership Forum, which was held in partnership with the Cultural Facilities Corporation on 1 September. For those who attended, we hope that there were a wide range of ideas, challenges and solutions discussed and explored, and that you will head out into the world and take the arts community just that little further forwards.

Below is a video of the final plenary session and two responses to the Forum. If you see any other responses, or have written one yourself, please do let us know so we can add it to the list.

Final Plenary Session: For love or money? (video)

Take us by the hand, arts leaders, and tread softly by Sarah St Vincent Welch

Arts leaders engage by Nigel Featherstone, published in BMA Magazine

Woohoo, it’s Forum Day!

1 Sep

Forum day!Looking forward to seeing you all at noon at the Canberra Theatre Centre Link. For those using social media, the hashtag is #ArtsLeadership2014.

Let the discussions begin!

Forum update 5: everything you need to know about Arts Leadership Forum 2014 in 30 beautiful seconds!

28 Aug

Arts_Leadership_Forum_RGB_Logo_150dpiWhen is it?
Monday 1 September, from 12noon to 5pm.

What’s it about?
The Arts Leadership Forum 2014 will tackle the big issues for the future of arts leadership in our region and the nation. Topics to be explored include:

  • what is arts leadership and how does it differ from other types of leadership?
  • what are the new and emerging trends in arts leadership?
  • who leads – the board or the chief executive officer?
  • how can an arts organisation diversify its funding base?
  • How best to embrace change?

Parallel break-out sessions will enable all participants to ask questions, highlight challenges, and suggest solutions.

Where can I get my hands on the program?
Just click on this link: Arts Leadership Forum 2014 – program

Who are the speakers?
We have a range of high-profile arts leaders – some are chief executives, some are artistic directors, some are arts advocates, some are artists. For a full list of the speakers, just click on this link: Arts Leadership Forum 2013 – presenter bios

Can anyone attend or do you have to be an arts leader already?
The forum is open to all those working in the arts.

Do I need to book?
Yes, but it’s easy – just go to the Forum’s EventBrite page. Please note that bookings must close on Sunday 30 August.

How much does it cost?
The full ticket price is $100. For independent practicing artists it is $75. If you are an experienced arts blogger/live-tweeter, we have a small number of $30 tickets.

How can I get a hold of one of those $30 tickets?
Send us an email at childersgroup@gmail.com, tell us your blog’s name or Twitter handle, and give us a very brief idea about how you’ll talk digitally – positive, negative, up, down and sideways – about the event when you attend.

Where is the Arts Leadership Forum 2014 being held?
Canberra Theatre Centre and Canberra Museum and Gallery, ACT.

Who’s organising the forum?
The Arts Leadership Forum 2014 is being co-presented by the Childers Group and the Cultural Facilities Corporation.

Is this a money-making venture?
No, the Childers Group is strictly not for profit.

How often do these Childers Group forums happen?
The Childers Group organises one forum each year, and each year they are on a different theme. This is our first co-presentation with the Cultural Facilities Corporation.

Who is the Childers Group?
We are a collective of arts advocates. We aim to be a strong and considered voice for the arts in the ACT region. We do not receive any operational funding from any source (nor do we apply for any) and rely on the generosity of our members and partners to undertake our advocacy work. Visit the About and Our People pages on this website for more information.

How can I stay connected with you?
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and keep visiting this website. We want to know what you think.

Forum update 4: What’s past is prologue – arts leadership today

28 Aug

Summer morning, 1916, Elioth Gruner. Image: www.museumsandgalleries.act.gov.au

Summer morning, 1916, Elioth Gruner. Image: www.museumsandgalleries.act.gov.au

By Shane Breynard

Just a handful of years has seen a generational shift in arts leadership for my part of the world, and I am including our showy big sister Sydney here with us in Canberra.

Almost a mini-bus full of our most senior arts directors, often after 25 or more years of experience, have either left or are about to leave their posts. Many will have held their coveted and suitably well-paid jobs for over a decade. These are senior arts professionals who do what they do very well. They usually retire when they must, either when the next gilt rung of the institutional ladder reveals itself, when retirement looms, or when the challenges within an organisation require a new broom.

Andrew Sayers, for example, left in 2010 after 12 years at the helm of the National Portrait Gallery, for a short stint at the National Museum of Australia (NMA). Edmund Capon resigned in 2011 after 33 years as Director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Then came Steve Gower, resigning in 2012 after directing the Australian War Memorial for 16 years. And in just a few weeks Ron Radford will step down as Director of the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) after 10 years in office. Ron started out as a Director at Ballarat Fine Art Gallery in 1973.

It is a disturbing fact that our outstanding women directors, in the museums sector at least, don’t appear to be reaching the decade of service in the one institution as often as the old boys do.

In comparison, a more spectacularly rapid change of guard has taken place among our smaller, Canberra-focused arts organisations. Gorman and Ainslie Arts Centres, PhotoAccess, M16, ANCA, Megalo Print Studio, Canberra Glassworks, Belconnen and Tuggeranong Arts Centres, the ACT Writers Centre and Strathnairn; not to forget the Australian National University’s Drill Hall Gallery and Schools of Art and Music, which have all switched leaders in just a few years.

So what are the implications of these big changes in art leadership? And what does it mean for the public our museums serve, and arts activity our organisations support?

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Keep reading over at ArtsHub, where this piece was first published on
19 August 2014.

Forum update 3: special offer for online communicators

24 Aug

Blogger - B&WWe love bloggers.

We also really like building on issues/challenges/opportunities shared at previous forums, including our 2013 forum which focused on the role of the arts critic/writer.

So, to spread the love, and the insight, for our Arts Leadership Forum on 1 September we’re offering a number of specially priced tickets to bloggers and experienced live-tweeters.

Send us an email at childersgroup@gmail.com tell us your blog’s name or Twitter handle, and give us a very brief idea about how you’ll talk digitally – positive, negative, up, down and sideways – about the event when you attend and we will give you a ticket for the special price of $30.

We have only a limited number of these classic-off-white coloured tickets available.

So get in quick!

Important correction as at 27 August: in the original version of this post the email address in the text was correct but the hotlink was incorrect (we’d added an unnecessary ‘au’). For those who emailed us about the $30 tickets before 27 August, please email us again ASAP. We apologise for any inconvenience.

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Arts Leadership Forum 2014 is a co-presentation between the Childers Group and the Cultural Facilities Corporation.