ACT Arts Minister Gordon Ramsay’s speech at the ARTS VALUE FORUM

23 Aug

Thank you to the 100+ participants at last month’s Arts Value Forum which Childers Group presented in partnership with the Cultural Facilities Corporation. There were some fantastic presentations, conversations and connections made.. We will be posting material from the Forum as it comes to hand.

ACT Arts Minister Gordon Ramsay’s speech at the ARTS VALUE FORUM

The arts in an inclusive society

I acknowledge the traditional owners of this land, the Ngunnawal people, and their elders past, present and emerging. I acknowledge their care for this land and their strong ongoing contribution to this community. I acknowledge the presence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here today and commit myself to ongoing acts of reconciliation with our nation’s First Peoples.

Let me start with a simple idea. I am committed to making Canberra a stronger place, where “everyone belongs, everyone is valued, everyone can participate”. And this is every bit as important in my role as Minister for Arts and Community Events as it is for my work as Attorney-General, or as Minister for Veterans and Seniors.

A significant focus for me as Arts Minister is inclusion. I am strongly interested in asking the questions about

  • who is making art in the ACT, and who is not, and why?
  • who is engaging in the Arts in the ACT, and who is not, and why?
  • what are the barriers, real and perceived, to participation?
  • and what do the Arts contribute to the life of our city and the lives of its inhabitants?

Arts and culture are an integral part of the lives of both individuals and the social and economic fabric of Canberra and our region. The arts help to define our community’s identity and give expression to community values. They help make our city a vibrant place to live and an attractive destination for tourism and business.

For me, participation is key: if creative expression is one of the core ways that human beings connect with others, share their stories, and explore our souls, we should be ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to participate in the Arts and not only as consumers but as creators as well. Because art not only produces things of beauty and challenges us to see the world differently – it also plays an important role in health, fitness and wellbeing.

We need to aim to foster the cultural capability of all its citizens, acknowledging that “art” comprises not only the work of artists and creative industries, but also the “everyday creativity” we are all capable of.

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our community, this impetus to create art is even more interconnected with the expression of identity and culture: it expresses history, geography, law, kinship, and spirituality, and is essential to health, wholeness, and the intergenerational transference of cultural knowledge and practices.

We know that Canberrans are strongly engaged with arts and culture: we go to galleries, museums, and music, dance and theatre performances substantially more often than in other areas of Australia

If the ability to access the arts   and the capability to make art   are inherently important to human wellbeing and community, we must ensure we are fostering cultural democracy – providing the places, spaces, empowerment, and resources – the capability – for everyone to engage with the creative process in whatever way brings added fulfillment their lives.

This is why we need genuine inclusion in the arts.

We know that inclusion in the Arts occurs when three things are present:

  1. access – where the physical, social and psychological barriers to participation are removed;
  2. representation – where the diversity of our community is reflected in our art and artists; and
  3. inclusive culture – where buildings, programs, events, funding, and resourcing are focused on people first as creative beings with a right to participate in the arts.

In Canberra we have so many arts organisations at the forefront of global best practice in inclusion.

Earlier this year, my office hosted an ANU Intern, Chloe Thompson, who conducted a research project on community inclusion in the Arts in the ACT. I’d like to share a few of the excellent examples she identified of local arts organisations that are breaking down of barriers to participation:

  • QL2’s, “Licence to Dance”, is aimed at helping boys overcome the gendered assumption that boys don’t dance by providing male role models and creating a safe space to explore movement.
  • Belconnen Arts Centre’s hip hop music program, “Talk Blak”, invites young people, especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and migrant youth, to tell their stories through music, and developing song writing and performance skills. At the same time the program is building confidence, resilience, and leadership, while creating positive social engagement.
  • CSO’s, “Meet the Music” breaks down the barrier between audience and orchestra, providing relaxed, interactive performances where the traditional, often intimidating, notions of “attending a concert” are set aside. The CSO also offers an innovative program for people with impaired hearing to experience music in unconventional ways.
  • You are Here puts accessibility at the forefront and not just in terms of physical access. Detailed information is provided about whether events are primarily audio or visual in nature; audio descriptions and video captioning are provided; carers and companions are specifically accommodated; and performances adopt a relaxed philosophy that means the audience can come and go and move about as needed.
  • And the Belconnen and Tuggeranong Arts Centres host world-class programs in dance for people with Multiple Sclerosis, Dementia and Parkinsons, where a healthy mind-body connection is fostered through mobility, creativity, balance, rhythm, and flexibility in a friendly, social environment that is also inclusive of partners and carers.

More broadly, the ACT’s community arts organisations provide programs for children, social interaction through their coffee shops and member services, and launch pads for young and emerging artists.  They exhibit a broad range of visual and performance art, and they foster the everyday creativity of our broader community.

Simply imagine …

  • people chatting on the footpath watching a piece of street art take shape during Art Not Apart;
  • people trying the “Make your Own” experience at the Glassworks;
  • people sharing a cup of coffee and browsing the library in Photo Access’s communal spaces;
  • families creating and launching kites together at the BAC Spring Winds festival;
  • or a hundred ordinary Canberrans coming together for a Kate Bush dance flash mob in Glebe Park two weekends ago.

These are the places and the spaces where art provokes conversation and everyday creativity happens, where people are invited and enabled to express themselves through art and experience greater social connectedness, improved health and wellbeing, and find a sense of individual and collective identity.

With accessible and inclusive arts facilities and programs, we can create a Canberra where everyone belongs, everyone is valued, everyone can participate – through art.

The ACT is clearly a leader in community inclusion in the arts but we can and should strive to always do better. This is something I will remain strongly focused on as your Arts Minister and I will always welcome and celebrate new initiatives that continue to foster cultural democracy and a truly inclusive arts scene.


Arts Value Forum Video Presentations

23 Aug

Thank you to the 100+ participants at last month’s Arts Value Forum which Childers Group presented in partnership with the Cultural Facilities Corporation. There were some fantastic presentations, conversations and connections made.. We will be posting material from the Forum as it comes to hand.

Check out video of some of the presentations from the #ArtsValueForum commencement panel online via Arts Front here:


Kathy Leigh’s Welcome


Kate Fielding’s Keynote presentation


Natasha Cica’s presentation


Jenni Kemarre Martiniello’s presentation is here


Announcing: Arts Value Forum – July 26th 2017

15 Jun

What exactly do the arts do for us: for our society, for our economy, for our health and wellbeing, for innovation, for education, for self-expression – and for the creation of beautiful and useful things? How do we understand, express and measure the value of the arts?

Leading experts and practitioners in health, economics, culture and the arts will gather in Canberra next month to share insights on the diverse impact and value of the arts in our community.

The Arts Value Forum – 12.30 till 6pm on Wednesday July 26th 2017 at the Canberra Theatre Centre – is being jointly convened by arts advocacy body The Childers Group and the Cultural Facilities Corporation.

The forum’s keynote speaker is Kalgoorlie-Boulder based Kate Fielding, the Chair of Regional Arts Australia and a Board Member of the Australia Council for the Arts.

A line up of twenty speakers in plenary and parallel sessions include Minister for the Arts and Community Events, Gordon Ramsay, award-winning local Indigenous artist, Jenni Kemarre Martiniello, creative sector specialist, CEO and Director of Heide Museum of Modern Art, Natasha Cica, and Kareena Arthy, the new head of the ACT Government’s Enterprise Canberra.

12.30pm – 6pm Wednesday July 26th 2017, Canberra Theatre Centre

Tickets are $110 (full price) and $88 (concession). Please note, the ticket price has been calculated to recover costs of travel, fees, catering, production costs and other event expenses. 

There are bursaries available – see the Eventbrite site for more info.

Tickets here:

Arts Value Forum_Flyer

Arts Value Forum program

Arts value forum speakers bios

ACT Budget and Election and the Arts Community takes Action!!

23 Feb

In the days before Christmas last year, the ACT Government announced the lowest level of funding for arts projects in living memory. From around $1.1M in 2005, artACT’s Project Funding category has been reduced to just $300,000 per year. After action taken by the ACT Arts Community the new Minister for the Arts, Gordon Ramsay, announced an additional $230,000 would be allocated to the Project Funding Round and that hopefully 13 more projects would receive funding.

A positive action by the new Minister.

And what has the Childers Group been doing? Well prior to the Project Funding announcement we’ve been busy with the ACT Budget process over the year and the ACT Assembly election.


ACT Government Budget Process : 2016 and 2017

Since 2012 the Childers Group has been involved in the ACT budget process. As part of that we submitted a detailed submission to ACT Treasury as part of the 2016/17 Budget process. A request for an additional $500,000 was made, specifically for Project funding.

Recommendation 2

Likewise, we strongly urge the Government to allocate additional funding to the ACT Arts Fund project round in support of projects by individuals, groups and companies in the ACT. The Project Funding category is – regrettably – supporting fewer projects each year due to the increasing cost of delivering arts projects; this is especially true of the performing arts. The Childers Group strongly advocates for this category to receive additional funding of $500,000 per annum over the next three years.

In September 2016, the Childers Group released an analysis ( done by Jack Lloyd) of the past 12 years of arts grants in the ACT and the trends within different funding types. This analysis shows that over this time, stretching over three full electoral cycles, there has been a significant decline in ACT arts grants on a per capita basis, and as a proportion of funds available to Government and this data was presented by Childers Group representatives to ACT Budget Estimates on June 17th.

A link to that analysis can be found at :

A link to the Estimates appearance can be found at :

In December 2016, the Childers Group submitted another detailed submission as part of the 2017/2018 Budget process.

The Childers Group strongly recommends increased investment in the arts as outlined in our submission. Canberra is rightly recognised as one of the world’s great cities, and one of the most liveable cities in the world. This phenomenal achievement is due in part to the rich diversity of creative opportunity available to us to experience and participate in. With the growth of our city and surrounding regions, we must be courageous and imaginative in ensuring these opportunities grow with us.

A key recommendation of our submission was :


The Childers Group strongly advocates that the increase of an extra $750,000 per year for the ACT Arts Fund that was committed to by ACT Labor during the recent election process be allocated in the 2017-2018 Budget.

The 2016 ACT Election :

The Childers Group was active during the ACT Election process. In February, we held a very successful forum at Gorman House attended by the arts spokespeople for Labor, Liberal and the Greens. Just prior to the election the Childers Group released 3 videos on our Facebook page with the arts and cultural policies of the major parties.

The Childers Group (and the sector) were delighted to learn that the ALP pledged an additional $750,000 for arts funding. It appeared our advocacy and consultations with artsACT and government had been successful.

A Disappointing end to 2016 :

The announcement (five days before Christmas) of a 66% reduction in 2017 Project Funding for arts projects rocked the arts community. An extensive advocacy program resulted.

Several excellent blogs and articles quickly appeared:

Helen Musa :

Katie Burgess at the Canberra Times :

Michael Sollis (convenor) , along with 40 artists met at the Street Theatre on 22nd December and arranged a delegation to meet with the Minister.

Coming out of that meeting a letter signed by 60 independent artists was sent to Minister Ramsay. In it they said :

“Project Funding ensures that there is diverse and vibrant arts activity, and provides opportunities for career and artistic development. Project Funding is also an essential and cost-effective way to inject much- needed resources into a diverse cross-section of the arts in the ACT and to ensure its sustainability. Given only a handful of projects are able to be supported by the Government in 2017, next year is now looking to be an “un-vibrant” year for Canberra arts.”

The Childers Group also wrote to Minister Ramsay and the Chief Minister. In it we said

“The Childers group believes it is essential that individual artists and groups continue to receive an appropriate level of ACT Government funding if we are to see innovative, professional and engaging arts flourish in, and add considerable value to, Australia’s national capital. This reduction in funding is unfathomable and unwise. It runs counter to all the positive goals the government is striving for in outr region. Please consider an urgent review of this decision.

A Positive outcome to the Funding cut

The Childers Group met with the Minister in late January and overall it was a constructive meeting. Many issues were covered. He made a strong commitment to honour the Labor election promises, so we can expect to see the $750k in this year’s budget.

On the 1st February the Minister announced a further $230,000 had been allocated to the Project Funding Round. There is no doubt that the action taken by the ACT Arts Community ( lead by Michael Sollis ) has led to this outcome. Well done to all those concerned.

Also congratulations to Minister Ramsay for making this positive step forward in his new portfolio. The Childers Group looks forward to building a good relationship with him over the life of this Assembly.

As part of our general arts advocacy program for this year the Childers Group is planning to meet with all the new Assembly MLA’s over the first half of this year. We have had positive meetings already with Vicki Dunne ( Liberal ) and Caroline Le Couteur ( Greens).

The work by the Childers Group will continue as no doubt, will the strong advocacy of independent artists and arts workers across the ACT and our region

It’s important to add your voice.



ACT Election arts & culture policy videos online now!

6 Oct

The Childers Group coordinator, Jack Lloyd, posed 5 questions to 3 of the potential candidates for the Arts portfolio in the ACT. See their responses on our public Facebook page. It’s great to see arts and culture being thought about, discussed, passionately defended, and ideas flying about in social media and in the news. Go to to join the discussion, and you can read a summary below.screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-7-42-12-pm

Take a closer look – ACT Arts Grants, 2003 to 2015

5 Sep

The Childers Group thought it was time to re-share this info to sharpen our focus as we lead up to the ACT Election. (Bravo and a big thank you to Jack Lloyd for this work.)

The Childers Group put together an analysis of the past 12 years of arts grants in the ACT and the trends within different funding types. This analysis shows that over this time, stretching over three full electoral cycles, there has been a significant decline in ACT arts grants on a per capita basis, and as a proportion of funds available to Government.

This analysis is drawn from over 1,500 grant entries in ACT Government annual reports, copied and sorted by grant type.

Some of our conclusions at this stage:

  • On a per-capita basis, adjusted for inflation, total grant funded arts activity has decreased from $24.79 in 2004-05 to $22.30 in 2015-16, or by 10%
  • If 2015-16 activity were funded at 2004-05 per capita rates, total grants would be increased by $973,384
  • As a proportion of Total Government Revenue, it has decreased from 0.233% to 0.189% over the same time period, a proportional decrease of 18.8%
  • If  2015-16 activity were funded at an equivalent proportion of Total Government Revenue as in 2004-05, total grants would be increased by $2,012,304
  • Key Arts and Program funding has increased by 40% per capita since 2004-05
  • The number of project and out of round grants for the ACT arts community has approximately halved
  • The proportion of the arts fund allocated to project grants has approximately halved
  • Project grants are around 20% smaller in size (inflation adjusted) than a decade ago

The graphs are available here, the full analysis and notes are available for download in excel format here – we invite any corrections or further contributions, comments, or contact us on or through Facebook.

We think this information provides a clear picture of how arts grants to individuals and organisations are being prioritised in the ACT. When we consider the amount of services available to the community, and opportunities available to the arts sector, we see that we are trying to do more with less.

On Friday 17 June, Childers Group members Jack Lloyd and Michael White appeared in front of the ACT Legislative Assembly Select Committee on Estimates 2016-17 to deliver this analysis. We have requested an immediate increase of $500,000 in new funding to the project grant round to arrest the significant decline in this area, and we urge the ACT Government and all parties seeking representation in the Assembly in the 2016 Election to commit to a restoration of arts grant funds to previous effective levels. You can watch our appearance here.


CG letter re efficiency dividend

30 Jun

We are sharing the letter the Childers Group sent to Dr Andrew Leigh MP on 29 June 2016. The letter is in response to comments by Dr Leigh in a recent radio interview.Letter to Andrew Leigh

ACT Arts Grants, 2003 to 2015

24 Jun

The Childers Group has put together an analysis of the past 12 years of arts grants in the ACT and the trends within different funding types. This analysis shows that over this time, stretching over three full electoral cycles, there has been a significant decline in ACT arts grants on a per capita basis, and as a proportion of funds available to Government.

This analysis is drawn from over 1,500 grant entries in ACT Government annual reports, copied and sorted by grant type.

Here’s how we’re looking.


Arts Day of Action – 17 June 2016

14 Jun

Following the success of ArtsPeak’s election debate in Melbourne last week, the Childers Group invite you to be involved in a new lobbying strategy in the lead up to the federal election – an Arts Day of Action on 17th June 2016.


  • The arts and cultural industries employ more people than agriculture, construction or mining, and generate $50 billion for the Australian economy.
  • Independent artists and organisations are the backbone of the arts in Australia, generating new ideas and new talent.
  • Our creative industries are innovators for our nation.
  • On 13 May this year 50% of small to medium arts companies did not receive funding because of the government’s cuts to the Australia Council. This will result in job losses across the cultural industries, educational institutions and the commercial sector.

Here’s how you can be involved on 17 June:

  • Share your concerns with local media and on social media with #istandwiththearts and #ausvotesarts
  • Contact your peers and plan your own action for the arts.
  • Sign this petition to restore arts funding.
  • Write to the Arts Minister, the Hon. Mitch Fifield, inviting him to: Fund Culture, Fund the Arts, Change Lives.
  • Vote for the candidates with the best arts policies on 2 July.

ArtsPeak letter to PM

15 Apr

We are sharing a copy of a letter sent to our PM by the Australian multi-arts peak body, ArtsPeak. The letter expresses their consolidated view of the status of Federal Government support for arts and culture in Australia, and suggests some ways forward in relation to recent changes in policy direction. A good read.

ArtsPeakLetter to PM March 2016