Childers Group represents the arts at the ACT Legislative Assembly – for the third consecutive year

13 Jun

The Greek SenateOn 12 June 2015 the Childers Group presented to the Select Committee on Estimates 2015-2016 in relation to its Inquiry into the ACT Appropriation Bill 2015-2016 and the Appropriation (Office of the Legislative Assembly) Bill 2015-2016. This is where the ACT Legislative Assembly establishes a cross-party committee to hear community response to the budget. This is the third consecutive year that the Childers Group has presented its response to the ACT budget, as it is the third consecutive year that the Group has provided a pre-budget submission on what we consider are the key challenges and opportunities.

The following summarises the key points made by the Childers Group at the most recent Estimates Committee session:

  • The Childers Group appreciates the longstanding bipartisan political support for the arts in the ACT
  • We appreciate the recent capital works investment in the Ainslie and Gorman arts centres, and the proposed capital works investment in the Canberra Theatre Centre
  • However, the Childers Group is concerned about 5 key areas:
  1. The lack of growth to the ACT Arts Fund, which is the primary mechanism ACT governments use to directly support the arts;
  2. The lack of growth to the ACT Arts Fund means that Key Arts Organisations are becoming increasingly constrained in meeting the needs of the ACT community and, further, the Key Arts Organisations are – in the main – unable to offer competitive salaries. In relation to the latter point, the Childers Group acknowledges that arts organisations are independent bodies and are therefore responsible for setting pay rates, but we believe the ACT Government has a role in supporting and nurturing an arts ecology where competitive salaries are possible.
  3. The ACT Arts Fund’s Project Funding round, which directly supports practicing artists, who in turn provide a wide range of arts activity in which the broader community can engage and enjoy, has diminished significantly – it is the Childers Group’s understanding that this funding category has dropped from approximately $1.1M in 2005 to approximately $700,000 in 2015. During this period the ACT population has grown by approximately 15% and costs of delivering arts project have increased significantly.
  4. The Childers Group appreciates artsACT’s recent review of the ACT Arts Policy Framework, but we express concern at the minimal level of sector consultation, specifically it appears that a draft of the ‘refreshed’ policy will not be made available for broader sector comment before being finalised.
  5. At last year’s Select Committee on Estimates there was discussion about the need for a Economic Impact Statement on the value of the arts and the Childers Group was very pleased to see the ACT Government commit to undertaking this work during the review of the ACT Arts Policy Framework. However, the Group expresses concern that the Economic Impact Statement appears to have been completed but has not been made publicly available.
  • In conclusion, the Childers Group expresses a view that while the ACT Government’s ongoing and not insignificant support for the arts is appreciated, the Government’s budget for 2015/2016 is lacking the drive, leadership, and strategic support the sector requires.
  • Strategic and long-term investment in our arts organisations and artists is essential for a smart and healthy modern city.

The Childers Group will provide a link to the Hansard record for the Select Committee on Estimates 2015-2016 when it has been made available.

MEDIA RELEASE: Is the arts side of ACT Budget 2015/16 really ‘Confident, Bold, Ready’?

5 Jun

Might the ACT Government's budget for 2015-2016 put the arts sector at the risk of disintegration?

Might the ACT Government’s budget for 2015-2016 put the arts sector at the risk of disintegration?

The Childers Group congratulates the ACT Government for committing to the refurbishment of the Canberra Theatre in its budget for 2015/2016, but the Group expresses real concern that overall the ACT’s arts sector is going backwards.

‘We appreciate the ACT Government’s recent and projected invested in capital works,’ said Childers Group spokesperson Professor David Williams. ‘However, in terms of funding the arts organisations, arts workers, and – critically – the artists themselves, the budget for 2015/2016 is lacking the drive, leadership, and strategic support the sector requires.’

The Childers Group’s key concerns are:

  • since 2005 the ACT Arts Fund administered by artsACT has not been increased beyond CPI – this means that the Fund is unable to provide the support required by the city’s key arts organisations, which in turn means the ability for the ACT community to engage with the arts is being severely curtailed;
  • the lack of Arts Fund growth also leads to the inability of arts organisations to attract skilled personnel and then retain them over the long-term; and
  • artsACT itself seems to have suffered a $200,000 cut in funding.

The Childers Group’s pre-budget submission can be found here.

‘Recently the ACT Government rebranded the national capital as Confident, Bold, Ready,’ said Professor Williams. ‘Regrettably, in terms of the arts, the 2015/16 Budget does not reflect these goals, as laudable as they are. Strategic and long-term investment in our arts organsiations and artists is essental for a smart and healthy modern city. Canberra deserves consistent investment in its arts sector. Without an appropriate level of investment, the sector will disintegrate – and the community will be all the poorer for it.’

‘NATIONAL PROGRAMME FOR EXCELLENCE IN THE ARTS': A STEP FORWARD FOR OUR SECTOR?

18 May

Minister for the Arts George Brandis has proposed the establishment of the 'National Programme for Excellence in the Arts', which will operate in parallel with the Australia Council for the Arts

Minister for the Arts George Brandis has proposed the establishment of the ‘National Programme for Excellence in the Arts’, which will operate in parallel with the Australia Council for the Arts

On 12 May 2015, the Australian Government revealed its intentions for the 2015-2016 budget. The intentions include the establishment of the ‘National Programme for Excellence in the Arts’, which will operate out of the Ministry for the Arts and be supported by funds previously administered by the Australia Council for the Arts. The proposal has caused concern throughout much of the arts sector, and there have been numerous media reports. The Childers Group’s letter to the Minister for the Arts, Senator George Brandis, is below. The letter has also been sent to other key members of the Australian parliament, as well as key members of the ACT Legislative Assembly. Updates on this issue will be published on this website; you can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Update 1: we have received a letter from Senator for the ACT Katy Gallagher: Senator Gallagher re. arts in budget 2015 – 19 5 15

Update 2: we have received a letter from the Attorney-General (note that the letterhead does not include reference to the arts): AG Office Reply re. NPEA 18 6 16

_

Senator The Hon. George Brandis QC
Attorney-General and Minister for the Arts
PO Box 6100
Senate
Parliament House
CANBERRA ACT 2600

Dear Minister,

National Programme for Excellence in the Arts

The Childers Group advocates for artists and arts organisations in the ACT region, and we are an active member of Arts Peak, the federation of national peak arts organisations that promotes research, policy and industry development, communication and advocacy.

We are writing to seek more information about the proposed ‘National Programme for Excellence in the Arts’, and about your statement to the Senate on 14 May 2015 in which you suggested that organisations other than those funded by the Australia Council will now have improved access to funds from the Australian Government.

In order to better understand the implications of the new program, we seek answers to the following questions:

  • Can the Minister provide further details about the proposed ‘National Programme for Excellence in the Arts’, including its aims and objectives and operational structure?
  • Will applications to this program be subject to arms-length peer review?
  • What is the future of funding for independent artists and smaller projects which drive innovation?
  • Can the Minister guarantee Australia Council funding at current levels for the many small to medium arts companies now at a critical stage in the 6-year grant application process? This will ensure consistency, predictability, stability and sustainability for the small to medium arts sector in the way that it does for the Major Performing Arts sector.
  • Will the Minister guarantee that costs associated with the programs will be borne by the Department, so that these do not come off the top of the programs?
  • What job losses are anticipated at the Australia Council as a result of this proposal?
  • Can the Minister expand on his statement that ‘Arts funding has until now been limited almost exclusively to projects favoured by the Australia Council’? The Childers Group understands that this is what is required by the Australia Council’s charter, especially since it has recently undergone substantial restructuring following an industry-wide review.
  • Was there Cabinet discussion/approval and/or backbench consultation about the new program?

In the absence of concrete information about this significant decision, the Childers Group has refrained from making formal public comment. However, without a detailed explanation of the ways in which the ‘National Programme for Excellence in the Arts’ will be administered and the implications it has for the rest of the Australian arts sector, it will be difficult for the Group to contribute positively to the debate.

We do trust that you can provide the information we have requested.

Yours faithfully,

{signed}

Professor David Williams AM
Spokesperson

SUBMISSION TO THE ACT GOVERNMENT’S REVIEW OF THE ACT ARTS POLICY FRAMEWORK

25 Apr

The ACT region is home to a remarkable diversity of arts practice. (Image of Skywale sourced from WikiCommons)

The ACT region is home to a remarkable diversity of arts practice. (Image of Skywale sourced from WikiCommons)

The following comprises the Childers Group’s formal written submission to the ACT Government’s review of its arts policy, which is currently taking place. It was submitted to the ACT Government on 24 April 2015.

Fair wages for artists and arts workers:

Most Australian artists and arts workers receive very low rates of pay, as evidenced by the Australia Council’s Don’t Give Up Your Day Job: An Economic Study of Professional Artists in Australia study, and regrettably the ACT region is not immune from this problem. In essence, artists and arts workers are rarely recognised as professional service providers. In the ACT, key arts organisations compete with two levels of public service, which are able to pay much higher rates of pay. While it is true that key arts organisations are responsible for setting salaries and pay rates, limited funding and other income means that salaries are rarely able to be pegged at competitive levels, meaning staff leave key arts organisations for the public service, or leave the ACT region entirely. In relation to practising professional artists, we recognise that artsACT has for a long time advocated for publicly funded arts projects to incorporate the appropriate level of artist fees, and we strongly suggest artsACT continues to do so.

Recommendation: the principle of fair rates of payment for artists and arts workers is reinforced in the new arts policy, and that artists and arts workers are recognised as professional service providers.

A regional approach to arts development:

The ACT region is home to a remarkable diversity of arts practice, and for many years ACT artists and arts workers have been moving to the neighbouring areas order to remain in the region (to maintain networks and access to tertiary institutions/facilities etc). This has become especially prevalent as the cost of living increases dramatically in the ACT while adjacent regional communities are able to offer more affordable options, especially in relation to home and workshops/sheds. Recognising the opportunities for artists to better manage their costs by moving to regional communities is one way the ACT will be able to keep artists from moving to the larger cities. The Childers Group acknowledges that the ACT Government, through artsACT, has a long history of recognising artists who live ‘over the border’ and are able to demonstrate a contribution to the ACT community, but this position needs to be reconfirmed and reinforced in light of current economic pressures. Further, there is an opportunity for artsACT and artsNSW to collaboratively develop a funding program that specifically supports cross-border arts relationships and programs.

Recommendation: the ACT Government recognises the value of mutually beneficial relationships between the ACT and neighbouring regional communities, and that through the new arts policy these relationships are recognised, supported, and encouraged.

Ongoing support for practising professional artists through the Project funding category:

The ACT’s key arts organisations are integral to the development of the arts sector, but they cannot provide all the services, support and opportunities that professional practising artists require. Practising professional artists across all sectors are often at the forefront of practice and in turn are high-profile advocates for the region. One of the key sources of financial support is the ACT Arts Fund’s Project funding category. However, over the course of the last 10-15 years the amount of funding available in the Project category has reduced while costs to deliver projects have increased.

Recommendation: the ACT Government commits to ongoing support for practising professional artists through the Project funding category, and investigate ways to increase the level of support available.

Ongoing support of arts service organisations:

Arts service organisations provide professional development opportunities for the sector, facilitate connections, support brokering (business and the arts), and provide links to key partnerships for artists. In the last decade or so, the ACT region has lost a number of such organisations – Muse/Artlook and Canberra Arts Marketing. Service organisations might also be advocates for particular art forms, for example Ausdance ACT and the ACT Writers Centre. Consistent with previous correspondence with the ACT Government on this matter, the Childers Group does not wish to make comment on individual funding decisions. However, the Group is concerned that the ACT region’s arts sector is currently without over-arching organisations and support, despite the ACT Governments policy of arts hubs, and this might be exacerbating a sense of isolation.

Recommendation: the ACT Government recognises the value of arts services organisations, and there be consideration of a funding program specifically designed to support service organisations.

A whole-of-sector approach to arts development:

Currently there is limited communication, relationship and mobility between arts organisations, leading to stagnation in the skills pool, wasting time through duplication of administration tasks such as contract development, and artists and arts workers looking outside the ACT to find their next job. As noted elsewhere in this submission, this situation is occurring despite the ACT Government’s policy of arts hubs, which appears to focus on capital works rather than building whole-of-sector relationships. The arts policy review should consider how artsACT can play a facilitating role in encouraging connections between ACT arts organsitions, either by dedicated funding initiatives, formal professional development opportunities, and/or through informal networking opportunities. (The Childers Group has played a role in this regard, and we will continue to do so, but our resources are severely limited.) There is also a need for government-supported initiatives that can increase the connection between ACT organisations and the national cultural institutions.

Recommendation: a renewed emphasis on facilitating partnerships and communications between arts organisations, and for the ACT Government to assist ACT arts organisations build relationships with the national cultural institutions.

For many years there have been very real barriers between ACT Government directorates and agencies; all ACT Government directorates and agencies should be required to show how each contributes to creating and developing a vibrant arts sector for the ACT community. (Image courtesy of WikiCommons)

For many years there have been very real barriers between ACT Government directorates and agencies; all ACT Government directorates and agencies should be required to show how each contributes to a vibrant arts sector. (Image courtesy of WikiCommons)

Eliminate ‘silo thinking’ within the ACT Government:

For many years there have been very real barriers between ACT Government directorates and agencies – for example, arts organisations who try to develop programs with the Education Directorate are often met with a wall of bureaucracy, complex processes, silence, or a combination of all three. If the ACT Government believes that engagement and participation in the arts are essential and should be at the centre of ACT community life, all ACT Government directorates and agencies should be required to show how each contributes to creating and developing a vibrant arts sector for the ACT community – this should be done through the annual report process.

Recommendation: ACT Government directorates and agencies work collaboratively to develop and deliver arts programs and projects, and that these are formally – and publicly – reported on an annual basis.

Art form development:

While many of the ACT’s key arts organisations actively develop their respective art form, the Childers Group is concerned that art-form development is not emphasised in the current arts policy. The Group suggest that all applicants to the ACT Arts Fund – organisations, groups, and individuals – are required to demonstrate how their proposed activity or activities demonstrably develops art forms.

Recommendation: a renewed emphasis on art form development in all aspects of the ACT Government’s support of arts activity, and specifically through the new arts policy.

Long-term thinking:

The ACT Government does not currently have a stated and publicly available long-term vision of the arts and key questions are not addressed. For example, is the number of key arts organisations expected to grow, reduce, or stay the same? Will organisations be assessed as part of a vibrant arts ecology, or only in comparison to other organisations whose funding is ‘up’ that year? Are organisational mergers planned? How does the ACT Government plan to support a skills base in Canberra that ensures sufficient staff and board members to maintain effective governance and high performance in such a wide variety of organisations? And is artsACT committed to maintaining – ideally increasing – the proportion of the ACT Government budget allocated to the arts and the investment per capita?

Recommendation: the ACT Government takes a long-term – i.e. 10-year – approach to developing the arts and community inclusion and shares that vision with the sector.

Reducing barriers to live music

Live music events continue to be hampered in the ACT. Currently, the deck is stacked against those looking to put on such events and appears to be weighted in favour of residents who make complaints about ‘noise’ associated with such events. Music in its many variations is never going to thrive with the number of restrictions currently placed on putting on an event in the ACT. The Childers Group acknowledges that some of the regulations and rules currently in place are designed to protect organisers and patrons (for example, public liability insurance), but many are unnecessary and seem to shift during the course of trying to put on an event. The Childers Group is aware of at least two local festivals that have recently been cancelled due to the regulations. Musicians and producers of contemporary arts events and festivals have advocated for a more entrepreneurial approach by the ACT Government, especially in relation to relaxing regulations which can be ambiguous and overly restrictive. The vibrant cafe/bar/music scenes that flourish in other major cities are unlikely to flourish in the National Capital unless more sympathetic and smart thinking is applied to reviewing the regulations.

Recommendation: the ACT Governments commits to the importance of live music in the ACT region, and that live-music promoters be provided as much assistance as possible, for example through ‘how to’ guide to putting on an event for emerging promoters.

Retain meaningful peer assessment:

The ACT Government has a longstanding commitment to peer-assessment of applications to the ACT Arts Fund. However, the Childers Group is concerned the ACT Government appears to be moving to a hybrid model where peer assessment is eroded and the sector feels decisions are being made without informed and considered peer input.

Recommendation: the ACT Government recommits to meaningful peer assessment of grant applications, and that this commitment is made explicit in the new arts policy.

Audience development:

Arts organisations, festivals, projects and artists continue to find it a challenge to develop audiences. Further, in these current times when many in the community are struggling due to a compressed economy, arts consumers are carefully considering how they will spend their arts dollar. For organisations and independent producers, audience development and building engagement in the arts requires marketing support and expertise, which in turn needs funding and support. In some ways digital resources such as social media have become essential tools, but they need to be used in an informed manner.

Recommendation: audience development is recognised as a priority and that programs are put in place to assist artists and arts workers increase and diversify their audiences.

Private sector support:

ACT Government support of the arts sector is greatly appreciated but there is a need to increase private-sector support, including through philanthropy. In recent years there has been some support in this regard through organisations such as the local office of the Australian Business Arts Foundation. However, with Abaf becoming Creative Partnerships Australia and closing its ACT office there is currently no support available to organisations or groups who wish to increase private-sector income – this despite the ACT having a healthy corporate sector.

Recommendation: the ACT Government commits to providing professional support to key arts organisations (in the first instance) in order to building private-sector income and support.

We expand our expertise

24 Jan

We’re thrilled to announced that Jack Lloyd and Michael White have joined the Childers Group. Jack and Michael bring valuable knowledge and experience in arts development and management, and together they have a long-standing commitment to arts advocacy locally, nationally, and internationally. They will augment the Childers Group wonderfully, and ensure that we can continue to be strong and informed arts advocates.

JACK LLOYD

The Belconnen Arts Centre's Jack Lloyd joins the Childers Group.

The Belconnen Arts Centre’s Jack Lloyd joins the Childers Group.

Jack Lloyd has worked in the arts in Canberra for 13 years, as an independent theatre producer, venue technical manager and business director. Since its opening in 2009, Jack has worked at Belconnen Arts Centre, a multi-arts venue focused on the creation and presentation of dance, visual arts and music, with an integrated program of community cultural inclusion. As Business and Operations Director, Jack directs the financial and operational aspects of the Centre, with a focus on venue and asset management, strategic planning, budgeting and financial management. Since 2001, Jack has been writing and producing theatre in the ACT as a member of Boho, exploring concepts from contemporary complex systems science through interactive performance. Boho works with scientific and historical organisations to create original theatrical productions, and has presented with partners including CSIRO and the Powerhouse Museum. In 2014, Jack completed his Master of Management (Arts & Cultural Management) from UniSA, and also holds a Bachelor of Arts (Digital Arts) from the ANU.

MICHAEL WHITE

Michael has been involved in the arts as a theatre practitioner and advocate for over 40 years. He studied Drama at Flinders University and graduated with a BA (Hons) in Drama (Performance) in 1973. In 1979 he moved to Canberra and worked as an actor with the Jigsaw Theatre in Education Company and Canberra Youth Theatre. In 1981 Michael moved to the UK and found work in theatre-in-education projects in Wales. In 1983 he returned to Canberra and worked here as a freelance actor and then moved to Melbourne where he worked as freelance film technician with Crawford Television. In 1987 Michael was a co-founder of the Melbourne Workers Theatre, a theatre company that was funded under the Australia Council’s Art in Working Life Policy. In 1989 Michael returned to Canberra where he worked again as a freelance actor and also joined the ACT Arts Council and worked as a Community Arts Officer. Over the years he has worked as a performer with State Theatre Company of SA, Junction Theatre Company (SA), Canberra Theatre Company, People Next Door (ACT) and the ABC. In 1993 he commenced work in Canberra as an Industrial Officer for the Actors Equity Section of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) the trade union that covers performers and all those who work in the media and entertainment industries. (He had joined Actors Equity in 1974.) In 2000 he became ACT Branch Secretary of the union and he left MEAA in July 2014 after 21 years. During his time at MEAA he also served on the ACT Cultural Council, the ACT Government’s arts advisory body.

The Childers Group farewells James Fay and Caroline Stacey, thanks them for their contribution to our work, and wishes them all the very best for the future activities.

Arts review: update

10 Jan

Professor Jacqueline Lo, Professor and Director of the ANU Centre for European Studies, and Acting Director Research School of Social Sciences, ANU

Professor Jacqueline Lo, Professor and Director of the ANU Centre for European Studies, and Acting Director Research School of Social Sciences, ANU

Further to our ongoing advocacy about the ACT Government’s review of its Arts Policy Framework, which is the key document driving how the arts are supported in the ACT region, the ACT Minister for the Arts, Joy Burch MLA, has invited the Childers Group to participate in a Reference Group. The Minister has nominated Childers Group spokesperson David Williams as the Group’s representative.

The letter, which is dated 18 December 2014 and can be founded at Joy Burch MLA to CG re. arts review reference group 18 12 14, states:

…as an ongoing commitment to community participation and engagement, a review of foundations and principles will take place to ensure that it continues to be a relevant and engaged policy.

Other invitees to the Reference Group are:

  • David Broker, director, Canberra Contemporary Art Space
  • Joseph Falsone, director, Ainslie + Gorman Arts Centres
  • Professor Jacqueline Lo, ANU Centre for European Studies
  • Rosanna Stevens [musician, writer, co-founder of Scissors Paper Pen]
  • Gavin Finlay, Music ACT

According to the letter, the first meeting is scheduled for ‘early 2015′. The attached Terms of Reference sheet suggests the review will be complete by ‘mid 2015′.

The Childers Group will continue to advocate for broad and diverse sector consultation beyond the Reference Group.

We note that the letter is an invitation only and the final composition of the Reference Group may not be finalised.

We also note that there continues to be little information about the arts policy review on artsACT’s website. The only reference to the review is: The Framework will be reviewed in 2014 to ensure that it continues to be a relevant and engaged policy.

The Childers Group looks forward to participating in the review.

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).

 

*

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.