ACT BUDGET SUBMISSION: what we think should happen in 2016-2017

17 Oct

Craft ACT 2For three years now the Childers Group has been contributing to the development of the ACT budget through ACT Treasury’s budget consultation process. The following is our most recent submission.


The Childers Group welcomes the opportunity to provide input into the 2016-17 ACT Government Budget development process.

The Childers Group is an independent arts forum established in 2011. Our 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 Group has delivered yearly forums, involved MLA representation from the three main political parties, held a variety of meetings with stakeholders such as the Cultural Facilities Corporation, and advocated our ideas with the ACT Government, the Australia Council for the Arts, and the Australian Government. Consequently, what follows is informed, considered, and situated in a national policy context.

What services do you believe are most important for the Territory?

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. The Childers Group reiterates its previous concerns about creating opportunities and resources for key organisations and artists to deliver the cultural services that are central to a vibrant and healthy city.

Recommendation 1

There is a need to provide increased resourcing for the arts in the ACT. Costs for Key Arts Organisations to manage ACT Arts Facilities under license with government are increasing at a rate above CPI, and this should be reflected in an increase in recurrent funding. Failure to keep up with the cost of building management puts downwards pressure on staffing and program resources, threatening long-term sustainability and compromising the ability of these organisations to fulfil their vision of providing arts activity and services that respond to community need.

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.

How can the Government deliver current services more efficiently and productively?

The Childers Group commends the ACT Government for the 2015 Arts Policy and artsACT Strategic Plan, passed this year by Cabinet.

Recommendation 3

Dedicated Indigenous and sector upskilling responsibilities are common within state and federal level arts agencies, and these are not tasks which can or should be managed in spare time. We request that artsACT’s strategies in these areas be adequately resourced to ensure their success, and propose two new officer positions be established:

An Indigenous Engagement Officer position within artsACT to achieve their strategic goals of:

  • connections with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to foster productive partnerships.
  • undertaking a needs analysis of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, arts workers and arts organisations.
  • developing a Reconciliation Action Plan for artsACT.

A Sector Development Officer position within artsACT to achieve their strategic goals of:

  • a needs analysis on sector learning and development.
  • developing a culture of knowledge and individual learning.
  • working with arts organisations on opportunities for critical reflection and arts development.

Recommendation 4

The Childers Group notes that artsACT is to undertake a research and data plan. The Government’s objective should be to ensure that there are no professional arts workers employed by ACT Key Arts Organisations earning less than the average Australian wage. An investment in the salaries of ACT arts workers is an investment in the efficient and productive operation of ACT arts assets. Salaries commensurate with skills and experience ensure the retention of qualified people with necessary expertise, and promote sound management and development of strong policies within the facilities built by the ACT Government.

The research and data plan should include benchmarking salaries of professional arts managers within the ACT against the Community Service sector and with arts personnel in other states and territories.

Craft ACT 1Are there particular services that you consider the Government should stop delivering or perhaps should deliver in a different way?

Currently, the arts are not adequately integrated within policymaking or service delivery at a whole of government level. For comparison, there are existing strategic objectives to achieve ‘higher than average participation in sport and physical and recreational activities’. While the ACT leads our nation in both community participation and attendance at arts and cultural events, it is essential that the benchmark selected by the Government relates specifically to participation and attendance at arts and cultural activities directly supported through programs of artsACT and the Cultural Facilities Corporation.

Recommendation 5

The Government should commit to an inclusive approach to arts integration with the establishment of a relevant and measureable arts benchmark as a strategic objective of the ACT budget.

Craft ACT 3Recommendation 6

In line with ACT Government strategic priorities of enhanced liveability and social inclusion, suburban renewal and health and education investment, the role of the arts in these areas should be recognised with the establishment of officer positions in ACT Government Directorates, including Education and Training, Health, Environment and Planning, and Capital Metro, at the Senior Officer Grade 3 level, to identify and implement strategies where arts activity can multiply existing value and enrich outcomes. In the first instance, this should be a 3-year initiative.

Establishing and consolidating existing links between artists, arts organisations and the stakeholders of each Directorate should be a key component of the work. For example, engagement in the arts throughout a child’s schooling, including early childhood, has immeasurable benefits which are now both quantifiable and proven in countries that have invested in strong arts programs within their schools.

Is there any infrastructure that the Government should consider initiating in the next four years?

Recommendation 7

The Childers Group congratulates the ACT Government on recent refurbishment works at Gorman & Ainslie Arts Centres and Tuggeranong Arts Centre. As advocated by the Childers Group before the Select Committee on Estimates for past two years, with subsequent favourable recommendations by the Committee, we request that the Government fund the final design and build of Belconnen Arts Centre Stage 2. This project has been in development for almost twenty years since initial community consultations and is well past due for completion.

Recommendation 8

Ausdance ACT recently conducted a review of dance facilities in Canberra. The organisation found that over 10,000 people participate in dance in the ACT, with many more enjoying performances as audiences. The Ausdance review found that there is an urgent need for good facilities in the ACT, particularly in Central Canberra, Gungahlin, Belconnen, South Tuggeranong and Weston Creek. Building on the ‘hub’ model, Canberra needs a high-quality dance hub with state-of-the-art facilities. The facilities should be available for shared use between a number of organisations, offering space for independent dance creators and choreographers as well as performers, school workshops etc. The Childers Group commends the review and endorses the recommendations.


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 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, we must be courageous and imaginative in ensuring these opportunities grow with us.


Image credits: taken by Andrew Sikorski at Craft ACT‘s ‘Bogs and Fens’ show, April 2015.

We’ve expanded our expertise and increasing our contribution

2 Oct

Arts finance expert Peter Bayliss joins the Childers Group.

Arts finance expert Peter Bayliss joins the Childers Group.

The Childers Group is absolutely thrilled to have Peter Bayliss join us. Peter brings valuable knowledge and experience in arts development and management, particularly in terms of arts accountancy and budget analysis.

Peter is a Chartered Accountant and Managing Director of Into Tomorrow (Arts Business Services) and First Base Music (Music Artist Services). Peter has been involved in the Australian arts industry for over 20 years in a number of roles including artist management, booking and promotion while also developing his skills in accounting and business through his work across private enterprise, community and arts organisations and government. He has also held board positions with organisations including Music Managers Forum Australia (MMF), Radio 2XX, Australian Association of Social Workers and MusicACT.  Currently Peter is Treasurer for Ausdance National and ACT Screen Investment Association.

The Childers Group is committed to an arts sector that is funded for success and we will continue to advocate for the growth of the ACT Arts Fund so it can meet the needs of artists, arts organisations, and the broader community. Peter’s skills will be especially important to help us meet that objective.


19 Sep

We Should Talk logoCalling all emerging arts leaders in the ACT region – this is your chance to be heard!

We Should Talk is the first in a series of informal networking and discussion opportunities for the ACT region’s arts sector, presented by the Childers Group.

Local emerging arts leaders Jack Lloyd (Belconnen Arts Centre), Rosanna Stevens (Scissors Paper Pen), Yolande Norris (BIG hART) and Michael Bailey (ACT Museums and Galleries) will facilitate discussions that allow you to raise the big issues in arts leadership in the ACT and start to identify new directions for the sector. We want to hear your thoughts on what is important to you – from skills development and career advancement, to balancing work and life and art – and to find answers to the burning questions.

When and where is this happening?

4pm-6pm on Wednesday 30 September at CMAG.

This will also be an excellent time to meet other emerging leaders and build your networks over a glass of wine. Established arts leaders are of course welcome too – come along and meet the kids who will run the joint in a few years.

Admission is free ($10 donations encouraged and gratefully appreciated, at the door), the bar is open (18+ only, sorry) and bookings are essential via Eventbrite.

We can’t wait to meet you!


We Should Talk is presented by The Childers Group and supported by the Cultural Facilities Corporation.

Submissions! Policies! Letters!

18 Jul

Message in a bottle 2Recently it’s been a busier period than usual for the arts – at the national and ACT-region level – and the Childers Group has been doing its bit.

Firstly, at the national level, there is the Senate Inquiry investigating the impact of the 2014-2015 Commonwealth Budget decisions on the Arts, with a focus on investigating the proposed National Program for Excellence in the Arts. Submissions closed yesterday and we understand the Inquiry has received a terrific response from the arts sector (even though arts organisations are stressed enough as it is to spend time preparing critiques of complex policy and funding proposals, and individual artists are flat out, well, making art and trying to earn some kind of practical living). We will be following the Inquiry closely. The Childers Group’s submission is here: THE CHILDERS GROUP – submission to the Senate Inquiry into Arts Funding – 17 7 15

Regarding the proposed National Program for Excellence in the Arts, the Australian Government is calling for sector feedback on the draft Guidelines – we have provided our thoughts (they’re outlined in our submission to the Senate Inquiry). You too can let the Government know what you think, by emailing them on by 31 July 2015.

At the ACT-region level, the ACT Government has announced its new arts policy, together with an economic impact statement for the the arts and a strategic plan for artsACT. These documents can be found here. The policy is sufficiently broad to offer general ideas about how the ACT Government proposes to support the arts over the next few years. However, we suggest that this was an opportunity for a more ambitious document that reflects the uniqueness of our region and galvanizes the sector and the community more broadly about what it means to live and work in a creative city. A summary of our analysis of the arts policy is available on request.

For those interested in some of the issues raised during the consultation process for the new ACT arts policy, there’s a terrific paper prepared by the Cultural Facilities Corporation available here.

Finally, the Childers Group is frequently meeting with members of parliament (at all levels) as we strive to be an active and engaged voice for the arts . As always, should you have any issues that you think we should take up, or ideas for the future, please let us know – by email, Facebook, or Twitter.

Now, who’s giving out free massages?

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.’


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
Parliament House

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,


Professor David Williams AM


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.


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 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.