ACT Election Forum – fast approaching

8 Feb

Tickets are selling fast for this important discussion with our ACT arts colleagues and political representatives. For more info – take a look at our media release.

Feb 3 2016 MR

ACT Election 2016: when we’re all in one room we can make things happen…for everyone.

29 Jan

This year the ACT community will be voting for who will form government for the next 4 years. How can we make sure that those standing for election value the arts and have meaningful arts policies? The Childers Group does this by getting the three main political parties in one room, asking for visions and policies to be put forward, and calling for questions from the floor. We did exactly that in 2012 and we were thrilled with the interest from the community and the engagement of the political parties. So we’re doing it again – this year with a special panel to lead the questions.

BOOKINGS ESSENTIAL.

We look forward to seeing you!

CHILDERS GROUP - ACT election arts forum - invitation - WP

…and then it was 2016 and your connections grew and your voice became even louder.

16 Jan

Woman with megaphoneHappy New Year. This one’s going to be big.

There’s the ACT election, where the Assembly will be increasing from 17 to 25 members, and a party who’s been governing for many years will be up against one that’s chomping at the bit. Will the main political parties prepare arts policies? If so, how informed will those policies be and what impact would they have on the ACT region? And what about the minor parties and the independents? Some very interesting election commentary from Jack Waterford, former editor of the Canberra Times, can be found here.

Then there’s the federal election, which might not directly affect the arts in our region, but with the recent changes to the funding of the Australia Council and the establishment of the centralised Catalyst funding program it will still be very, very fascinating indeed.

As always, the Childers Group will be working hard to be an articulate, informed and engaged voice for the arts in our region, and one of the key ways we do that is through holding forums.

Frankly, we want – and need – your involvement.

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MentoringOur first forum for the year, Aspects on Mentoring, will be held from 5:30-7:30pm on Thursday 28 January at Canberra Museum and Gallery. Learn more about mentoring and hear from mentorees and their mentors about their experiences, in an open and frank discussion around finding the right person, and working out how to work best together. Then you’ll have a rapid-fire opportunity to meet potential mentoring partners, share your stories, and maybe kick off something special. This will also be an excellent time to meet other emerging and established leaders in the arts in the ACT, and build your networks over a glass of wine.

Admission is free, bookings are essential.

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Then, on Wednesday 24 February at Gorman Arts Centre, we’ll be holding Vision and Support: What’s planned and what’s needed for the arts in the ACT region? Come and participate in this forum/debate and help spark a public conversation about the arts in the lead up to the 2016 ACT election!

The details are as follows:

TIME: 5:30pm-7:30pm

PRESENTERS: Dr Chris Bourke MLA (ACT Labor), Shane Rattenbury MLA (ACT Greens), Brendan Smyth MLA (ACT Liberals)

PANEL: Paul Daley, Helen Ennis, Chris Endrey, Jenni Kemarre Martiniello

MC: Genevieve Jacobs, 666 ABC Canberra

VENUE: Main Hall, Gorman Arts Centre, Braddon

COST: $10 and $5 concession to help cover costs

RSVP and payment: via EventBrite by 5pm Monday 22 February. (For those who don’t wish to make an online payment, please call 6182 0000.)

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With much thanks to our venue partners, Canberra Museum and Gallery/Cultural Facilities Corporation and Ainslie + Gorman Arts Centres.

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Keep in touch with these events, and other Childers Group activities, via Facebook and Twitter.

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.

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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.

Summary

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.

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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.

WE SHOULD TALK!

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!

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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 nationalexcellenceprogram@arts.gov.au 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.’

‘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

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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