Archive | December, 2014

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

20 Dec

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

Dear Ms Burch,

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

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

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

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

Image source: Ausdance ACT

Image source: Ausdance ACT

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours faithfully,

Professor David Williams
Spokesperson

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

Arts review: update

20 Dec

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

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

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

ACT arts review: more info please

6 Dec

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

 

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24 November 2014

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

Dear Ms Burch,

ACT ARTS POLICY FRAMEWORK REVIEW

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

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

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

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

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

However, we have questions about the review process:

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

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

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

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully,

Professor David Williams
Spokesperson