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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.

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.

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.

ACT Budget 2014-2015: our response

30 Jun

ACT-BudgetThe following is the Childers Group’s response to the arts component of ACT Budget 2014-2015. It follows the structure required by ACT Treasury. Our submission resulted in an invitation to present to the 2014 Estimates hearing, which we accepted and put forward our views on 13 June; the Childers Group was one of only two arts organisations to be involved in the budget process. We’ll post a link to Hansard once the transcript is available. Our original budget input, submitted prior to the ACT Government’s announcement of the 2014-2015 budget, can be found here.

Please list, in order of priority, your three main areas of interest or concern regarding the ACT Budget 2014-2015:

  1. The lack of growth of the ACT Arts Fund – the ACT Arts Fund is the ACT Government’s key arts development mechanism. It supports approximately 20 key arts organisations and a wide variety of programs, as well as groups and individual practicing artists. The Childers Group understands that the Fund receives additional annual funding of an amount that roughly equates to CPI (2.5%), which is ‘passed on in full’ to the key arts organisations. While this modest increase is critical, it is not enough to compensate for the increase in the ACT’s population in recent times. For example, in 2004 the ACT population was 324,000 and it is currently anticipated as 383,000 (source: http://www.cmd.act.gov.au/policystrategic/actstats/population). Therefore, in the space of a decade, there are approximately 60,000 additional people residing in the ACT, many of whom are looking to engage with the city’s arts and cultural sector. What is needed – and the need is becoming increasingly urgent – is a significant funding boost to the ACT Arts Fund, potentially $300,000-500,000, to help cater for the additional demand and the demonstrable increase in costs of delivering arts programs. This would ensure the ACT community has access to a diversity of high-quality arts programs, and that the organisations delivering these programs can do so in a sustainable manner.
  1. The viability and sustainability of the ACT’s key arts organisations – as noted in our budget submission, the Childers Group is extremely concerned about the ongoing viability and sustainability of the ACT’s key arts organisations. These organisations, which are the backbone of the ACT’s arts sector and enable a large proportion of Canberrans to engage with arts and cultural activity, have – in the main – limited staffing resources and stretched programming budgets, all the while trying to meet the forever increasing demand. While many of these organisations have had success in diversifying their income from non-government sources, opportunities are limited in a jurisdiction where the public sector dominates. Additionally, with the recent loss of a local branch of the Australian Business Arts Foundation, and the national refocussing of that organisation into Creative Partnerships Australia, there is now no ACT-based business/philanthropic brokering body to support local arts organisations who are seeking private-sector support. Further, the Childers Group is concerned about the recently announced cuts to the Australia Council for the Arts and the impact this could have on the ability of the ACT’s arts organisations to access federal arts funding. The funding boost to the ACT Arts Fund mentioned above would go some way to addressing these concerns.
  1. Arts in education – the Childers Group remains concerned about the lack of specific funding of arts-in-education programs, as identified in our budget submission. To break the longstanding disconnect between the Education and Arts arms of the ACT Government, what is needed is a specific arts-in-education program to ensure school-aged children have access to a wide range of high-quality programs. The Childers Group has previously advocated for an ACT Arts-in-Education Officer to broker relationships across the ACT Government and between government, schools, and program providers, such as the ACT’s key arts organisations.
  1. ACT Screen Investment Fund – the Childers Group is concerned about the future of the ACT Screen Investment Fund and seeks clarification from the ACT Government about anticipated directions and plans.

What are your views on the ACT Budget in relation to your priority areas?

The Childers Group applauds the ACT Government’s ongoing support of the ACT’s arts and cultural sector. The 2014-2015 budget papers identify a figure of $30.1M being the total investment in 2014-2015 – this is a significant amount for Australia’s smallest state/territory jurisdiction.

However, what is the breakdown of this funding?

The Childers Group understands that $12.743m is invested through artsACT (CSD Output Class 3.2: Arts Engagement 2014-15) and $16.032m through the Cultural Facilities Corporation (CFC Output Class 1: Cultural Facilities Management). However, the 2014-2015 budget identifies that only $8,502,000 of this funding as being dedicated to supporting arts activity. While we note that this is an increase from $8,389,000 in 2013-2014, it is the Group’s understanding that only a maximum of $5M is specifically targeted at arts development – that is, supporting the ACT’s key arts organisations, arts programs, and practicing artists. As noted previously in this submission, this amount had been decreasing in real terms due to the costs of delivering programs and projects.

In addition, there are now significant budgetary pressures on key arts organisations in attracting and retaining skilled personnel, and, in many cases, managing the rising overhead costs associated with maintaining and operating key cultural facilities. All key arts organisations must balance the business/commercial aspects of their operations whilst providing creative engagement for the ACT community. The ACT Arts Fund is no longer able to meet these increasing costs and the community’s demands on the ACT’s key arts organisations.

Are there any other particular issues with the ACT Budget that you would like to bring to the Committee’s attention?

Yes. As mentioned elsewhere in this submission, the Childers Group’s key concern is the lack of real growth of the ACT Arts Fund. The current funding level has fallen behind demand, particularly in terms of the ability of the ACT’s key arts organisation to deliver high-quality and sustainable services but also the ever-decreasing funding available through the Project funding category.

Did you provide a budget submission to the ACT Government?

Yes.

Do you think that the ACT Budget has addressed the issues raised in your submission?

Not entirely.

SUBMISSION: Framing the Future – the NSW Arts and Cultural Policy Discussion Paper

19 Dec

19 December 2013

NSW Arts and Cultural Policy
Arts NSW
PO A226
South Sydney  NSW  1235

FRAMING THE FUTURE – THE NSW ARTS AND CULTURAL POLICY DISCUSSION PAPER

Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the development of Framing the Future, the NSW Government’s Arts and Cultural Policy Discussion Paper.

One of the regular fireshows developed and performed by Goulburn's Lieder Theatre

One of the regular fireshows developed and performed by Goulburn’s Lieder Theatre

The Childers Group is an independent arts forum for the ACT region established in 2011, comprising expertise across all art forms as well as experience working at the regional, territory/state, and national levels.  Since our establishment, the Group has delivered three annual forums attended by over 300 people including representation from the main political parties, held a variety of meetings with major stakeholders such as the Cultural Facilities Corporation and Tourism ACT, and submitted our issues and ideas to the ACT Government, the NSW Government, the Australia Council for the arts, as well as through the media.  In 2012 the Group joined ArtsPeak, the national confederation of 30 key arts advocacy organisations.  For more information visit www.childersgroup.com.au. Consequently, what follows is informed, considered, and situated in a national policy context.

We congratulate the NSW Government for preparing Framing the Future and for seeking community comment.  The document identifies a range of issues, opportunities, and actions, many of which will have significant positive arts and cultural outcomes, particularly in challenging economic times which appear to be ongoing.

However, we wish to raise the following six key areas where we believe the document could be strengthened, and these issues and suggestions should be considered in the development of any NSW arts and cultural development strategy:

  1. Acknowledgment that the ACT forms a part of NSW and plays a significant role in the development of regional areas – for example, data published in Attendance at Selected Cultural Venues and Events, Australia, 2009-10 (ABS) clearly indicates that people living in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory were more likely to visit an art gallery (46% and 30% respectively) or museum (46% and 45% respectively) than those living in the states.  Additionally, we wonder how much discussion there was between the NSW and ACT governments in the development of Framing the Future.
  2. Increased strategic funding relationships between NSW and the ACT, specifically in terms of the arts development of regional communities – there is a clear opportunity for the NSW and ACT governments to work together on an ongoing regional arts development fund to enable mutually beneficial partnerships.  For example, enabling NSW regional artists to access ACT infrastructure, and increasing the capacity of ACT arts organisations to provide services in NSW regional areas.
  3. Recognition of the advantages of artists basing themselves in regional areas due to cost-of-living pressures in the major cities, particularly Sydney, many artists are choosing to move to regional areas to progress their careers.  While there is limited arts infrastructure in these communities, this is somewhat offset by significantly cheaper rent/house repayments and access to digital technologies (noting, however, that access to digital technologies can also be limited).  It should also be recognised that many migrant communities are moving to – or are being settled in – regional communities, with the resultant possibility of rich and diverse arts and cultural expressions and needs.
  4. Many NSW regional towns, such as Braidwood, are significant hotbeds of arts and cultural activity, but access to arts infrastructure is limited.

    Many NSW regional towns, such as Braidwood, are significant hotbeds of arts and cultural activity, but access to arts infrastructure is limited.  Image Source: Destination NSW – Braidwood.

    A commitment to the development of regional arts infrastructure – we note that on page 12 the following vision is stated: Our aspiration is that the depth and diversity of culture across the whole of NSW, from metropolitan centres to regional NSW, is recognised and supported, and that regional communities have access to the state’s cultural experiences and meaningful opportunities for participation and careers in the arts. Whilst we applaud this vision, we note that many regional communities have limited or no arts/cultural infrastructure.  For example, Yass has no cinema, working theatre, or gallery.  Nearby, Goulburn fares better but only in modest terms.  The nearest government-funded arts infrastructure to both communities is in the ACT.

  5. Arts in education – how will regional and isolated NSW communities benefit from the roll-out of the national arts curriculum?  This needs to be better articulated in any NSW arts development strategy.
  6. Arts projects in regional communities – there is a need to significantly increase the funding available for the development of arts projects in regional areas, particularly in remote and isolated communities.  Further, funding of touring productions and investing in facilitators and associated amenities could assist in rural communities accessing and participating the arts.  We note that in regional communities arts activities are often initiated and delivered by an individual with entrepreneurial flair and interest in his/her local community.  Few NSW-funded events/exhibitions reach smaller regional communities, of which there are many.

In relation to regional development, we draw Arts NSW’s attention to recent investment lifestyle attractors, for example seasonal benefits, regional produce, and ‘arts and craft’. There is significant tourism potential in regional areas and there is an opportunity for NSW and ACT government tourism agencies to broker stronger partnerships to develop the visitor economy.

Important: we note that a consultative forum in the regional areas of NSW immediately adjacent the ACT would have enabled these communities to engage with the development of Framing the Future.

The Childers Group is available to meet with Arts NSW to expand on the above points.

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 The Childers Group strongly recommends consideration of increased cooperation between the ACT and NSW for the benefit of both jurisdictions. As our cities, towns and regions change and grow, so too must our thinking in terms of providing opportunities and encouragement for our artists to develop and contribute, and nurturing creativity and social engagement within the wider community.

With this kind of support, the ACT/NSW region will continue its role as a vibrant, engaged, confident and sophisticated part of Australia.

Thank you again for the opportunity to comment on Framing the Future.

[signed]

Professor David Williams
Spokesperson

www.childersgroup.com.au
childersgroup@gmail.com

Note: for more information about Destination NSW, the source for our image of Braidwood, please go here.

ACT BUDGET SUBMISSION 2014-15

1 Nov

Whatever form they take, the arts transform, chronicle and illuminate the world around us.

Whatever form they take, the arts transform, chronicle and illuminate the world around us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

23 October 2013

ACT Budget Consultation
Treasury Directorate
GPO Box 158
CANBERRA, ACT 2601

The Childers Group welcomes the invitation to provide input into the 2014-15 Budget development process. We believe support for the arts is an essential component of any budget.

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.

We note the 2014-15 Budget will continue to the ACT Government’s focus on growing the economy, improving liveability and opportunity, better health and education outcomes, and urban renewal.

Our submission focuses on the contribution the arts sector can play in:

1. Improving liveability and opportunity;
2. Better health and education outcomes; and
3. Further development of infrastructure projects.

1. IMPROVING LIVEABILITY AND OPPORTUNITY

Engagement and participation in the arts contribute to the quality of life.

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 a central and sustainable part of 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 build on that.

Canberra is experiencing the maturation of a wide range of arts activity with a rich and exciting array of events and programs. These activities challenge our perceptions, inspire confidence, and create cohesion in our community.

Significantly, the arts also represent a major attraction for tourists and visitors to Canberra and the surrounding region. We have 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.

Recommendation 1: That the ACT Government considers cultural tourism as a major investment opportunity in the 2013/14 budget.

The arts are also a central aspect of the creative industries, which are drivers in innovation, creating new opportunities for growth in the economy. The Centenary year has generated many new opportunities in this area – opportunities too good to miss.

Many of these opportunities have been initiated through ACT Key Arts Organisations and infrastructure facilities. For example, Crafts ACT: Craft & Design Centre commissioned Canberra designer/makers to design and make a range of Centenary souvenirs involving local manufacturers and skilled staff. The products have proved a very popular success, especially with visitors to Canberra.

Recommendation 2: To ensure the viability of our Key Arts Organisations and key arts facilities, The Childers Group strongly urges the ACT Government to ensure stable funding for ACT Key Arts organisations and arts infrastructure, with CPI increases granted on an annual basis.

There is also the critical issue of superannuation and long-service leave provision. The increase in superannuation up to 12% begins in 2013 and increases steadily over the next five years. This will have an impact on all funding for organisations and one-off projects. The Childers Group notes there are greater long-service leave obligations in the ACT.

Recommendation 3: Funding levels for Key Arts Organisations must be regularly revisited to ensure quality and retention of staff, enabling delivery that is professional and sustainable and that ensures the arts reach the wider community.

Artistic Director/CEO Caroline Stacey and the recently refurbished Street Theatre

Artistic Director/CEO Caroline Stacey and the recently refurbished Street Theatre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Childers Group applauds recent ACT capital works investment in projects such as extensions/refurbishments to the Street Theatre and the Tuggeranong Arts Centre. However, all infrastructure facilities must be complemented by appropriate investment in skilled personnel to ensure the success and viability of the facility.

At present it is difficult to attract, recruit and retain the highly skilled arts managers needed for this task. A key issue in recruiting and retaining arts workers in Canberra is appropriate pay for arts workers. Payment of ACT arts workers’ salaries commensurate with their skills and experience will ensure the retention of qualified people with the necessary expertise to manage Canberra’s arts and cultural services. It will also ensure the sound management and development of strong policies and protocols within the key arts facilities built by the ACT Government.

Recommendation 4: The benchmarking of professional arts workers’ salaries with salaries in the community sector and with arts personnel in other states and territories.

On the question of a fee for service, while the Childers Group considers that the community should make a direct contribution to the arts, there is already a considerable fee-for-service culture in the ACT’s arts sector. For example, most programs and workshops provided by ACT Government-funded key arts organisations have a fee attached, as do membership organisations. However, the Childers Group also acknowledges that fees need to be kept affordable in order to maximise accessibility. It should be recognised that for many communities, participating in arts activities is as much about social interaction as creative production, and these activities should be low cost or free wherever possible, which is consistent with the accessibility theme raised in the Loxton Report.

2. PROVIDING BETTER HEALTH AND EDUCATION

The arts contribute to better health and the quality of education.

Involvement in arts activity, from a young age and within our schools environment, is an important means of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and a sense of wellbeing. Art forms such as poetry and painting help us look differently at our everyday experiences. Literature and film tell the stories that we know or want to know and theatre makes us laugh and cry. Music uplifts and inspires us, and the language of the healthy mind and body speaks to us through dance and movement.

The Childers Group strongly supports the National Advocates for Arts Education **(NAAE) statement about the development of The Australian Curriculum: The Arts and its central principle of the entitlement of every young Australian to an arts education, one that includes all five artforms of dance, drama, media arts, music and the visual arts. 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.

The NAAE** further states that, arts education across all art forms is central to young peoples’ cultural understanding, their ability to express ideas and to problem solve. Education in the arts is the essential means to build a skilful, knowledgeable, arts literate, articulate, healthy and confident generation equipped to deal with 21st Century challenges. The arts play an important role in other parts of the general curriculum: literacy, numeracy, critical thinking, cross-cultural and environmental awareness, social and ethical development’.

The Childers Group welcomes agreement by State and Territory Education Ministers to the curriculum’s final form, and their strong commitment to its implementation.

Recommendation 5: That the ACT Government budgets for implementation of The Australian Curriculum: The Arts and provides the necessary professional development and resources that will enable teachers to deliver the curriculum to every ACT student, from the early childhood years to Year 10.

To support implementation of The Australian Curriculum: The Arts and the links between schools and communities, the Childers Group advocates for the establishment of an Arts-in-Education officer position spread across the Education and Arts portfolios. In the first instance, this should be a three-year initiative. Similar initiatives in other states, for example WA, have proved very beneficial. Establishing and consolidating existing links between artists, arts organisations and schools and the tertiary sector should be a key component of the work. A strong artists-in-schools program also supports the professional development of classroom teachers and provides links between students and practising artists.

Recommendation 6: The establishment of an Arts-in-Education officer position that would build relationships, partnerships and programs between the Education Directorate and the Community Services Directorate. Ideally this should be a Senior Officer Grade C, paid for by the Education Directorate, with the officer spending 50% of time in Education and 50% at artsACT.

Recommendation 7: Continued support for the successful Artists-in-Schools program by providing Key Arts Organisations with a special support fund. This would encourage arts organisations to devise their own residency projects by developing collaborative arrangements with other Government agencies, the private sector, the Australia Council and tertiary institutions.

3. INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS

With quality infrastructure facilities, the arts make a significant contribution to the community and to the economy.

The Childers Group acknowledges the recent ACT capital works investment in projects such as extensions/refurbishments to key arts facilities and the planning for additional cultural facilities. Realisation of the Visual Arts Hub at Kingston is another important initiative taken by the ACT Government that is fully supported by the Childers Group.

Canberra Glassworks

Canberra Glassworks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In terms of additional facilities, the Childers Group particularly recommends investment in professional dance infrastructure in the ACT. Canberra needs a high-quality dance hub with state-of-the-art facilities that could be shared between a number of organisations, offering space for the creation of new work, performances, master-classes, residencies and forums, and opportunities for ACT-trained dance artists to return to the Territory as choreographers, dancers, facilitators and researchers. The Canberra Glassworks complex offers an excellent model for professional practice and community engagement that puts the ACT at the forefront of development of the visual arts.

Recommendation 8: That the ACT Government initially investigates national and international models and then commits to development of a professional dance hub in the ACT that will attract major dance artists to the Territory, particularly the many choreographers, dancers, facilitators and researchers who have initially trained here in Canberra.

SUMMARY
The Childers Group strongly recommends consideration of increased investment in the arts as outlined in this submission. As our city and the region grow and develop, so too must our thinking in terms of providing opportunities and encouragement  for our artists to stay, while nurturing creativity and social engagement within the wider community.

With this kind of support, the ACT region will continue its development as a vibrant, engaged, confident and sophisticated National Capital with strong regional connections and artistic networks.

The next creative generation and the community depend on it.

* artsACT Policy Framework 2012

** NAAE National Advocates for Arts Education Statement, June 2013.

2013-2014 ACT BUDGET SUBMISSION

5 Mar

The Childers Group believes that the 2013-2014 ACT Budget is the most important budget for the regional arts community in a decade.

The Childers Group acknowledges that the ACT Government is a significant supporter of the arts development of the ACT and neighbouring regions.  The Government is the primary financial contributor to over twenty key arts organisations, which enable the community to access a diversity of programs and enable professional artists to progress their careers, many reaching national and international audiences.  The Government also supports individual artists directly through the ACT Arts Fund and its associated programs.

In this Centenary year, we’re experiencing the maturing of much of this activity, with a rich and exciting array of events and programs in which our community and visitors can participate. Therefore, the 2013-2014 ACT Budget is the most important one for the arts in a decade, as it must build on the momentum ignited by the Centenary.

It’s an opportunity too good to miss.

What services does the Childers Group believe are most important for the Territory?*

Air artistA modern and mature society such as the ACT’s deserves ongoing access to a wide variety of arts and cultural programs.  In general, the Childers Group supports the broad intent of the programs delivered by the ACT Government through its two main arts and cultural bodies – artsACT and the Cultural Facilities Corporation.  However, the Group also advocates for ongoing review to ensure that the programs delivered are cost-effective and productive.  Consulting with the arts community is critical in any review process, and the Childers Group is able to assist in this regard. Funding levels must also be regularly revisited to ensure that delivery is professional, sustainable, and reaching the community.

What infrastructure priorities should the Government consider initiating in the next four years?*

  • The realistic support of key arts organisations – ensure that through the ACT Arts Fund CPI continues to be provided to Key Arts Organisations on an annual basis.
  • Appropriate pay for arts workers – ensure that there are no professional arts workers employed by Key Arts Organisations earning less than the average Australian wage of approximately $55,000 per annum. The Childers Group advocates for the benchmarking of professional arts worker salaries with salaries in the Community Sector and with arts personnel in other states and territories. Payment of ACT arts workers’ salaries commensurate with their skills and experience will ensure the retention of qualified people with the necessary expertise to manage Canberra’s arts and cultural services.  It will also ensure the sound management and development of strong policies within the key arts facilities built by the ACT Government.
  • Related to pay for arts workers is the critical issues of superannuation and long-service leave provisions the increase in superannuation up to 12% begins in 2013 and increases steadily over the next five years and will have an impact on all funding, for organisations and one-off projects. The position of arts organisations in relation to retaining staff and meeting ACT long-service leave obligations is also a real and increasing cost attached to the $55 per annum figure mentioned above. The arts have obligations like any other business and if there is a commitment to addressing retention of artists and arts staff in the ACT then there are real costs attached to that – more so than other states e.g. there are greater long-service leave obligations in the ACT
  • Private-sector philanthropy – there is an urgent need for an incentives-based approach that brings together business and arts in the ACT, not necessarily paying an individual to broker relationships but rather developing a suite of strategic benefits for investment by business and individuals in the arts.  We strongly advocate for the ACT Government to provide seed-funding in the first instance.
  • You are hereOngoing funding of the You Are Here festivalYou Are Here is a cross-arts festival showcasing the ACT’s alternative arts and underground culture. It highlights the energy, innovation and talent of Canberra artists past and present, presenting and promoting their work in non-traditional venues, revitalising inner-city spaces and attracting new audiences. The Festival is one of the most tangible outcomes of the build-up to the Centenary and considerable support for its continuation was raised during the Childers Group forums in 2012.  We estimate that the Festival requires a minimum of $150,000 per annum over the next three years to build on its successes to-date and become a regional and state-wide cultural drawcard.  It is essential to showcase the art forms of youth and to engage new audiences with contemporary ideas and arts practice.
  • Increased support for one-off arts activities the ACT Arts Fund’s ‘project round’ supports one-off activities for individual artists and groups of artists to initiate and develop their own independent projects. Key arts organisations provide core infrastructure, but they cannot be ‘all things to all people’, nor do they receive program funding to engage artists on major projects. 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 $250,000 per annum over the next three years.  This is particularly important in building on the momentum of the Centenary celebrations.
  • A dance hub – Ausdance ACT recently conducted a review of dance facilities in Canberra.  The organisation found that the numbers of dancers, particularly in schools and other cultural groups, is under-reported, but statistics indicate over 10,700 people participate in dance in the ACT.  The Ausdance review found that there is an urgent need for good facilities in the ACT.  Building on the ‘hub’ model, Canberra needs a high-quality dance hub with state-of-the-art facilities.  The facilities could be shared between a number of organisations, offering space for schools, classes, and our independent dance creators and choreographers as well as performers.  Locations that are currently under-serviced and would be suitable sites include: the inner sections of central Canberra, Gungahlin , Central Belconnen, South Tuggeranong, and Weston Creek. The Childers Group commends the review and endorses the recommendations.
  • A world-class artist-in-residence program – The ACT region has all the ingredients to offer a world-class artist-in-residency program for all art forms: a planned and accessible city, a seat of modern democracy, a suite of national cultural institutions, over twenty key arts organisations, nationally recognised tertiary education providers, a vibrant urban environment surrounded by natural beauty and pastoral landscapes, a network of country towns, and a diverse and engaged population.  Artist-in-residency programs offer time and space to create, but also help to bring in national and international artists to work with local artists and the community.  Recently the ACT Government developed a policy statement and tool kit, along with a small amount of funding for 2011/2012 and 2012/2013.  The Childers Group strongly advocates for ongoing funding of $200,000 over the next four years in order to fully realise the potential of the program.
  • Significantly enhanced arts-in-education services the establishment of an Arts-in-Education Officer position would build relationships, partnerships and programs between the Education Directorate and the Community Services Directorate. Ideally this should be a Senior Officer Grade C, paid for by the Education Directorate, with the officer spending 50% of time in Education and 50% at artsACT. In the first instance, this should be a 3-year initiative. Similar initiatives in other states e.g. WA, have proved very beneficial. Establishing and consolidating existing links between artists, arts organisations and schools and the tertiary sector should be a key component of the work. 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.
  • Improved arts publicity and promotion services – the arts are an important tourist attraction in Canberra. To increase publicity for the arts there needs to be a specific ACT Government program to ensure closer liaison between the arts sector-local and national, and ACT Tourism.  We are seriously missing out on creative marketing that effectively and powerfully links the cultural attractions and food and wine trails of our region. This has been done to great effect in Victoria and Tasmania.  The Childers Group believes that with a more strategic approach cultural tourism could be strengthened in our region.
  • A whole-of-government service approach to arts development encouraging all directorates and agencies to examine ways in which they may directly or indirectly support the arts would enhance cultural life in CanberraFor example, potential exists for the development of collaborative arts arrangements with health, education, and heritage.  To make this a reality, the Childers Group recommends the creation of specific position within the ACT Government to facilitate connections and multi-directorate programs and projects.
  • Building creative partnerships with the regions – in many ways the ACT not only services the arts and cultural needs of its own citizens but also those who live in the neighbouring regions.  The regions have their own strengths and challenges, but greater partnerships between the ACT and the regions would result in deeper and more diverse opportunities; additionally, it would further cement this part of Australia as one of the most creative, leading to an increase in cultural tourism.  The Childers Group advocates for the establishment of a specific Regional Partnerships Fund at $100,000 per annum over the next three years and to be delivered by artsACT in close consultation with the regional arts development offices such as Southern Tablelands Arts (STARTS) and South-East Arts Region (SEARS).

Should the Government maintain its current suite of services?*

Yes, the ACT Government must maintain its current suite of arts and cultural services.  However, it should also investigate ways of improving the services to maximise their reach into the community and ensure that artists are receiving the support needed.  Funding realistically is the key, as is ensuring organisational sustainability and growth.

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

In broad terms, the Childers Group supports the notion of arts hubs – co-locating similar organisations to rationalise administrative costs, to increase community access, and create an overall sense of vibrancy.  However, we also believe that arts hubs are more appropriate to some art forms than others – for example, dance (as mentioned above) and visual arts at the Kingston Foreshore – and that in some instances co-locating dissimilar organisations may also have positive results – for example, co-locating the ACT Writers Centre with ScreenACT may result in positive synergies.  The Childers Group strongly advocates that there is more work to be done to realise the potential of arts hubs work, particularly in terms of sector commitments versus individual organisation commitments.

Are there any services the Childers Group considers that the community should make a direct contribution to (a fee for service)?*

Matt Ellis CollectiveThere is already a considerable fee-for-service culture in the ACT’s arts sector.  For example, most programs and workshops provided by the ACT Government-funded key arts organisations have a fee attached, as is membership of organisations.  In general, the Childers Group supports a fee-for-service approach, but also acknowledges that fees need to be kept affordable in order to maximise accessibility.  It should be recognised that for many communities participating in arts activities is as much about social interaction than creative production and these activities should be low-cost or free wherever possible, which is consistent with the accessibility theme raised in the Loxton Report.

The recent initiative of the ACT Government in supporting six Community Cultural Inclusion Officer positions to engage our community in creative activities is an important step in helping address access.  Skilled facilitators are essential for inclusive community cultural development.

The ACT leads our nation in both community participation and attendance at arts and cultural events. The Childers Group strongly recommends consideration of increased investment in the arts as outlined in our submission. As our city and the region grow and develop, so too must our thinking in terms of providing opportunities and encouragement for our artists to stay, and nurturing creativity and social engagement within the wider community.

With this kind of support, the ACT region will continue its development as a vibrant, engaged, confident and sophisticated National Capital area.

The next creative generation depends on it.

If you would like to provide feedback on the Childers Group’s 2013-2014 ACT Budget submission, please email us childersgroup@gmail.com or engage with us through Facebook or Twitter.

* Questions asked by ACT Treasury

THE NEED FOR VISION: our response to the draft ACT Arts Policy Framework

31 Mar

The recently released draft ACT Arts Policy Framework supersedes Arts Canberra: Action Statement for the Arts 2006-2008 and, we assume, related documents such as the ACT Action Statement for Public Art (May 2007).

The draft document proposes four goals together with brief dot-points indicating how these goals will be achieved.  The stated goals are to:

  1. increase community access and participation;
  2. support artistic excellence and artistic diversity;
  3. strengthen capacity of the arts to contribute to social and economic outcomes; and
  4. foster artistic innovation, creative thinking and sustainability.

The Childers Group appreciates the development of the draft ACT Arts Policy Framework and that it has been made available for public comment.

However, the Group believes the final Arts Policy Framework should be one that befits the capacity of the sector: it should be confident about its purpose and how it will contribute to arts development, and it should have a clearly articulate vision that energises arts activity, particularly in the context of the Centenary of Canberra.

More specifically, the Childers Group advocates for an arts policy framework that:

  • establishes the principles that will guide arts/cultural priorities and programs;
  • acknowledges the strengths of the sector, and the challenges ahead;
  • contains bold ideas for the future;
  • strongly advocates the importance of access and participation in the arts and the value of the arts and cultural life in our community;
  • promotes the notion of the intrinsic value of the arts while seeking to involve and engage with a wider constituency for mutual benefit;
  • makes a commitment to support for artists who are taking risks with new and innovative arts practice;
  • places emphasis on a whole-of-Government approach to policies and programs designed to support arts and cultural development;
  • includes a public art commissioning program (or the percent-for-art scheme);
  • develops stronger links and relationships with ACT Tourism and related agencies and the national cultural institutions to create opportunities for the arts;
  • indicates a time-frame for the life of the policy;
  • acknowledges that leadership in setting appropriate payments to artists and arts workers is crucial to arts viability and a sustainable future;
  • recognises that festivals, feature events, celebrations and other special anniversaries represent important opportunities for arts and cultural development;
  • supports arts opportunities available by developing co-operative arrangements with the University, College and School education sector, heritage facilities and services;
  • promotes the benefits of private support and working arrangements with the corporate sector both in terms of projects, commissions, sponsorship and philanthropy;
  • builds on relationships with the surrounding regional communities;
  • is committed to supporting key arts organisations, which are central to the vibrancy and life of our city and the region;
  • is written in clear and active language to maximise communication and effectiveness.

The Childers Group sees the 2010 Review of the Arts in Canberra (Loxton Report) and other relevant national documents, including the 2011 National Cultural Policy Discussion Paper, the Forward Plan for Contemporary Australian Art (Sept 2010) and the Dance Plan 2012, as useful references in preparing a policy for arts.

The Group would welcome the opportunity to contribute to the further development of the ACT Arts Policy Framework.

*

artsACT’s closing date for comment on the ACT Arts Policy Framework is 10 April 2012.

THE NEXT GENERATION DEPENDS ON IT: 2012-2013 ACT budget submission

10 Mar

Min Mae

SUPPORT FOR THE ARTS IS AN ESSENTIAL COMPONENT OF ANY GOVERNMENT BUDGET

Introduction:

Formed in November 2011, the Childers Group welcomes the opportunity for community input into the 2012-2013 ACT Budget development process.

Comprising a group of ACT and region experienced arts leaders, the Childers Group is a new voice for the arts.  It is an independent forum committed to the long-term viability and vitality of the arts in the ACT and surrounding areas.  It involves recognised individuals from diverse backgrounds including the visual arts, music, dance, film, theatre and performing arts, youth arts, community arts and literature.

The Childers Group interests and activities are based on the principles of:

  • objectivity;
  • independence; and
  • pride in Australia’s national capital city, Canberra.

General:

  • The Childers Group acknowledges that since self-government the ACT Government has been the main financial supporter of the arts in the Territory.
  • The ACT Government’s Arts Fund is the major ongoing support mechanism for the arts in this region.
  • The Arts Fund supports 22 Key Arts Organisations that form the backbone for the employment of arts workers and much of the arts activity in the ACT and region.
  • Key Arts Organisations are the basis for the development of professional arts practice and the presentation, production, performance and exhibition of this work.
  • Key Arts Organisations provide the main ways ACT and residents in the region access the arts. This involves attendance at exhibitions and performances and participation in a variety of classes and workshops. It also includes programs for people with special needs such as youth at risk, the indigenous, multicultural groups and people with disability.
  • The Arts Fund is also under pressure as a result of the increased number of arts facilities, and costs associated with the overall sound management and operational overheads increase each year.
  • The level of funding available through the Arts Fund must be sustained and allowed to grow, at the very least to match CPI.

Elizabeth Cameron Dalman

Advocating the arts in Canberra:

  • The Childers Group advocates the importance of access and participation in the arts and the value of the arts and cultural life in our community.
  • The arts are a major part of the way we see ourselves and contribute to our sense of place and self esteem.
  • The arts inject colour into our lives and contribute positively to many facets of community life.
  • The arts and design influence the way we think about the natural and built environment, how we regard the household articles we use, and what determines the traditions we preserve.
  • The arts foster cohesion and the expression of a community identity.

Why arts services important in Canberra:

    1. Participation in the arts fosters a sense of community, promotes mental health and well being and reduces pressures of a competitive, materialistic society (Mackay: Advance Australia Where?)
    2. Canberra’s creative artists and Key Arts Organisations are central to the vibrancy and life of our city.
    3. Galleries and museums, libraries, theatres and performance spaces, artists’ studios, workshops and cinema facilities provide essential services for the ACT and exist as the ‘common good’ for the whole community.

The presence of these facilities, services, events and activities is a measure of Canberra’s life-style, confidence and sophistication.

Boho Interactive

Arts Funding Priorities for the ACT Budget recommended by the Childers Group:

  1. CPI – ensure that through the ACT Arts Fund CPI continues to be provided to Key Arts Organisations on an annual basis.
  2. Arts Worker Salaries – ensure that there are no professional arts workers employed by Key Arts Organisations earning less than the average Australian wage approximately $55,000 pa. The Childers Group advocates benchmarking professional arts worker salaries with salaries in the Community Sector and in arts personnel in other States and Territories. Payment of ACT arts workers’ salaries commensurate with their skills and experience will ensure the retention of qualified people with the expertise to manage Canberra’s arts and cultural services.
  3. Increase allocation to the ACT Arts Fund’s Project Funding category – these funds support one-off activities for individual artists and groups of artists to initiate and develop their own independent projects. This acknowledges that while Key Arts Organisations provide core infrastructure, they cannot be “all things to all people”, nor do they receive program funding to engage artists on major projects. The Project Funding category is supporting fewer projects each year due to the ever increasing costs of delivering arts projects. The Childers Group advocates for this category to receive additional funding of $250,000 per annum over the next three years.
  4. Arts in Education create an Arts-in-Education Officer position to build relationships, partnerships and programs between the Education Directorate and the Community Services Directorate. Ideally this should be a Senior Officer Grade C, paid for by the Education Directorate, with the officer spending 50% of time in Education and 50% at artsACT. In the first instance, this should be a three-year initiative. Similar initiatives in other States e.g. WA, have proved very beneficial. Establishing and consolidating existing inks between artists, arts organisations and schools and the tertiary sector should be a key component of the work.
  5. Arts in Heritage allocate specific funds for ACT Heritage Unit to engage professional practicing artists to creatively interpret ACT Heritage sites. The outcomes will be greater community engagement, appreciation and use of heritage assets and mean professional artists are employed in sectors outside the arts.
  6. Following on from 6 above, adopt a Whole-of-Government approach encouraging all directorates and agencies to examine ways in which they may directly or indirectly support the arts and cultural life in Canberra. Potential also exists for the development of collaborative arts arrangements with Health and Sport.
  7. Artists-in-Residence develop the success of existing artsACT residency funding and provide a program for a Key Arts Organisation Artist–in-Residence Support Fund. This would encourage arts organisations to devise their own residency projects by developing collaborative arrangements with other Government agencies, the private sector, the Australia Council or tertiary institutions.
  8. ACT Arts Partnership Fund –create a fund where the ACT Government dollars are matched by the private sector to assist arts partnerships. Available to both individual artists and arts organisations, this initiative could commence with $300,000 per year over three years to be matched dollar-for-dollar by the private sector. A good example exists in Tasmania with assistance from ABaF. For more information see http://www.arts.tas.gov.au/funding/grants/premiers
  9. Public Art – reintroduce a percentage of capital infrastructure allocation to establish a Public Art Fund available for public art commissions and acquisition of art works.
  10. Publicity and promotion – the arts in Canberra are an important tourist attraction. To increase publicity for the arts, ensure much closer liaison between Canberra’s arts sector and the ACT Tourism and the national capital cultural institutions.
  11. Research – increase the research capacity of artsACT by establishing a Senior Officer Grade C position as a three-year initiative. Work in this position would enable increased capacity to undertake much needed research to support ACT arts policy development, communicate and explain the basis of research findings and rationale for the arts and cultural development initiatives proposed.

The ACT leads our nation in both community participation and attendance at arts and cultural events. The Childers Group recommends consideration of increased investment in the arts as outlined in our submission.

With this kind of support, Canberra will continue its development as a vibrant, engaged, confident and sophisticated National Capital and adjacent region.

The next creative generation depends on it.

QL2 Centre for Youth Dance