The Childers Group 2022-2023 Budget Submission

The Childers Group 2022-2023 Budget Submission

For ten years the Childers Group has been contributing to the development of the ACT budget through ACT Treasury’s budget consultation process.

The Childers Group welcomes the opportunity to provide input into the 2022-2023 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 Federal Government, and the Australia Council for the Arts.

Consequently, what follows is informed, considered, and situated in a national policy context.

Opening Statement:

Covid19 : The Childers Group would like to acknowledge the swift action that the Government took in relation to additional funding made available to the arts throughout the Covid 19 pandemic. The 3 Homefront programs and support given to our Key Arts Organisations was crucial and has been greatly appreciated by the sector.

The Creative Recovery and Resilience (CRRP) Program has also been a very welcome initiative to the sector as it slowly moves out of the initial Covid19 situation.

Minister Cheyne’s Statement of Ambition 2021-2026 has been positively received and the sector looks forward to working with the Minister in bringing the statement to “life”.

We look forward to the announcement by the Minister of the new Arts Policy and the arts organisation funding framework.

A brief summary of our submission.

As the arts sector slowly begins its recovery from Covid the Childers Group acknowledges the Government’s ongoing support for the arts and creative industries.

Canberra one of the most liveable cities in the world. This 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 and surrounding regions, we must be courageous and imaginative in ensuring these opportunities grow with us. As our city has grown the contribution from government to arts funding has not grown to match it.

We strongly recommend that if we are to move forward meaningfully with the Minister’s Statement of Ambition it must be met with increased investment into the arts portfolio. This needs to be for our Key Arts Organisations, our small to medium companies and our individual artists. Research shows that increased investment brings measurable outcomes, not only for the artists and companies concerned but for society more widely.

With the adoption of the ACT Government’s Wellbeing Framework Childers Group believes that the arts can play a central role in bringing the framework into focus and can generate real measurable returns for the arts investment.

What more can the ACT Government do to improve community well-being in Canberra?

The Wellbeing Framework

We note that as of May 2022 there is still no data or comments in relation to the impact of arts and culture in the Framework.

Across the 12 Domains of the Framework the arts can play a significant role. We note that

Research done by the Canberra based arts, creativity and culture research think tank A New Approach (ANA) ( ) clearly shows :

“…when a considered effort is made to direct cultural and creative activities towards improving social cohesion , the impacts are significant including :

  • building feelings of community belonging and trust, enhancing empathy and inclusion
  • help in combating the growing issues of loneliness and isolation.
  • increasing civic participation and making cities, suburbs and regions more liveable
  • help individuals and communities recover from disasters and trauma”.

In relation to building a healthier Australia ANA research has shown that :

  • “engagement with arts and cultural activities reduces health risks particularly for mental health
  • arts and cultural tools have also been successfully used to improve outcomes in terms of both prevention and treatment of physical illnesses and diseases.
  • the arts can improve in-patient outcomes, can improve recovery from long term conditions, can reduce dementia risk and can improve elderly quality of life.”

Community Arts and Cultural work along the lines mentioned above is already being successfully done in programs run by Belconnen and Tuggeranong Arts Centres. This work needs to be expanded.

Where are our arts programs in our prison, our hospitals, our walk-in health centres, our senior citizen homes? Where are our arts programs that work with youth at risk? What are the needs of our Indigenous community and what are they saying is important for their wellbeing and how can the arts assist in that?

Childers Group would argue that in relation to the 12 Domains of the Framework the question should be : How can the Arts be used to reach the aspirations for wellbeing in each area??

What are your top three priorities for the COVID-19 economic recovery?

Every Canberran should have access to the key arts organisations to inspire and engage them. Every Canberran artist should have a key arts organisation that will support them to grow and develop. And every visitor to Canberra should be able to find the key arts organisation that invites them to share in the wonderful cultural life of our city.



The Childers Group notes that the KAO’S funding agreements are being brought into alignment, in 2022, and that this will offer the ACT Government an unprecedented opportunity to maintain a network of key arts organisations that provides comprehensive cultural services to the Territory, across geography, artform and level of practice. Because of the fragility of the arts sector this alignment needs to be done with sensitivity and good consultation.


As result of the ongoing impact of Covid19 the Childers Group encourages the ACT Government to continue to fund the stability of our ACT’s Key Arts Organisations to fulfil their potential and support their sustainable growth.


The Childers Group believes that there still is an ongoing significant decline in ACT arts grants funding on a per capita basis, and as a proportion of funds available to Government. This is also happening on a national basis as reported in the first research paper prepared by the independent arts think tank A New Approach. The paper noted declines in Federal and State Funding to the Arts but noted that the one level where there was an increase was in the Local Council area. Unfortunately, the ACT does not have this “local council level” of funding.

A Post Covid 19 Boost : Special Funding Increase for the Arts Activities Funding – $5000-$50000 sector

The “small to medium” companies and independent individual artist sector of the grants funding process is the engine room for the growth of exciting and new arts activities in the ACT.

These projects reveal where our new artists and our great “new works and companies” are created and it is Childers view that this needs to continue to grow and be funded appropriately.

Involvement and funding should prioritise local artists in major ACT large events, eg. Floriade/Enlighten and other festivals. Opportunity to apply for these should be made earlier and more open for our local artists.


The Childers Group strongly advocates for an increase of an extra $4,500,000 into the Arts Portfolio for the 2022-23 Budget.


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.

No such strategic objective has been stated for the Arts. Cultural Tourism would appear to be an obvious inclusion given the strategic importance and economic benefits of cultural tourism to the region.


Childers Group recommends that the ACT Government establish links between Government Directorates to maximize Arts Development in the ACT and region. Stronger links between arts practitioners (companies and individuals) , Events Canberra and Visit Canberra need to be pursued with some urgency. Tourism and the Arts are a strong area for ongoing development.

The Government should commit to incorporating clear Strategic Objectives for the Arts and Cultural sector within the ACT Government’s Budget Objectives.

The Childers Group looks forward to engaging with government over our Budget Submission in the next few months.

Yours Sincerely

Michael White

On behalf of the Childers Group

May 2022