Our work

Please note this list is intended to provide a summary of the Childers Group activities to-date, and is not a complete list of all the work we do.


  • We have had our first meeting for the year with Arts Minister Tara Cheyne :
  • Areas covered included her Statement of Ambition and the development of a new arts policy (our last policy is from 2015). This process will be driven by artsACT and will include targeted and detailed consultation with the arts sector, KAO’s, education institutions, ACT Business. It is hoped that the process will be concluded over 6 weeks. The Minister’s Creative Council has new members and they will play a strong role. The Minister asked Childers to look at possible vehicles that could assist in delivering her Statement of Ambition ( well received by the arts sector ) with a particular focus on Strategy 3 : Promoting our Arts and Culture.
  • Minister Cheyne mentioned that this year’s ACT Budget will be brought down on 2nd August and urged ACT artists and organisations to give their input through the Have Your Say webpage.
  • 2022-23 Budget Consultation – https://yoursayconversations.act.gov.au/2022-23-budget-consultation
  • We have also met with Jo Clay, Greens arts spokesperson and had a wide-ranging discussion about issues facing the arts coming out of Covid19 and lockdown. Jo also stressed the importance of artists and organisations partaking in the Budget Consultation process as mentioned above. She stressed that the short Budget Survey is an excellent and quick way to get involved.

Our work in 2021 :

  • we met with Arts Minister Tara Cheyne, Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee, Shadow Arts Minister Lawder, Greens arts spokesperson Jo Clay plus Assembly members : Michael Pettersson, Mark Parton, Peter Cain and Jonathan Davis
  • we attended regular monthly meetings of The Canberra Region Tourism Leaders Forum : https://www.tlforum.com.au/tourism-advisory-forum
  • continued our meetings with Kate Fielding, CEO of A New Approach ( national arts and culture think tank based here in Canberra) https://newapproach.org.au/
  • continued meeting with the Chair of the Ministers Creative Council
  • lodged our Budget Submission with ACT Government for the 2021-2022 budget ( Childers has been doing these submissions since 2013)
  • continued our strong partnership with the Cultural Facilities Corporation
  • continued liaison with Music ACT
  • Childers members have played an active role in the Canberra Artists Action Group (CAAG)
  • Childers members have played an active role in National arts advocacy
  • Lobbied federal politicians around issues with Jobkeeper and Jobseeker programs


2020 : What a year and in to 2021: Childers Group Report

2020 will no doubt go down as one of the most difficult for Canberra and Region arts workers. Covid-19 virtually closed down our sector locally and nationally. Many lost not only their “arts jobs” but also their other jobs they might work in to pay the bills.

Canberra Artists Action Group (CAAG) reformed during this period and weekly zoom meetings were held to give advice and assistance to artsworkers. This was extremely helpful for the sector and Childers members played an active role in those meetings.

Childers also lobbied and advocated for the arts to our local ACT Arts Minister, our federal local politicians and took part in national meetings of various arts advocacy bodies. One of the best outcomes was the introduction of the Homefront Arts Grants ($500k) by the ACT Government and the Arts Minister. ACT was one of the first governments to produce an arts rescue package as part of their overall economic plan ($1.5million) and for that quick response the sector was extremely grateful. They also offered considerable support to our Key Arts Organisations. Childers would also like to thank staff at artsACT for all the fantastic work they did during 2020.

In the lead up to the ACT election Childers Group organised its traditional arts election forum. We have done this for the past 3 elections. It was held via Zoom and was extremely well attended ( over 100 people ) and gave members of Labor, the Greens and Canberra Liberals an opportunity to propose their election platforms.

As a result of the election the Arts Minister for the previous Assembly, Gordon Ramsay was not re-elected. Childers believes that Gordon did a fantastic job in his arts portfolio and we will miss our regular meetings with him. We thank him for his service and thank him for his strong advocacy for the arts over the past 4 years.

We welcome new Arts Minister Tara Cheyne and look forward to building a strong relationship with her. ( We have already met with her in early December and had a very positive meeting.)

Childers has already begun our advocacy work with the new assembly members and have had meetings with Jo Clay and Jonathan Davis (Greens), Nicole Lawder (Shadow Arts Minister), Mark Parton and Peter Cain ( Canberra Liberals ) and Michael Pettersson (Labor). Our advocacy plan for the first part of 2021 is to meet with all the new Assembly members.

Childers will also continue advocacy with our Federal Parliamentary members. There is a desperate need to develop a National Cultural Policy.

Childers is also planning an arts forum this year in conjunction with the Cultural Facilities Corporation. More on that to come.

Many challenges still lie ahead for the arts sector as we slowly emerge from Covid19. If anyone has thoughts, ideas, suggestions then please contact Childers on :




Apart from our normal advocacy work ( lobbying local and federal politicians, attending the ACT Tourism Forum ) our major work for the year was our Arts Forum

Childers Group and Cultural Facilities Corporation Arts Forum  

Friday, 1 November 2019, 3.30pm – 5.30pm : Drinks, 5.30pm-6.30pm


Theatrette @ the Canberra Museum and Gallery (CMAG), London Circuit, Civic

Cost : $15.00

Join the Childers Group (with support from the Cultural Facilities Corporation), Professor David Throsby and a local panel that includes novelist Nigel Featherstone; theatre maker and musician Chrissie Shaw; contemporary Indigenous artist Krystal Hurst and dance artist and choreographer Alison Plevey. The forum will be moderated by CFC Board member Genevieve Jacobs. We will try and answer some important questions:

What does a sustainable arts practice mean/look like to our guest speaker and panelists? How does the “arts business” affect the “arts practice”?

Guest speaker: David Throsby AO is a distinguished Professor of Economics at Macquarie University, internationally recognised for his research and writing on the economics of art and culture. Professor Throsby’s research interests include the role of culture in economic development, the economic situation of individual artists, the economics of the performing arts, the creative industries, the economics of heritage and the relationship between cultural and economic policy. Some of his recent works include Making Art Work, Don’t Give Up Your Day Job, Do You Really Expect to Get Paid? (all reports for the Australia Council) and his Currency Press Platform Paper (May 2018) Art, Politics, Money: Revisiting Australia’s Cultural Policy.

We live in dangerous times: climate change, the impact of social media, fake news, the gig economy, wage theft, deregulation, privatisation, cutbacks on arts funding, globalisation, stagnant global economies, refugee policies, indigenous sovereignty, #metoo and the rest!

In his 2018 paper Art, Politics and Money Professor Throsby writes: “How can it be that [artists] who contribute so much to our cultural life are so poorly rewarded? …. The arts labour market does not price in a component for the public good that the work of artists provides …. Artists are the creative labour force in the cultural industries. From this perspective they may be seen as industrial workers – low paid, unrepresented, condemned to rely on a series of short-term contracts, leading precarious economic lives, obliged to bear the risks offloaded on them by their corporate paymasters. Alternatively, they can be seen as self-starting entrepreneurs at the forefront of the new economy, developing new technologies, leading in digital innovation, finding ways to apply their creative skills, not just to the production of art but in a range of other areas as well.

[Artists] are the source of the talent and the creativity that makes art happen and that keeps the cultural sector alive and growing. It is abundantly clear that the situation of the individual artist in Australia today must remain a central concern for cultural policy.”

We will ask Prof. Throsby to expand upon this in his recent work and get his perspective on survival for artists, and to interact with our panel of local artists attempting to answer some of these questions.  Join us for networking with others at the end of the forum with drinks and nibbles (5.30pm – 6.30pm).

For the Childers Group, contact : childersgroup@gmail.com



The Childers Group had a very busy 2018 carrying on it’s advocacy work on behalf of the arts and artists in the ACT and Region.

During 2018 we continued with our lobbying of ACT Legislative Assembly Members and our Federal Parliamentary Representatives. We also met with the Arts Minister, Mr Gordon Ramsay during the year.

Other Childers activities included : attendance at artsACT and City Renewal seminars and workshops, regular attendance at the new ACT Tourism Forum and meeting with the new ACT International Commissioner, Mr Brendan Smyth.

So far in 2018 we have had a productive meeting with VisitCanberra.

We also played an active role in community consultation for the 2019/2020 ACT Budget with our annual budget submission.


  • A Disappointing end to 2016 The announcement (five days before Christmas) of a 66% reduction in 2017 Project Funding for arts projects rocked the arts community. An extensive advocacy program resulted. Michael Sollis (convenor) along with 40 artists and members of the Childers Group met at the Street Theatre on 22nd December and arranged a delegation to meet with the Minister. Coming out of that meeting a letter signed by 60 independent artists was sent to Minister Ramsay.
  • The Childers Group also wrote to Minister Ramsay and the Chief Minister. In it we said “The Childers group believes it is essential that individual artists and groups continue to receive an appropriate level of ACT Government funding if we are to see innovative, professional and engaging arts flourish in, and add considerable value to, Australia’s national capital. This reduction in funding is unfathomable and unwise. It runs counter to all the positive goals the government is striving for in our region. Please consider an urgent review of this decision.
  • A Positive outcome to the Funding cut : The Childers Group met with the Minister in late January and overall it was a constructive meeting. Many issues were covered. He made a strong commitment to honour the Labor election promises, so we can expect to see the $750k in this year’s budget. On the 1st February the Minister announced a further $230,000 had been allocated to the Project Funding Round. There is no doubt that the action taken by the ACT Arts Community has led to this outcome. We congratulate all those concerned. Also congratulations to Minister Ramsay for making this positive step forward in his new portfolio.
  • As part of our general arts advocacy program for this year the Childers Group is planning to meet with all the new Assembly MLA’s over the first half of this year. We have had positive meetings already with Vicki Dunne ( Liberal ) and Caroline Le Couteur ( Greens), Alistair Coe ( Liberal Opposition Leader), Tara Cheyne, Suzanne Orr, Bec Cody, Michael Petterson, Chris Steel ( Labor ), Andrew Leigh ( Federal Labor) and Katy Gallagher ( Federal Labor)
  • In June members of the Childers Group appeared before the ACT Assembly Budget Estimates Committee. Our budget submission can be seen at : https://www.childersgroup.com.au/act-budget-submission-what-we-think-should-happen-in-2016-2017/
  • In July in conjunction with the Cultural Facilities Corporation we held a very successful Arts Value Forum. Over 100 attendees heard inspiring talks from some of our local and national Arts Leaders.
  • The work by the Childers Group will continue as no doubt, will the strong advocacy of independent artists and arts workers across the ACT and our region.


  • As 2016 was an Election year the Childers Group held a very successful Election Forum at Gorman House in February. Representative from all major parties attended.
  • The Childers Group lodged its Budget Submission for 2016-2017.
  • The Childers Group had put together an analysis of the past 12 years of arts grants in the ACT and the trends within different funding types. This analysis shows that over this time stretching over three full electoral cycles, there has been a significant decline in ACT arts grants on a per capita basis, and as a proportion of funds available to Government. This analysis is drawn from over 1,500 grant entries in ACT Government annual reports, copied and sorted by grant type. The full analysis and notes are available for download in excel format here– we invite any corrections or further contributions, comments below, or contact us on childersgroup@gmail.com or through Facebook. On Friday 17 June, Childers Group members Jack Lloyd and Michael White appeared in front of the ACT Legislative Assembly Select Committee on Estimates 2016-17 to deliver this analysis. We have requested an immediate increase of $500,000 in new funding to the project grant round to arrest the significant decline in this area, and we urge the ACT Government and all parties seeking representation in the Assembly in the 2016 Election to commit to a restoration of arts grant funds to previous effective levels.
  • In October, The Childers Group coordinator, Jack Lloyd, posed 5 questions to 3 of the potential candidates for the Arts portfolio in the ACT Election. Their responses are available for viewing on our public Facebook page.
  • Throughout the year the Childers Group continued to advocate on behalf of the Arts on a local and national level.


  • advocacy to the Australian Government and Federal Opposition about the budget cuts to the arts and the proposed ‘National Programme for Excellence in the Arts’ and the implications for the broader sector
  • participation in the ACT Government’s Arts Policy Review Reference Group, and we are continuing to advocate for importance of this review including consultations with the arts community in general as well as the broader community
  • advocacy to the ACT Government about opportunities for cultural tourism in the ‘CBR Region’
  • advocacy to the ACT Government about the importance of ‘arts service organisations’
  • two networking forums held


  • we held our fourth public forum, ‘Arts Leadership 2015’, in partnership with the Cultural Facilities Corporation – with a wide range of presenters and well over 100 participants engaged across an afternoon and evening, this was our biggest forum to-date
  • collaborated with the Cultural Facilities Corporation on ‘The Board Launch and Conversation’, with author, arts strategist and board expert David Fishel; and Director, National Museum of Australia Dr Mathew Trinca, as well as collaborated on the accompanying board workshop
  • prepared advocacy about the Australian Government’s Budget 2014/2015 and the missed opportunities/negative consequences for the arts
  • advocated for the ACT Book of the Year award to continue to include writers who live in regional NSW communities and can demonstrate a contribution to the ACT
  • provided a submission on the 2015/2016 ACT Budget consultation process, advocating for a range of policy ideas and actions, and presented this material through the Estimates process, ACT Legislative Assembly
  • met with the board of the Cultural Facilities Corporation


  • held our third forum, ‘The Role of the Arts Critic’, Gorman House Arts Centre, attended by 85 people
  • provided a submission to the NSW Government’s development of its arts and cultural policy, advocating for a range of policy ideas and actions
  • provided a submission on the 2014/2015 ACT Budget consultation process, advocating for a range of policy ideas and actions
  • advocacy for the retention of the ACT Book of the Year Award
  • published an article with ArtsHub about the importance of arts advocacy in the lead-up to the 2013 federal election
  • met with the ACT Government regarding the importance of arts and cultural tourism


  • held our second forum, which provided an opportunity for the three main political parties in the ACT to present their respective arts policies, with questions from the various art-form sectors; held at the Canberra Museum and Gallery
  • advocated for Writing Australia to continue to have its headquarters in the ACT, including through correspondence to the Australia Council for the arts and the ACT Cultural Council
  • provided a submission on the 2012/2013 ACT Budget consultation process, advocating for a range of policy ideas and actions
  • provided a submission on artsACT’s draft Arts Policy Framework
  • held our first forum, ‘Burning Issues and Radical Ideas’, which was attended by approximately 150 people, including Robyn Archer, Creative Director of the Centenary of Canberra, and two members of the ACT Legislative Assembly; held at the Street Theatre
  • wrote a 1200-word opinion piece highlighting the importance of celebrating the ACT region’s artistic and cultural achievements, which was published by The Canberra Times in May 2012
  • released our ‘Vision for the Kingston Arts Precinct’ document
  • advocated for the ACT Government’s new Events ACT website to make reference to all art-forms
  • meetings with the board of the Cultural Facilities Corporation and the Canberra Business Council’s Small Business Taskforce
  • met with The Canberra Times about the importance of employing professional arts journalists, including retention of the literary editor position
  • released our ‘Six Key Opportunities for the ACT region’ document, which included the Kingston Arts Precinct, the ANU School of Music, a dance hub, arts-in-education including an ACT-wide poetry slam program, and a world-class artist-in-residence program
  • twice met with MLAs representing the three main political parties in the ACT in the lead-up to the 2012 ACT Legislative Assembly election
  • advocated for the appropriate and sustainable funding of fine-art courses provided through NSW TAFE
  • distributed a variety of media releases, including on Geoffrey Rush being named Australian of the Year and Caroline Stacey being named ACT Artist of the Year


  • announced the formation of the Childers Group
  • various media interviews about the announcement


  • meetings with a range of ACT Legislative Assembly members about the arts
  • various communications and updates via Facebook and Twitter
  • our members also write arts-related articles for various publications, including the Canberra Times (and related Fairfax Media newspapers) and ArtsHub.

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