Key themes from the consultation

Where possible, artsACT has tried to keep most of the data in its original format (e.g. direct quotes, written contributions at the community forum breakout sessions) in order to retain the original intent of the feedback.

What became evident throughout the consultation process is that there is a high level of interest in and passion for the arts in the ACT, with over 300 individuals and representative organisations engaging in the Review.

ACT Arts Policy Framework: Current document

The consultation context section needs more information and, in particular, needs to recognise the important contribution of the ACT arts sector that does not receive ACT Government funding and support.

Although the online survey showed more than three quarters of people (approximately 78%) of respondents support the current vision, the feedback from both the survey and face-to-face consultations revealed that it needs to be more aspirational. Throughout the consultation there was strong support for the reference to the region, although there was confusion as to how far the region actually extends. The part of the vision that a lot of people found problematic was the use of the words “excellence” and “unique” and what they mean. There were a number of suggestions for additional words and themes to be included in the vision, such as diversity, access, support for the arts and experimentation.

Overall, the four principles were ranked fairly equally in terms of importance, but feedback indicates that they could be further refined. There were many suggestions of additions to the principles, as well as comments around the similarities between principle two and four.

The policy also needs to state more clearly how the principles will be implemented and measured.

The small booklet format received a lot of positive feedback during the consultation process and most people think that this should be retained. However, more work could be done in terms of producing the policy in formats tailored to different audiences (e.g. video) and engaging in more face-to-face communications (such as policy ‘road show’ presentations) to increase awareness and understanding of the policy.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture

The policy needs to make a stronger reference to the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts and culture.
More needs to be done in terms of building the capacity of, developing and supporting Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders. This could include offering dedicated professional development funding, providing more spaces for artists to work together and actively promoting and encouraging funding opportunities to the Indigenous community. artsACT should work closely and collaboratively with Indigenous people to ensure that all decisions about Indigenous support are informed and that implementation is successful.

Accessibility

Feedback focussed on the importance of physical accessibility of arts facilities and venues for people with disability. The ACT should be aiming to exceed accessibility requirements. Accessibility should also be a requirement of funding.

ACT Government

The ACT Government is generally seen as supportive of the arts; however, there needs to be more cross-directorate collaboration. It is important that the arts are embedded in other ACT Government policies. Directorates need to understand how the arts can assist with the achievement of other outcomes (e.g. health, education, tourism).

Artists (emerging, mid-career, established)

It can be difficult to make a living as a full-time professional artist in Canberra. A number of people commented that there is a lack of support for mid-career artists – the majority of support is targeted towards emerging or professional artists. More focus needs to be put on developing career pathways.

Arts facilities and venues

There is the impression that the ACT is well-catered for in terms of arts facilities; however, feedback indicated that most people would prefer to see funding used on maintaining and upgrading the existing arts facilities, instead of building new ones.

There is the need for a long term arts facilities strategy, which should be developed in an open and collaborative process with input from all key stakeholders.

artsACT

Feedback suggested that artsACT needs to take a stronger leadership role within the ACT arts ecology.
artsACT also needs improve communications in terms of what we do and why. There needs to be more two-way communication with the arts sector, including annual forums.

There also needs to be a stronger focus on research and data collection to assist with evidence- based decision making and measuring the success of programs.

Arts and education

Feedback confirmed that arts education is important and valued.

The national curriculum will be instrumental in terms of developing future artists, as well as providing opportunities for artists and organisations to engage more with schools. There was a concern that artforms will be taught by general teachers lacking in specialist expertise, instead of professional artists.

Diversity

The word “inclusion” is not enough. There needs to be more mention of diversity – this includes diverse cultures, heritage, age groups, abilities, artistic diversity, artform diversity and scales of art practice.

Festivals

From the feedback received, this was an area of high priority.

There are a lot of small festivals that occur in the ACT, and there was strong feedback for the need for a long term festivals strategy. ACT Government run festivals need to employ more local artists/arts workers. Artists want the opportunity to pitch ideas.

There was a lot of debate as to whether the ACT needs a major arts festival. The majority of feedback suggested that existing festivals could collaborate more and be promoted under the same banner.

Funding

Overall, there were a number of comments advocating for more funding for the arts.

The funding support needs to align with the policy principles. Provision of arts facilities and the Community Cultural Inclusion Program is not enough in terms of support for community arts. If this is the first principle in the policy, artsACT needs to be doing more.

There are a number of gaps in current funding categories, such as funding for professional development for both artists and arts workers/administrators and funding for organisations that do not meet organisational structure criteria. The concept of separating repairs and maintenance funding from program funding for artsACT-owned facilities was supported.

The idea of implementing a loans scheme, similar to Arts Tasmania and the City of Sydney, was mentioned a number of times.

Marketing and promotion

From the feedback received, this was an area of high priority.

There was very strong feedback that more needs to be done to market and promote the arts, so that Canberra is recognised for both nationally and internationally for its artistic achievements.

There needs to be a funded arts component of Brand Canberra.

The idea of a centralised online portal to assist with the promotion of the arts in Canberra was raised on a number of occasions.

National Cultural Institutions

There is the need for more collaboration between the local arts sector and National Cultural Institutions. At the moment there is the perception that the National Cultural Institutions are not interested in engaging with each other or the local arts sector.

Private sector partnerships

There is an increasing need to increase revenue sources for the arts, including through new partnerships, greater involvement of business through sponsorship and in-kind support, as well as by encouraging philanthropy.

Professional development

From the feedback received, this was an area of high priority.

There currently seems to be a lack of professional development opportunities and support for artists and, in particular, arts workers/administrators. It was suggested by a number of people that there should be a specific funding category dedicated to professional development, and that this should be also be available to arts workers/administrators (e.g. curators, arts marketers). This should receive more funding than the current out-of-round category.

Young and emerging artists feel like they are ill-equipped to deal with the business and administration side of their practice. The ANU School of Art has a professional practice development elective but the timing of the elective during art school is not necessarily right. There is a high demand for mentoring programs.

More also needs to be done in terms of building the capacity of, developing and supporting Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders.

Regulation

From the feedback received, this was an area of high priority, particularly for the music and dance sectors.

Regulation and planning in regards to live events was seen as a major issue that the ACT Government needs to resolve. This issue is currently being looked at through the development of a Live Events Strategy.

The creation of Access Canberra was seen as a positive step by the ACT Government to eliminate ‘red-tape’. At the moment there is the perception that regulations are created in isolation, instead of using a holistic approach.

A way of supporting the small to medium arts sector (largely unfunded by the ACT Government) is through regulatory reform.

Research and data

From the feedback received, this was an area of high priority.

There needs to be a stronger focus on research and data collection to assist with evidence- based decision making, using resources more efficiently and measuring the value and impact of the arts (e.g. economic, social). This data needs to be communicated back to stakeholders, in order for there to b a broader understanding of the ACT arts sector as whole.

Regional connection

Canberra is seen as an important regional arts hub. There was strong support for the ACT Government to continue to support regional artists, with the current parameters used by artsACT to support regional artists receiving positive support.

There were a number of suggestions for artsACT to have a formal arrangement with Arts NSW (e.g. MOU).

There is, however, greater clarity needed about where the regional boundaries are.

Tertiary institutions

The ANU Schools of Art and Music value their current partnership with artsACT and from the feedback received, their programs are valued.

Local tertiary institutions could play in bigger role in providing training and professional development to the local arts sector. More links with the Canberra Institute of Technology and the University of Canberra could be explored.