2. Executive Summary. Background

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1 2. Executive Summary Background The ACT Government recognised that the arts in the ACT faced a range of challenges that needed to be addressed through a wide-ranging, practical and strategic review. The scope of the review required consideration of the effectiveness of policies, strategies and public sector support for the arts in the ACT. A major motivation for commissioning a review at this time was the need for a new ACT Government policy for the arts after the policy statement, Arts Canberra Action Statement for the Arts, expired at the end of The creation of a new arts policy and strategy was recognised as being of great importance to identify changing needs and opportunities in the arts sector in Canberra and to guide future funding and other Government priorities. A request for proposal and quotation was issued for a consultancy to review arts policy, consult widely, and report back to the ACT Government with feedback, analysis and recommendations on proposed future policies, strategies and actions. In September 2009, the Chief Minister and Minister for the Arts and Heritage, Mr Jon Stanhope, announced the appointment of Peter Loxton and Associates Pty Ltd to undertake a detailed independent review of the arts in Canberra over approximately nine months, including the overall operations, interactions, issues and future needs of the arts in the ACT. The review involved research into best-practice arts policy from around Australia and extensive consultations with the ACT arts community, the public and other jurisdictions. Consultations included three public forums, online and hardcopy public surveys, artist and other arts workshops, face-to-face interviews and and written submissions. These consultations provided an important foundation of information, ideas and feedback for this report. Issues and Learnings There were a number of strong impressions, most of which became evident quite early, and were reinforced over the duration of the review through consultations and inputs from hundreds of stakeholders in the ACT. What was learned from the ACT arts sector and public formed the foundations of many of the issues to be addressed through this review. These included: There is a high level of interest in and passion for the arts in the ACT There is very active community involvement in the arts It is difficult to survive as a full-time professional artist in Canberra, especially as a young or emerging artist Some areas of the arts appear to be better funded than others Arts facilities and venues are in high demand and are valued The balance and blending of funding needs to change, with more for professional artists, especially emerging artists Communication and information about the arts needs attention Review of the Arts in Canberra: Final Report by Peter Loxton and Associates Pty Ltd (Executive Summary) 1

2 There is no clear delineation between the needs of professional and community arts There is rigour in Government processes, but they are also often complex, slow, inflexible and unresponsive to the needs of the arts There should be a greater awareness and connection of the arts to education, community, social, and economic development Arts budgets and resources are too tight, and there is an urgent need for new priorities and change Future Policy Directions The ACT Government was widely seen through the review as supportive of the arts. However, it became clear that because of significant strains on current funding, there will have to be changes to the future role of Government in relation to the arts. These changes should be consistent with new policy priorities, which should be aligned as closely as possible with principles, developments and priorities in the Australian Government and other jurisdictions. It is suggested that the Government s future key goals for the arts should be: 1. Increasing participation in the arts 2. Attracting and developing artists and quality art These goals, combined with a range of more specific policies, should guide Government funding and resourcing priorities. It is proposed that Government funding for the arts should in future be more targeted to ensure there is real impact in priority areas, rather than trying to support all areas of the arts, which would inevitably fall short of expectations. It will be essential for transparency and effectiveness that Government ensures future funding decisions are based only on new goals and priorities. This will require some difficult decisions, including reviewing all existing funding and setting clear timeframes for new funding priorities and arrangements, as well as for new performance expectations. There will also need to be significant changes to streamline and improve Government communication and processes so that decisions guided by new policies are made and advised as promptly as possible. Summary of Key Issues, Analysis and Recommendations Government There is genuine reason for concern about the heavy and apparently growing dependence from the arts sector on ACT Government funding. The level of dependence on the ACT Government seems to be higher in the ACT than in other jurisdictions, and the level of Australian Government funding is lower. This will require strategies to maximise the focus and impact of Government funding around new, clear policy priorities and to minimise the costs of administration and duplication. There will also be a requirement for concerted action to increase the diversity of Review of the Arts in Canberra: Final Report by Peter Loxton and Associates Pty Ltd (Executive Summary) 2

3 revenue sources for the arts, including through new partnerships and greater involvement of business through sponsorship, as well as by encouraging philanthropy. The Chief Minister and ACT Government will have an important leadership role to play in driving these changes. The most obvious role for Government is that of direct funding for the arts. However, there is also a leadership role for Government to play in developing a vision for the arts in Canberra. It should also promote the value of the arts for individuals and communities, as well as significant contributions to other areas of Government priority including education, health, social and economic development. There is also an important facilitation role for ACT Government to help the arts community to connect with different areas and levels of Government, business, the public, and with other artists and arts organisations nationally and internationally. There are excellent opportunities for the arts to create stronger relationships and partnerships with other areas of Government and business in a range of areas including tourism, events and festivals. It is reasonable for Government to expect that one aspect of its return on investment in the arts is the economic benefits that the arts deliver to the ACT economy. artsact Management and staff at artsact demonstrate a strong commitment to the arts and to providing professional public administration. However, this review found that there was criticism that artsact appeared to be overly process-driven, bureaucratic and unresponsive. Staff are currently required to provide a range of services and administrative support that are no longer appropriate. With new funding and grants administration arrangements, artsact would be able to streamline all processes. With clear Government goals and policies, artsact would be given the opportunity to refocus its efforts on policy advice, data collection, research and communication. It should be well placed to become more proactive, better connected and informed and be the focal point for responsive, timely, informed policy advice to the Chief Minister and to agencies across Government. artsact would also need to develop more effective, open and trusted communication with the arts sector, and to provide more active specialist leadership in the coordination and promotion of the arts, including working with Government agencies. An upgraded website would be required to enable one aspect of improved communication, engagement and feedback. artsact should be encouraged to broaden its policy scope to build capacity, knowledge and expertise in the areas of economic development, innovation and creative industries. Cultural Council Currently the majority of the Cultural Council s time is spent on funding matters. It is Review of the Arts in Canberra: Final Report by Peter Loxton and Associates Pty Ltd (Executive Summary) 3

4 suggested that Cultural Council should relinquish current funding responsibilities and refocus its attention on becoming an effective, responsive policy advisory body. The Cultural Council should develop into a Ministerial Arts Advisory Council which would principally provide advice directly to the Minister for the Arts on both specific issues raised by the Minister as well as their own ideas and initiatives, based on a closer connection with the ACT arts sector. At present the Council s funding responsibilities inhibit this connection to some extent because of concerns about probity. Cultural Facilities Corporation The Cultural Facilities Corporation (CFC) demonstrates effective administration with high standards of corporate governance but its range of responsibilities is unusual and based on decisions taken at an earlier time, rather than on natural synergies. While the CFC was seen to add real value in some areas, such as the management of historic properties, in other areas it did not appear to add significant benefit when taking account of the administrative costs. It is proposed that the CFC would relinquish its responsibilities other than for historic properties. The CFC would build on its strengths and develop into a new Historic Places Trust (HPT) to take responsibility for all heritage properties and assets, as well as historic and significant places. The new HPT would take on a more focused, active and entrepreneurial role modeled on the NSW Historic Houses Trust. The Canberra Theatre Centre appears to perform well in its own right, and it is suggested that this would operate most effectively and efficiently in future as a separate, fully ACT Government owned entity operating under a Board reporting to the Chief Minister. The Canberra Museum and Gallery (CMAG) is an important facility but it seems to struggle with its identity and with attracting audiences. As soon as possible, artsact should be responsible for significant changes to the structure and operations of CMAG. The Museum and Gallery aspects of CMAG would separate with the opportunity to have different management and partnership arrangements for each function. There would be a new Canberra Gallery in the current location of the CMAG, which would focus on the full range of ACT visual arts, including an ACT Indigenous component. There would also be innovative elements and partnerships to provide a new and interesting museum presence for Canberra. Arts Organisations Government should in future only fund organisations that can demonstrate strategies for the delivery of outcomes that support Government policy priorities of increased participation and quality art. There is currently an unsustainable number of Key Arts Organisations (KAOs) and a lack of clarity about what constitutes a KAO. Government should in future fund a smaller number of organisations or clusters of organisations and should also Review of the Arts in Canberra: Final Report by Peter Loxton and Associates Pty Ltd (Executive Summary) 4

5 discontinue use of the term Key Arts Organisations. Collaboration and partnerships between arts organisations and art forms will need to be strongly encouraged, as this will be the future focus of all funding for arts organisations. Government s aim would be for about eight arts hubs to emerge based on art form and/or precinct, and these would be funded for a maximum of three years. There would also be an emphasis on identifying and supporting centres of excellence, with a focus on art forms and organisations where the ACT has competitive advantage on the national and global stage. Professional Artists Professional artists are clearly central to a healthy, dynamic arts sector and a new ACT Government arts policy must fully recognise their vital contribution. It has been observed around Australia that funding for individual artists is reducing in proportion to funding for major institutions and arts organisations, and this is certainly the case in the ACT. There is a need to focus on providing greater support for more practising professional artists, particularly young and emerging artists, as well as for new and emerging art forms. This support should include mentoring and professional development, access to appropriate arts facilities, facilitation of artist forums and increased funding. There is strong evidence to support a Government funded Artists in Residence program, which will promote quality art, education and Canberra as an arts hub. Government should also create an Emerging Artists category in the Arts Fund and ensure that grants application and commissioning processes for artists are as simple, quick and flexible as possible while properly meeting essential probity and risk management requirements. Community Participation in the Arts The ACT Government s primary goal in support for community arts should be to increase participation in the arts, rather than to achieve artistic quality or excellence. Funding for community arts should generally be allocated at the regional level and the main focus of Government funding for community arts should be the provision of appropriate, multi-purpose, accessible facilities. Public Art The ACT Government has made a significant investment in public art in recent years. This initiative showed vision in recognising that public art could be an integral part of public spaces and has resulted in many outstanding works becoming a part of Canberra s cultural and physical landscape. However, the initiative has also received a considerable amount of critical public comment and negative media coverage directed mainly at an apparent lack of transparency in the process of buying or commissioning the sculptures and planning for their location. A policy framework for public art would assist greatly in setting clear directions and processes. These policies would stem mainly from an ACT Cultural Facilities Plan that would indicate future placement of Public Art in the ACT, and the associated Review of the Arts in Canberra: Final Report by Peter Loxton and Associates Pty Ltd (Executive Summary) 5

6 consultation and decision-making processes. artsact would have a continuing policy role only, including ensuring ongoing curatorial oversight. In future, the new ACT Arts Fund Panel should make recommendations, after seeking appropriate specialist Public Art advice. Art beyond sculpture should be included as part of the scope of Public Art. Despite some criticisms, most of which can be addressed through new policies, there was overwhelming support during the review for the vision behind Public Art, and for the determination that a Public Art program should continue. These views are strongly supported by the reviewers. Facilities and Planning Facilities are a vital element of infrastructure to support the arts in the ACT. A Cultural Facilities Plan is required to create clarity and structure around planning for core cultural facilities, venues, heritage buildings, regional and multiple use facilities, future arts precincts, and any major new developments of cultural facilities for Canberra. The Plan should be developed in an open and collaborative process with input from all key stakeholders. artsact should retain ownership and control of its non-heritage arts facilities, but responsibility for repairs and maintenance should be transferred or outsourced with a realistic budget from the small, dedicated team to external specialists in this area. Access and rental arrangements need to be reviewed to ensure clarity and consistency, reflecting Government arts goals and priorities. Communication, Marketing and Promotion There was very strong feedback that communication, marketing and promotion of the arts in the ACT are currently fractured and ineffective. A cost-effective, centralised and coordinated communication and information unit, overseen by arts organisations and artsact, should be established outside Government for artists, arts organisations and the public. Universities The ACT Government should fully acknowledge the vital contribution of the major universities, and particularly the ANU, to the arts and the professional development of artists in the ACT. This should be seen as a basis to further develop trusted relationships, new partnerships and opportunities for closer collaboration, innovation and cost-sharing with both ANU and UC. The ACT Government provides substantial arts funding to the ANU which is one of its largest recipients of funding. There must continue to be clear and agreed performance expectations in terms of benefits to the ACT, including participation goals for community outreach programs and increased access to Llewellyn Hall. National Cultural Institutions The National Cultural Institutions (NCIs) play a vital role in the ACT arts environment. Review of the Arts in Canberra: Final Report by Peter Loxton and Associates Pty Ltd (Executive Summary) 6

7 artsact should facilitate establishing and developing strong bilateral and multilateral relationships and partnerships between the NCIs, ACT artists and arts organisations, and ACT Government agencies. Diversity, Indigenous Arts and Accessibility Diversity is a very important issue that needs to become a broader shared responsibility of ACT Government and all arts organisations receiving funding. A condition of future artsact funding should be a requirement to demonstrate and report on social inclusion and diversity initiatives. The ACT Community Arts Office should be outposted to provide significant local support to community arts, with two positions allocated to Tuggeranong and two to Belconnen Arts Centres, to cover the entire ACT. Current staff should be given the opportunity to take up these new roles, which would set out to increase participation in the arts, including all diversity target groups. There should be an Indigenous specific funding category in the ACT Arts Fund. artsact should work closely and collaboratively with Indigenous people to ensure that all decisions about an Indigenous category are informed and that implementation is successful. Capacity building initiatives, including assistance with applications and reporting are strongly encouraged. There needs to be clarification of policy on all aspects of access and accessibility. Many of these, such as parking, transport and disability access, should be included in the development of a Cultural Facilities Plan. Funding Peer assessment should be retained for significant funding decisions, as this ensures informed, independent, merit-based decision-making about funding. However, in order to streamline funding decisions, a single ACT Arts Fund Panel with a strong mix of skills should be established to operate across art forms and the arts sector, with access to specialist art form advice as required. This change would streamline decision-making processes, enabling funding announcements months earlier. This would be combined with direct decision-making for lower level, responsive decisions such as Quick Response Grants, which would be decided by artsact. Review of the Arts in Canberra: Final Report by Peter Loxton and Associates Pty Ltd (Executive Summary) 7

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