The following letter by Council CEO Jennifer Bott was published by The Advertiser on 4 February 2005.
‘Artists not left out in the cold’
Louise Nunn’s views in “Clandestine Changes Leave Real Players Out in the Cold” (The Advertiser, 1.2.05) perpetrate the myth that the Australia Council is working behind closed doors against the better interests of the nation’s artists.
The Council announced that it was setting up a task force with two goals: how the Australia Council should best organise itself to support disparate art practices and advance art in Australia, and what the strategic focus for the Australia Council should be over the next five years.
This was entirely in keeping with its mission, and with the best practice of any effective and efficient organisation.
More than half the Council’s 148 staff were interviewed about what they thought could be improved, and provided valuable advice on changes for the better. How does this accord with the claim that staff were “misled about the work of the Future Task Force”?
To further suggest that the Council is “putting the institution and its employees ahead of the artists they represent” is both offensive to the Council and its staff, and lacks logic: how could a weakened Australian arts scene help the Council?
We have stated that not one cent less will be spent on the arts as a result of any changes, and we stick to that.
Regarding the planned changes, we continue to consult with the arts sector, organise workshops on the relevant issues and listen to all viewpoints.