The Hon Simon Crean MP
Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government
Minister for the Arts
Arts Minister Simon Crean today announced the Australia Council for the Arts will have increased responsibility for a broader range of arts funding programs in the first steps of reforming the Council.
Speaking at the Australian Performing Arts Centres Association Conference, Mr Crean said that Playing Australia, Visions of Australia, Festivals Australia, the Contemporary Music Touring Program, Contemporary Touring Initiative and the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy will transfer to the Australia Council from the Office for the Arts.
The recent Review of the Australia Council recommended a number of significant changes to the structure and operations of the Government’s major arts funding body, Mr Crean said.
Today’s announcement is the first step in readying the Australia Council for the challenges of an arts sector that is transforming, and to help deliver on the goals of the National Cultural Policy.
Through these programs the Australia Council can increase the access of Australians living in regional and remote communities to high quality productions and exhibitions.
The Chair of the Australia Council, Rupert Myer welcomed the announcement, saying that the Australia Council is perfectly placed to build on the success of the programs.
This is a significant opportunity for the Australia Council to work more closely with a broader range of arts organisations and with venues throughout regional Australia, Mr Myer said.
The regional touring programs have a strong track record in delivering a great variety of high quality arts experiences sought by regional Australians from contemporary music and circus, to theatre and exhibitions.
Combining these programs under the Australia Council provides an important opportunity for national overview and we look forward to continuing to work with regional communities and the touring sector to deliver these experiences to regional audiences.
These changes will provide the sector with a single source of funding with consistent application and reporting processes.
We will work closely with the Office for the Arts to ensure a smooth transition of program management for recipients and applicants.
Mr Crean said it was important that arts funding was peer-assessed.
The Australia Council has a robust assessment process. Peer assessment by experts in the field will continue to be an important feature of the regional touring programs, Mr Crean said.
The Australia Council will also manage and distribute the Australian Governments Visual Arts and Craft Strategy (VACS) funding contribution.
VACS is a joint initiative of the Australian, state and territory governments to support a strong and dynamic contemporary visual arts and craft sector.
Under the new administrative arrangement, the Government and jurisdictions will continue to play pivotal roles in negotiating the next VACS four-year funding package. Existing VACS recipients will receive funding according to agreements already in place.
Minister Crean also recently announced initial reforms to encourage increased levels of private sector and philanthropic support for the arts with the creation of a new organisation through the merger of Australia Business Arts Foundation (AbaF) and the Australia Council’s Artsupport Australia program.
The Government’s responses to further reforms recommended by the Review of the Australia Council and the Review of Private Sector Support for the Arts will be released as part of the National Cultural Policy later this year.
The transfer of regional touring programs will take place progressively over the next six months.