Australia Council CEO, Kathy Keele, officially opened the fourth UWS Acquisitive Sculpture Award and Exhibition. The exhibition is held on the Campbelltown Campus from 30 April – Sunday 30 May 2010.
Thanks Janice and good afternoon to you all.
As a guest on these lands, I acknowledge the traditional custodians, the Tharawal peoples, and pay my respect to their elders, past and present.
Aboriginal peoples across this country give us a powerful example of a dynamic arts and culture, and one much defined by place. Thatís something to remember as we celebrate today the place of sculpture in the landscape ñ and think of the meanings and spirituality which art can bring to our view of that land.
The traditional custodians, their art etched into this same land, have given us a good example of that.
Today universities can have an allied role. They have a key role in deepening our knowledge of the arts, in training our artists and in building a neighbourhood community of arts participation and fellowship.
Across this huge region, the University of Western Sydney is unique in carrying this role, working across its many campuses, as it services nearly 2 million people in western Sydney.
This sculpture exhibition, now in its fourth reincarnation, is just one flagship of this arts commitment.
To those who have helped make it such a respected flagship, congratulations first to the 21 artists as finalists, many of whom I see here today. And congratulations to the local councillors of Campbelltown, Camden and Wollondilly, who work with this university to spread the possibilities of this exhibition across Western Sydney.
Late last year I had the really positive experience of meeting many of the arts directors in the region, from Casula Powerhouse, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Penrith Regional Gallery, the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Blacktown Arts Centre and the Parramatta Studios. Many of these directors are also here today.
The growth of this arts infrastructure, especially in the last decade, confirms the truth we all know: that people in Western Sydney need the employment and creative opportunities of the arts just as much as they need good roads, hospitals and public transport.
The Australia Council last month published comprehensive research into the attitudes of Australians and their participation in the arts.
We found that more than nine in ten Australians last year receptively participated in at least one art form. And, this audience will be interested to know, more people ñ 22% of us ñ created visual arts and crafts than any other form of art.
And as the arts participation of Australians has grown compared to a similar survey a decade ago, so too have their attitudes to the arts become increasingly positive.
Our research also offered other useful discoveries for arts presenters, showing them significant opportunities to build arts audiences. Please check it out on our website… But the point is …in Western Sydney and beyond, there is a huge and now proven appetite for arts experiences, for creative opportunities and for the sort of cultural affirmations of community and place which the arts can bring.
And just as our arts centres in Western Sydney service this appetite, so is this University well placed across the region to continue an arts education role.
The Australia Council for the Arts continues to invest in western Sydney. Our investment indeed has grown with the regionís arts excellence.
Itís so wonderful, for example, to see Shaun Gladwellís work MADDESTMAXIMVS now at the Campbelltown Arts Centre. The Australia Council selected Shaunís work to represent Australia at the Biennale of Venice last year. Itís proof again of this regionís capacity to showcase world class arts projects.
Weíve also worked with UWS on many projects over many years, particularly with its Centre for Cross Cultural Research. The C3West project has been running for four years: a Community Partnership initiative with business, community and cultural organisations to produce international contemporary visual arts projects. Currently you can see three outcomes of C3 West at the MCA, Penrith and Goulburn.
Other ventures include our Literature Board funding of the UWS literary magazine Heat, as well as Chinese/English translation programs.
The Literature Board also co-commissioned the University of Western Sydney to research the effectiveness, both critical and financial, of our Literature Board subsidies to Australian publishers between 1995 and 2005. We look forward to the results when the study is published later this year during the Melbourne Writers festival. And hope they havenít been too hard on us!
Our artform boards are constantly supporting former students of this University: prominent artists like Brook Andrew, Rachel Ormella and Justine Williams; or arts administrators like David Cranswick and Melissa Chiu.
We even employed one of them …and made him our current director of the Visual Arts Board: Kon Gouriotis, former director of Casula Powerhouse.
Plus Iím glad to note that the Council has funded the work of some of the finalists in this Sculpture Exhibition.
But aside from excellent artists, many of our arts projects in this region are also distinctive in bringing voice to the identity of community or place. And as I suggested earlier, this is an arts benefit particularly important to the often newly defined ñ and sometimes ignored ñ communities and places of Western Sydney.
Iím thinking here of ICE, Urban Theatre Projects, Beyond Empathy and the Islamic Womenís Project at Casula. And whatís special is that we fund these in partnership with local organisations and, in each case, with the University of Western Sydney.
A delight of my job is to constantly discover important new projects in the arts. This sculptural award is no exception.
Acquiring a new sculpture every two years from a new pick is inventive.
Inviting people and picnickers onto the campus and also travelling the exhibition through the region is inspired.
The prize is notably valued by the obvious respect given to it by the artists who contribute.
The generous prize is significant and necessary.
Importantly, the dedication to sculpture itself is a credit to your University and to the UWS Vice Chancellor for creating the opportunity and resources.
I congratulate all of you involved in the exhibition, on and off this campus. Itís exciting to be here with you to help declare it open.