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Valuing the Arts – highlights from the Australia Council’s year in review

The Australia Council’s investment in the arts in 2018-19 supported the creation of more than 9,500 new Australian works and compelling arts experiences that reached more than 22 million people across the globe.

The impact of the Australia Council’s investment is outlined in the Australia Council’s latest Annual Report 2018-19 tabled in Federal Parliament this week.

Chair Sam Walsh AO said the report demonstrated the immense impact of relatively modest investments in arts and creativity.

“As a society, I believe we must afford far greater recognition to the value of the arts and creativity. There is enormous public value generated through the arts for the whole of civil society – the arts contribute significantly across our nation’s health, education, industry, global affairs and more,” he said.

The report includes case studies that illustrate the impact of Council’s support and the immense public value it delivers. These include, among others, the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair which provides economic value by driving regional tourism and employment; and Counting and Cracking, a theatre work by Belvoir and Co-Curious, that delivers immense cultural value, speaking to the power of great art to create a genuinely inclusive cultural landscape.

The annual report also shares stories about arts organisations that are finding new ways to engage and enrich the Australian public. One such example is the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra’s work with virtual reality providing a totally immersive orchestral experience for older South Australians in community centres, enabling them to reconnect with their love of music.

Australia Council CEO Adrian Collette AM said this was the final report under the Council’s strategic plan A Culturally Ambitious Nation. Mr Collette acknowledged the individual artists, arts organisations and arts workers who provide such immense value to the nation, as well as the audiences, philanthropists and supporters who work with the Council to ensure that value is carried into the future.

“As we look to the future, I see an increasingly powerful role for the arts and creativity in this nation in igniting our social, cultural and economic success,” he said.

Key Highlights 2018-2019

  • In 2018–19 we invested in arts experiences that reached 22.6 million people across the globe. We cultivated creativity and innovation, supporting the creation of more than 9,500 new Australian works.
  • Four Year Funded Organisations presented almost 1,000 world premieres of new Australian works and Major Performing Arts companies employed almost 10,000 people.
  • We strengthened international partnerships, our international reputation and Australia’s soft power capabilities through support for more than 3,300 arts activities in 55 countries. We have seen audiences increase by 58% in Asia where we have increased our strategic investment to support Australian artists’ engagement and success.
  • Our 2018–19 annual report illustrates the impact of Council’s support and the immense public value it delivers through a range of case studies. They include:
    • The Cairns Indigenous Art Fair which provides economic value by driving regional tourism and employment. A highlight of the tourism calendar, it engages visitors with First Nations culture through ethical art while supporting local jobs and economies.
    • Somebody’s Daughter Theatre delivers social value by working with some of the most vulnerable and powerless in our society, providing pathways back into education and community for women in prison. Their No More Hiding in Silence video clip shares these women’s voices and experiences and speaks out against domestic violence.
    • Counting and Cracking by Belvoir and Co-Curious is a work that delivers immense cultural value, speaking to the power of great art to create a genuinely inclusive cultural landscape. An epic work, it tells an Australian–Sri-Lankan story across generations. Ten years in the making, Counting and Cracking was the hot ticket show of 2019 and won seven Helpmann Awards.
  • The annual report also shares stories about ways arts organisations are finding new ways to engage and enrich Australian audiences and the public. These stories include:
    • The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra’s work with virtual reality to provide a totally immersive orchestral experience to older South Australians in community centres, enabling them to reconnect with their love of music through VR.
    • Red Room Poetry’s project which published school children’s poetry on buses. Public programs by the Red Room reached an estimated audience of 3.8 million in 2018.
    • Back to Back Theatre is expanding the company’s reach through digital platforms including film and TV. This new strand of work could have long-term multiplier effects for the company and for the audiences who witness this outstanding work by artists with disability on screen.

Copies of the full annual report are available for download. Hard copies are also available on request.

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Discover the 2018-19 Annual Report



Brianna Roberts


(02) 9215 9030

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