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Rupert Myer – Launch of Strategic Plan and Grants Model

Speeches and Opinions
Aug 18, 2014

Rupert Myer AM, Chair of the Australia Council, launches a new Strategic plan and grant model, Sydney Opera House, Monday 18 August 2014.

Good morning the Attorney-General and Minister for the Arts, Senator George Brandis the Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop Artists Australia Council board members and colleagues past and present, Chairs of Arts Practice, panel members and peers Government partners Sector colleagues Supporters of the arts.

On behalf of all of us at the Australia Council, it gives me great pleasure to extend a very warm welcome to you and to thank you for joining us at this exciting time in the arts and in the life of the Australia Council.

I would also like to welcome and acknowledge those of you watching via live stream. It is wonderful to be able to share this event with our friends and colleagues right across Australia and we look forward to being able to do so face to face over the next few weeks.

It now gives me great pleasure to invite Gadigal elder Uncle Chicka Madden to give the welcome to country.

On behalf of all present, thank you to Uncle Chicka for such a warm welcome.

I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners on whose land we meet, the Gadigal people of the Eora nation and I pay respect to elders past and present.

It is a particular pleasure to be performing the launch in this location at the Sydney Opera House: an iconic arts space and one that demonstrates our cultural ambition to visitors from around the globe.

The launch of the Australia Council’s Five Year strategy reflects a desire to make more visible the vitality of our arts and culture, and to recognise the evolving way that Australians make and experience art, from galleries, theatres and studios to dry river beds, beaches and virtual spaces.

This diverse cultural landscape, with the energy that courses through it, the audiences’ engagement with it and the levels of participation in it, reveals something that we too seldom admit to ourselves: that we have a national obsession with the arts.

Sometimes, it is a quiet obsession, not always that raucous and overt passion demonstrated in sport.  In the arts, it can be a long, slow burn; a strong, powerful engagement; an emotional loyalty built from experiences over time, at once intensely personal, and shared, ritualistic and participative; developed through knowledge and understanding; and through pleasure and entertainment; across diverse art forms; and by artists from all communities and backgrounds.  Of course, the passion for it can be raucous and overt as well.

Our strategy sets out the Australia Council’s vision for the arts, one that we have developed following the Australia Council Review in 2012, through sustained dialogue with artists and all those who present, produce and support the arts.  It is intended to capture broad ambitions: local, national, regional and international.

In doing so, I acknowledge that whilst we carry both a national responsibility and a profound duty of trust and care to the arts sector and the Government, we necessarily carry out our work alongside other public agencies, private sector organisations and individuals all over the country.

Our vision is clear: that through our attitude and demeanour and through keeping artists at the centre of everything we do, we wish to both reflect and support Australia’s cultural ambitions.

We fervently believe that we are a culturally ambitious nation. With our support for the arts and through how we respond to great ideas and develop strategies and initiatives across the sector, we believe that we can together lift and help realise that ambition.

Having two senior cabinet ministers here today is clear evidence that this ambition is shared at the highest levels of government.  It is also an ambition that we share with other industries, recognising that innovation is driven by creativity.

The arts sector can confidently assert the very broad opportunities and benefits that arise from cultural diplomacy, creative work forces, artistically engaged and connected communities, and an imaginative population.

At the Australia Council, our role is to support the unimagined along with the reimagined; the unknown and experimental along with the keenly anticipated.  We will be advocates for the arts; we will seek to leverage our support for the arts from other public and private sources; we will simplify our processes to be more efficient and responsive.  We will build a stronger narrative around the arts with a language that is fresh and contemporary.

Before we hear from the Australia Council’s CEO, Tony Grybowski, who will present the strategy and announce our new grants model, I am delighted we have the opportunity to hear from just a few of Australia’s artists and arts presenters.

Thank you Attorney Brandis and Minister Bishop.

The Australia Council is delighted to have your joint endorsement of this strategy. Your presence here today is a powerful symbol of that endorsement and the importance of the arts to the nation.

I would like to thank the many people within the Australia Council and across the sector involved in the development of the strategy and grants model.

As Tony concluded in his remarks, this is a moment to embrace fresh language around ambition through exploration and expansion, adventure and leverage.

In the document that are about to receive, you will see that we conclude our introduction by saying that at the Australia Council, artists “are our heroes” and that in a Culturally Ambitious Nation they take their places “amongst the nation’s heroes”.

I would like to leave you in no doubt, as our new logo attests, that we are the Australia Council – for the Arts. Tony and I have great pleasure in launching the Strategic Plan, ‘A Culturally Ambitious Nation’. Thank you for your attendance today.