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Tony Grybowski – Launch Of Strategic Plan And Grants Model

Speeches and Opinions
Aug 18, 2014

Tony Grybowski, CEO of the Australia Council, launches a new Strategic plan and grant model, Sydney Opera House, Monday 18 August 2014.

Thank you Rupert.  I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank the entire Australia Council Board – for your leadership and vision at such an important time.

As I look about the room today, and I know in may other locations via the webcast, a sincere thank you to our colleagues, artists and friends from all parts of the arts and broader community for joining us today – and for your contribution in developing this plan and these reforms.

For nearly half a century the Australia Council has enjoyed strong and continuous government support – as this organisation has championed and supported the arts in Australia – assisting it to develop, grow and flourish.

We are honoured today to have the Attorney-General and Minister for the Arts, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs – sending such a strong signal about a whole of government approach to that support.I also acknowledge and welcome all my Australia Council colleagues who are here and joining online.

I am very proud to be launching our Australia Council strategic plan for the next five years.

While today is about the future, I also acknowledge the leadership of the past. We are fortunate to be building on nearly half a century of strategic investment and support of the arts, but also on a unique culture in this country that goes back some 70,000 years.

The direction we are announcing, and the reforms we are implementing, will be flexible and we hope will best support the arts sector into the future.

All of us are here because we know that the arts have a deep intrinsic value to any flourishing society, and produce measurable social and economic benefits.

Our strategic plan is about recognising the enormous potential of Australia as a culturally ambitious nation and doing our part to help realise that potential.

At the Australia Council we are humbly aware that we are only one part of the busy, dynamic arts ecology of this country, and we place enormous value on collaborative efforts to achieve our goals.  Our museums and galleries, our libraries, our festivals, the dynamic youth, artists with disability and many other parts of the sector will play an important part.

Strategic investment to support a growing and vibrant “arts ecology” has always been central to the Australia Council.

This investment and support is across several areas:

Investments in individual artists, across all the artforms  have delivered enormous cultural dividends for our nation. From David Gulpilil, Mike Nock, Tracey Moffat and Frank Moorhouse, to new sensations like Gotye and Flume – these and many more great Australian artists have been quietly nurtured by the Council over its “forty plus” year history.

Investments in hundreds of smaller arts companies, whose creativity and dynamism are recognised by audiences in all parts of the world. Back to Back Theatre, as just one example, as we speak has just completed performances at the Edinburgh Festival and is now touring Europe.

Equally, there are the great Australian performing arts companies who also perform to thousands of Australians each week and whose profile abroad has lifted our spirits, stoked our ambitions, and enhanced our standing around the world.

A thriving ecology that works together is dynamic, and is growing and changing all the time.

And to achieve this, we will also work to significantly “leverage both public and private investment in the arts”.

The five year plan we are launching today articulates a bold aspiration for the arts in this country and the role the Australia Council will play.

We also hope this plan inspires others to share our vision and be partners in pursuing it.

Today is the start of a national launch program. We will be visiting every state and territory over the coming weeks, culminating in Kalgoorlie for the Regional Arts Summit in October.

I am pleased to share the four areas of our strategy.

First, we want Australian arts to transcend borders.  That means increasing access to the arts for Australia’s regional communities, in particular maximising the impact of the National Regional Touring programs.

It means enhancing the profile of Australian arts globally and stimulating opportunities for Australian artists and arts organisations to work and collaborate internationally.

We have successfully built international markets for Australian work, but we see great potential for expanding this work.

A key initiative within the strategy will be the establishment of a world-wide network of arts managers and partners that can be accessed by Australian artists and regularly funded organisations.

I’m pleased to announce that this network already includes the establishment an International Development Manager in Europe and we plan to add further jurisdictions in the future.

Our international work is greatly enhanced by partnering across Government to leverage the greatest opportunities internationally. We are delighted to have Minister Bishop’s here, whose presence today is the strongest endorsement of the broad role of Australian arts internationally.

Second, we want Australia to be known for its great art and artists.

At its core this means building the capacity of artists to make excellent work across all art form areas.

We will achieve this in a number of ways:

Through a responsive and efficient grant program, which I will outline in a moment.

We will be examining ways to identify and develop new talent.

We will encourage and support our best artists to be ambitious, promote experimentation, risk taking and freedom of expression in their practice.

We will streamline our support for small to medium companies.

And, we will maximise opportunities for our major performing arts companies.

The Australia Council also has an important role and responsibility to develop of a stronger evidence base for the arts, which informs the national and international narrative about Australian arts.

Third, we want the arts to enrich daily life for all Australians.

Australians are increasing the engagement with the arts as both creators and consumers. We want to see a nation where artistic enterprise and respect for culture are both celebrated and entrenched.

Knowing that creativity often starts with childhood curiosity we are committed to finding more opportunities for children and young people to make and experience art. A successful example of this commitment is our partnership with the states and territories on the Artists in Residence program.

We are ambitious in wanting to see everyday life infused with the arts, by helping the arts to reach new audiences in unexpected places, events and communities.

I’m pleased to announce that the successful pilot of the Cultural Places program has led to this being included as an initiative in this plan.

Cultural Places is marked by a whole of government approach which aims to achieve greater access to high quality artistic experiences as part of everyday life for Australians no matter where they live.

And fourth, we want Australians to cherish Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts and Culture.

More Australians than ever before appreciate the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts, but too few of them have opportunities to experience it. Improving this will be a pivotal part of our work in this area.

We will work to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts into the broader Australian arts ecology, and support organisations to collaborate and program work by Indigenous artists.

We acknowledge the need to give more young Indigenous Australians the chance to practice and experience their culture, including through the critical transfer of arts and culture knowledge from elders.

We will boost investment in artistic excellence.

I’m pleased to announce that one of the ways we will achieve this is through the ‘Significant Works’ initiatives, which will enable the development of multi art form works of scale by significant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and organisations.

This strategic initiative will celebrate the richness of storytelling, and create a legacy for future generations.

And it means creating a greater awareness and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait art and culture.

While the artist is central to our work, the machinery central to enabling that work is our granting model.

I am also pleased to announce today and outline our new grants model.

The new grants model will enable an increasingly diverse range of artists and organisations to apply for funding towards the creation of excellent work and a wide range of arts activity.

With five grant programs, streamlined criteria, and opportunities to apply for multiple stages of a project in one application, we have made it simpler and easier to apply for funding.

We want to encourage ambitious projects and see more audiences captivated by work that inspires and challenges.

This is an artist-centric grants model which positively reflects extensive input from the sector.

While our grant program had served the arts well in the past, it needed to evolve with the sector and be more responsive to the new ways in which art is being made and presented.

Peer assessment remains central to grant decisions, and the new model ensures that we can draw on a large and diverse pool of experts from the sector.

The new model is more transparent and efficient, allowing the Council to be more responsive to changing artistic practice and providing greater accessibility through multiple application rounds with standardised closing dates each year.

The new grants model will consist of five programs:

•  Development grants for individuals and groups

•  Arts project grants for individuals and groups

•  Arts project grants for organisations

•  Fellowships valued at $100,000

•  Six year funding for arts organisations

Artists will be able to apply for the funding they need across a project, and focus on their artistic vision, without having to fit their practice into more narrow categories.

Only one application will be required to fund a project through the various states of the creative process.

We hope to see more sweat and tears to go into the art form, not the application form.

Our Strategic Plan is a five year plan.

Over the coming weeks we will be meeting with artists and arts organisations across our sector and across the country to discuss and outline these changes.

The announcements today are just the beginning and over the coming months we will be announcing a number of other new initiatives in support of the goals outlined.

The words of our plan are deliberate.

They mark a new language and a new level of ambition.

They articulate notions of exploration, reciprocity and expansion, of excellence, diversity and experimentation, and of access, leveraging and enrichment.

In closing, I would like to acknowledge the support of the Minister and Ministry for the Arts as we have developed this plan.

I’m very pleased that the Attorney-General and Minister for the Arts is here today to endorse this work, and I’m now delighted to introduce the Attorney, Senator George Brandis.