News: May 2016

2016 International Arts Education Week message by Li Cunxin

The World Alliance for Arts Education and UNESCO share an inspiring message for International Arts Education Week (23–29 May) by Li Cunxin (Mao's Last Dancer), Artistic Director, Queensland Ballet:

In a world of constant pressures, of noise, of expectations and distractions, art can be the thing that sustains us. Art has the capacity to take us to another world; allows an escape even if just for a moment. Be it in a gallery, a theatre, a music studio or on the street, art is a powerful thing. It has the power to transform, to transport, to enrich and therefore, sustain.

My world of ballet is one such artform. In my experience ballet, and the personal nature of creative expression, is a power like no other. I truly believe ballet can sustain communities by enriching lives through prioritising physical and mental wellbeing, connecting diverse communities with each other and bridging socio-cultural divides.

True art should not exclude, it should invite all to explore, experience and enjoy. Ballet can do just that. Ballet develops individual skills such as confidence, creativity, reflection, determination, persistence, and resilience. It encourages a drive for excellence and can develop skills that can sustain us for life, with many great artists taking on leadership roles and becoming shapers of society.

I would not be the dancer I became or the person I am today without the incredible arts education I received as a young person. Knowing how vital that training was to me, I have long been committed to the development of young people in the arts. It’s something that is at the very heart of my vision personally and professionally. A key part of that development is finding what makes people passionate.

Passion is the most important thing in achieving one’s best and is what sustains one in reaching for a goal. Passion made me work harder than most, passion made me hungry and drove me to pursue perfection and excellence. To catch up to my fellow classmates and to improve, I often woke up at 5am or earlier to practice, hopping one-legged with sandbags strapped to my ankles and pirouetting under the candle lights to gain the necessary muscle strength for jumping and turning, I did this for years. Hard work paid off, I graduated as one of the top dancers in China and the rest is history.

I found my passion for ballet thanks to an incredible teacher I had, Teacher Xiao. I credit Teacher Xiao with changing my outlook on life, for inspiring me, for making me who I am today and for igniting my passion. That passion for ballet was what sustained me through years of being away from my family, through all the challenges and hard work.

I hope many others will benefit from arts education like I have. They may not all grace the stage, but I do believe it will transform their lives and the lives of those around them. I do believe arts education will not only help sustain our precious artforms but also our communities. Creating passionate people that strive to understand, respect and challenge each other.

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Dancenorth hosts inclusive professional dance exchange

Adelaide Dancer Chris Dyke has returned to Townsville as part of the first ongoing inclusive professional dance exchange in Australia.

Dancenorth's Kyle Page and Chris Dyke in front of a fig tree's giant roots. Chris Dyke and Kyle Page. Photo: Amber Haines

During the two-week secondment, Chris has choreographed a new solo work with the guidance of his mentor, Dancenorth Artistic Director Kyle Page, trained with the company each day and watched dancers rehearse for their upcoming performance of ‘If _ Was _’ a double bill created by Stephanie Lake and Ross McCormack.

Chris, who visited Townsville from Adelaide based Restless Dance Theatre and has Downs syndrome, described the opportunity as “a dream come true”.

"When I come here we do workshops and I make friends with the Dancenorth team, then we work on my choreography. Working with Kyle is my dream. My other dream is to create a 3D film with live dance for me to perform in SA, Sydney, Townsville, NYC and the world. I want to put my dance film on TV, YouTube and all over Facebook.”

Chris’ mentor Kyle said it is vital to have these opportunities and to highlight the immense benefit for not only Chris but also the Dancenorth Ensemble.

“Chris is a very talented dancer who inspires me daily, I actually can’t be sure who gets the most out of this exchange, him or me. That is the magic of mentoring—it is a two-way street.”

“Chris is extraordinarily creative, passionate, calm and generous; it is this combined with immense talent that led me to want to work with him in an ongoing exchange of ideas and movement” he said.

“Dancenorth is currently developing a proactive disability action plan ensuring we offer an inclusive environment filled with genuine collaboration and opportunities for all abilities,” he said.

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ArtsPeak calls for restoration of Australia Council Funding

Media Release, 16 May 2016

ArtsPeak, the national confederation of peak arts and cultural organisations, says the Australian arts ecology is under serious threat following the announcement of four-year funding decisions by the Australia Council.

Sixty-five previously funded organisations have lost funding for their core operations and of the 262 applications to the round, over half were not funded. It seems clear from these statistics that the jobs and growth mantra does not apply to the arts.

Nicole Beyer, ArtsPeak co-convenor and Director of Theatre Network Australia said: 'This is an incredibly tough time for the arts sector. We go from relief at the news of a company that has been successful to sadness when we hear of really vital and outstanding organisations that have missed out. We know that the Australia Council has been stretched. We know people will have been doing their very best in an incredibly difficult situation. There is a lot of support within the sector for those who missed out this time round and everyone understands it is no reflection on the quality or importance of their work'. 

With the Federal election looming, ArtsPeak is calling for the restoration of Australia Council funding as a matter of urgency so that the Australian arts ecology can remain viable and vibrant. This call was made unanimously by 2700 individuals and organisations in submissions to last year’s Senate inquiry into arts funding, the largest ever response to such an inquiry.

Tamara Winikoff OAM, ArtsPeak co-convenor and Executive Director of the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA), said today: 'It couldn't be clearer that essential ingredients are missing: a national plan for growing and valuing Australian cultural ideas and expression; political courage to embrace experimentation and risk taking; celebration of the arts as core to our national character and achievement; and a real investment in building a vibrant, confident arts environment. It's time to stop tinkering at the edges. The arts has proved itself time and again to be an incredibly valuable investment. Please can we see all the political parties put this on the election agenda.'

ArtsPeak urges politicians to recognise the value of arts and culture to all Australians, to invest in it appropriately and to ensure that the arms-length approach to funding decisions in the arts is maintained.

Media release also available on the NAVA website: ArtsPeak calls for restoration of Australia Council Funding

For media comment please contact:

Tamara Winikoff OAM, Executive Director, National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) 0411 162 156 / 02 9368 1900

Nicole Beyer, Director, Theatre Network Australia 0432 609 658

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Ausdance National faces challenge

13 May 2016 media release

The Australian Dance Council—Ausdance congratulates the 12 dance organisations which were successful in the four-year funding announcements by the Australia Council. There is a solid core of highly creative, inspiring and highly productive organisations to create and tour dance around Australia and overseas.

Regrettably, the Australian Dance Council—Ausdance Inc (Ausdance National) finds itself amongst the 62 previously funded organisations that have not been successful. Ausdance National has been notified by the Australia Council that it will not receive operational funding beyond 31 December this year. This brings to an end many years of operational support for the work of Ausdance National.  

Ausdance National has supported the dance industry through development projects such as the National Dance Forum, the Australian Dance Awards, Safe Dance® research, organising the annual meeting of dance company managers, and publishing authoritative guidelines for teaching dance and academic articles about dance. It was the organisation the Royal Commission called on for consultation in private meetings. Ausdance also holds bequests from Dame Peggy van Praagh and Keith Bain to award to professional dancers each year.  

Neil Roach, the Acting CEO of Ausdance National, said today: “Ausdance National has a 40 year legacy of solid support for the dance industry. While there are a number of associated State and Territory Ausdance offices supporting their local dance industry, as a peak body Ausdance National has had the overview of the entire sector and the national and global links to truly support the development of professional dance. This has now been put at risk.”

Ausdance National President, Brian Lucas, said today “Ausdance has been a key player in the development of the Australian dance sector over the past four decades. In that time, the organisation has adapted and grown, demonstrating both the ability to be responsive to the changing needs of its membership and a willingness to assist in driving the growth and strength of the sector through the implementation of key initiatives and programmes. 

It would be virtually impossible to find a dancer, choreographer, dance teacher, dance student, dance academic, or dance audience member who has not been positively and substantially impacted by the activities of the organisation.

Now it is time for Ausdance National to draw on its substantial reserves of experience, knowledge and resourcefulness as we adapt and respond to our drastically changed circumstances. 

The mission of the organisation—to educate, inspire and support the dance community to reach its potential as a dynamic force within local, national and international communities—remains steadfast and unchanged. Our challenge is to assess how best to ensure that this vital mission can be maintained and upheld during this difficult period in Australian arts history, and into the future.”

For media comment and enquiries please contact:

Neil Roach, Acting CEO, Australian Dance Council—Ausdance (Ausdance National) on
02 6248 8992. ceo@ausdance.org.au

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ArtsPeak Arts Sector Update #1 2016—an invitation to sector meetings and the Election Debate

Arts Sector update. ArtsPeak—April 2016

Welcome! ArtsPeak is producing a series of National Arts Sector Updates in the lead-up to the Federal election in July.  This work picks up on last year's Free the Arts updates and is being delivered as part of our partnership with Feral Arts. A National Election Strategy Group is coordinating the work. Membership is open to anyone. If you would like to get involved email contact@artspeak.net.au

Please share this update in your networks and with your members.

Register to get future email updates.

National Arts Election Debate 2016

ArtsPeak is organising a National Arts Election Debate in Melbourne on the 8 June. The debate will bring the arts leaders of each of the major parties together to share their big ideas and respond to the burning questions of industry leaders and commentators from across the industry. 

Patricia Karvelas (ABC and Sky news) will moderate a three-cornered contest. Arts Minister Senator Mitch Fifield has been invited, and Shadow Arts MinisterMark Dreyfus and Greens Arts Spokesperson, Adam Bandt are already confirmed. Space is limited so book early.

The debate will be live streamed—details to follow in future updates.

Election debate questions

Ideas for questions for the debate are being gathered online. Everyone is invited to add their thoughts. The final list of questions will be distilled by a steering group of representatives from across the sector.

Add your ideas

National Arts Sector Meeting

  • Where: Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall , Queensberry St, North Melbourne, Victoria 
  • When: 12.45 pm – 5.00 pm, 7 June
  • Register for the National Arts Sector Meeting (Space is limited, so please book early.)

In conjunction with the National Arts Election Debate, we are organising a National Arts Sector Meeting in Melbourne on h June—the day before the Debate. We hope that sector reps from across the country will be able to make it Melbourne for the meeting (and the Debate the following day). An agenda will be developed closer to the day.  We need a group of Melbourne-based people to help out with the organisation of the day. If you can help, please visit our Google doc to connect.

Communications and social media

Collaborative Online Space

We have set up a Google docs folder to help people connect and work together during the campaign.

Media coverage has started to pick up again and we encourage everyone to start to speak up and make noise again. 

Recent Media Highlights include:

Facebook

We are continuing to post updates to the Free the Arts Facebook page.

It would be great to get some more active sharing and commenting on this page over the coming weeks.

Twitter #AusVotesArts

We propose all using this one hashtag for the period leading up to the election. 

Wherever possible it would good to also use #AusVotes with it to make sure the arts issue are part of the broader election sharing.

For more info or feedback

contact@artspeak.net.au

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New low as Government pumps Catalyst funds out the door in blatant pre-election pork barreling

ArtsPeak Media Release (45 KB PDF)
9 May 2016

The arts sector is reeling today at news that an extraordinary $13m in Catalyst funds were secretly pushed out the door over the weekend just in advance of the election being called and caretaker mode beginning.

In total $23,317,301 has now been spent – nearly half the $48m allocated for the next 4 years of Catalyst operations. When Senate Estimates sat last Thursday evening the committee were only made aware of the $10m of grants announced by Arts Minister Mitch Fifield last week.

ArtsPeak spokeperson and CEO of the National Association of Visual Arts NAVA Tamara Winikoff said:

Our worst suspicions are now being confirmed that the government is using arts funding for thinly disguised political purposes. Of course we congratulate the successful applicants and we hope at least some of the cash splash lands in places that will help sustain artists who will be hit hard by this week’s Australia Council 4 year funding announcements. It just makes a complete mockery of all the hard work artists do in planning their programs and making applications. What is going to happen over the next four years now that half the Catalyst money is gone?

The arts and cultural sector has been further confused by the allocation of significant monies to capital works projects such as the $1m for the redevelopment of the Primrose Potter Australian Ballet Centre. This would appear to fall outside the remit and original intention of the Catalyst Fund.

It simply is not appropriate for Catalyst to fund things like this regardless of how important it might be. The capacity of the sector to be adventurous and innovative is being smothered in favour of government anointed programs. Funding for capital works should come from other sources – not cripple the already scant funding available to small to medium companies and individual artists who are actually innovating. This sends a terrible message to the arts community about the government’s priorities ahead of the election.

For further comment contact Tamara Winikoff – 0411 162156, contact@artspeak.net.au

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Government turns its back on the opportunity to fix arts funding mess

ArtsPeak—Confederation of Peak National Arts Organisations

Media Release, 4 May 2016 (31KB PDF)

Hopes that the government would take the opportunity to fix the mess it created twelve months ago were dashed, with no mention of arts and culture in the pre-election Budget handed down in Canberra last night.

ArtsPeak spokesperson and Executive Director of the National Association for the Visual Arts, Tamara Winikoff OAM said, “Unfortunately when it comes to the arts, it seems this government is not concerned about forcing job losses and causing chaos, the very opposite of the PM’s mantra about jobs and growth. The 2016 Budget does nothing to redress the devastating impact of the cuts to the Australia Council and ongoing ‘efficiency dividend’ imposed by the government in 2014 and 2015. The cuts total more than $42 million/year. Massive destabilisation of the arts industry is resulting from decisions made by the current government, and without any policy framework, it looks set to continue.”

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