News: May 2017

National forum to explore dance practice in the digital age


16 May 2017

The 2017 National Dance Forum will bring together makers, producers and presenters to discuss and share knowledge on current digital practices and technological developments. The two-day forum will focus on strengthening the dance sector’s capacity within the digital domain.

Led by the dance sector’s advocate for 40 years—Ausdance National—the fourth National Dance Forum (NDF2017) will take place at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, 25–26 September 2017 and will follow the Australian Dance Awards (Arts Centre Melbourne, 24 September 2017).

Dance artists, companies, presenters and researchers looking for ways to grow meaningful audience relationships and understand the issues around making art in a digital environment, need to attend.

‘The NDF2017 will facilitate the exchange of ideas, strengthen industry collaboration, and focus on the application of technical skills and resources—a tangible expression of Ausdance's 40th year of supporting, educating and inspiring Australia’s dance sector’, says Associate Professor Gene Moyle, who was recently appointed National President of the Australian Dance Council—Ausdance. 

‘We are very grateful to the Australia Council for the Arts for their support, and thank in advance the Ausdance network, Australian dance companies and service organisations that will work together to create this essential sector gathering', says Gene.

The NDF2017 program will be developed in consultation with a curatorial panel, with keynotes given by Wesley Enoch, David Throsby and Sue Healey. Speakers from other organistions such as BlakDance, the Australian Major Performing Arts Group (AMPAG), the ABC, the Sydney Opera House, Carriageworks and Arts Front will be invited to participate. One section within the NDF program will focus on ‘the pitch’, with curated independent artists in 3-minute practitioner presentations focused on advocacting their work to new audiences.

Ausdance Victoria will produce the event alongside the Australian Dance Awards in September. ‘We look forward to coming together at the 2017 National Dance Forum, for artists and companies to explore and discuss technological innovations that help to build new audiences across Australia and beyond’, says Michelle Silby, Executive Director, Ausdance Victoria and Director, Ausdance NSW. 

‘Forums such as these are essential for keeping dance practice and business both current and valid, and are vital for ensuring the longevity of the dance ecology’, says Elizabeth Vilmanis, Brisbane Dance Artists Hub co-founder and moderator.

The NDF2017 program will be released in July. For further details, updates and to contribute, visit the NDF2017 page on the Ausdance National website. Follow NDF 2017 on Twitter @natdanceforum, #natdanceforum, and Ausdance National Facebook.

Contact: Rachael Jennings, Communications & Publications Manager, Australian Dance Council—Ausdance Inc., Tel: +61 2 6182 0081, email

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

National Dance Forum 2017, 25-26 September, Melbourne. visit

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ArtsPeak update May 2017

ArtsPeak’s new goal

Drafted at its planning session in Sydney on 15–16 March, the following new goal will be included as a discussion point in the next ArtsPeak meeting in September:

That the cultural, arts and creative industries are central to political thinking, economic priorities and civic life in Australia.

Addressing that goal, the intended outcomes are:

  • A national cultural policy that integrates with other policy areas and across the jurisdictions.
  • Increased sustainability of cultural, artistic and creative practice.
  • Artspeak is recognised as an alliance of the cultural, arts and creative industry sectors. 

The planning session was facilitated by Fiona Winning and included a meeting with the Australia Council, a discussion on changes to the membership and development of short and long-term strategies. New peak body members have joined ArtsPeak this year: BlakDance (Merindah Donnelly), Blakfella Performing Arts Alliance (Eva Grace Mullaley), Creative Recovery Network (Scotia Monkivich), Institute for Creative Health (Maz McGann) and Australian Craft and Design (Lisa Cahill).

Our advocacy planning for the year is underway: monitoring impact to sector of changes to 457 visas; a meeting scheduled with the Opposition; and of course monitoring and responding to the arts allocations in Tuesday's budget. We have also been supporting the journalists’ campaign against job cuts #fairgofairfax which will have a major impact on arts features, books and film reviews in Fairfax newspapers.

Changes to ArtsPeak executive and membership – thanks Tamara Winikoff!

by ArtsPeak convenor, Nicole Beyer

After 18 years as a driving force behind ArtsPeak, Tamara Winikoff Executive Director of NAVA, has stepped down as co-convenor. Together with Ausdance’s Julie Dyson until Julie 'retired' (refocused) in 2014, Tamara has lead multiple successful campaigns for ArtsPeak, not least of which was her role in the #freethearts campaign, which ultimately resulted in the axing of Catalyst. In the early days, Tamara and Julie lead several campaigns around changes to copyright and tax rulings, especially taxation ruling TR 2005/1 which recognised professional arts practice as a legitimate business. We thanked Tamara at an impromptu gathering on 16 March. Tamara will remain a part of the ArtsPeak membership and on the Interim Executive. 

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National Advocates For Arts Education May 2017 update

by Julie Dyson, Chair

NAAE is coordinating the publication of a new edition of its highly successful More Than Words Can Say – a View of Literacy Through the Arts, last updated in 2003. This has meant re-engaging with the original authors and commissioning a new Foreword. We’re delighted to announce that this will be written by arts educator Professor Robyn Ewing AM of the University of Sydney, author of the influential research paper The Arts and Australian Education: Realising potential.

The dance chapter has been revised by Sue Fox, Principal Education Officer (Dance & Drama) at the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (and an NAAE member), with support from the original author, Ralph Buck. We look forward to publishing the completed edition with all arts forms later this year.

In the meantime NAAE is in the process of setting up a meeting in June with the Ministry for the Arts in Canberra to explore the possibility of bringing together some of Australia’s leading STEAM advocates. We recognise that there is good work currently being done across Australia to have the Arts included in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) agenda, but we think it would be beneficial to come together to map some combined advocacy strategies.

Also on the NAAE’s radar is sharing information with the new Labor for the Arts group, which we note has indicated a strong interest in arts education. We have proposed a meeting to introduce the NAAE and its work, and to find out more about this group’s aspirations. The group was launched in March by Shadow Arts Minister Tony Burke, followed by a panel discussion with industry leaders discussing cultural diversity in the arts. You can learn more from their Facebook page. In the meantime, NAAE maintains its policy of advocating for arts education to all political parties and politicians in Canberra, and we look forward to further meetings in Canberra soon.

Finally, we congratulate NAAE member John Saunders, President of Drama Australia and Education Manager at Sydney Theatre Company for his new publication (with Prof. Ewing) The School Drama Book: Drama, Literature and Literacy in the Creative Classroom. John has also written a very interesting article, Drama in the Australian national curriculum – the role of advocacy, which documents the role of advocacy in the arts, and includes the influence of NAAE in the development of The Australian Curriculum: The Arts. John will also represent NAAE at a Labor for the Arts education and the arts forum to be held on Saturday 29 July at the Sydney Town Hall. 

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Ausdance National Council President’s Report – May 2017

Following the Annual General Meeting on 19 March 2017, the new skills-based board members of the Ausdance National Council formally commenced in their new director roles. It has been great to connect as a group not only in better understanding the breadth of experience that each team member brings to the responsibility of leading Ausdance National, but how passionate everyone is about Ausdance and the dance sector in general! 

The new board met for the first time in Canberra last weekend, and it was an excellent opportunity for the team to be able to review and move forward with a range of initiatives that the Interim Executive outlined via their 2017 Strategic Plan; in addition to the identification of new approaches that will assist in working to fulfil our commitment to our members and the broader community, as the peak body for dance in Australia.

On behalf of my colleagues, I would like to extend our thanks to the Interim Executive—Shane Colquhoun, Henry Laska, Paul Summers, Peter Bayliss, in addition to Honorary Life Member Julie Dyson, for their extraordinary work during this transitional time, and for providing us with a strong platform on which to build.

Furthermore, thank you to all the Ausdance state office staff, executive directors/directors and board members who have been very helpful in supporting the strengthening of our connections with and across the network already, including exploring the best way forward to work together effectively to achieve our collective goals. Stay tuned for further updates!

We would also like to thank the Australia Council for providing the funding that enables the board to meet face-to-face on a number of occasions throughout 2017. With the diverse spread of board members located across the nation, the opportunity to meet in person is critical which, alongside regular teleconferences, will look to support our ability to move the Ausdance agenda forward in an efficient and effective way.

The planning for the Australian Dance Awards on Sunday 24 September 2017 is well under way, and we would like to acknowledge the significant work of Michelle Silby and her Ausdance Victoria team as the hosting partner, and our ongoing sponsors and supporters of the event. Given 2017 marks the 40th Anniversary year for Ausdance, these awards will be a significant milestone in marking this special occasion—please save the date!

On another note, it is Australian Dance Week this week and there have been a wonderful array of activities happening across the country. To keep up with what’s on in your local area, check out the News & Events information.

Happy Australian Dance Week!

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World Dance Alliance May 2017 update

This year’s World Dance Alliance (WDA) Global Summit will be held in St John’s, Newfoundland from 23–28 July. Australian Cheryl Stock, AM has stepped down from the role of Secretary-General of WDA, having introduced new protocols, policies and procedures to the organisation and facilitating the re-forming of WDA Europe, which had not been active for some years. She also coordinated the wonderful 2014 Global Summit in Angers, France and edited the peer-reviewed papers, many presented by Australian scholars, choreographers and performers. These have been published by Ausdance, and provide (with the more recently published 2015 Dance and the Child International papers) a wonderful insight into dance processes across all genres.

Over 100 World Dance Alliance Global Summit 2012 participants on university entrance staircase holding country flags. 2012 WDA Global Summit, Taiwan. Photo: Julie Dyson.

Cheryl has been succeeded by Dr Anis Mohd Nor of Malaysia, also a distinguished scholar and long-time participant and organiser of WDA events. Anis will chair the Global Executive meeting in July, and I will join the meeting as the independent member elected in 2011. We’ll provide an update after the meeting about developments, particularly those that provide opportunities for young scholars and choreographers. 

In the meantime, the Global Education & Training network of WDA, co-chaired by Ralph Buck and Jeff Meiners, has been working with WDA and dance and the Child International (daCi) to prepare for the second joint world congress (the first was in Taiwan in 2012), in Adelaide next year (8–13 July). Panpapanpalya 2018 will focus on four interwoven themes: dance, gathering, generations, learning. These themes, summarised by the Aboriginal Kaurna word Panpapanpalya, honour Australia’s rich Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dance practices, as well as indigenous dance cultures from around the world.

The new Panpapanpalya 2018 website has just been launched, and you are encouraged to submit proposals for papers and performances by the due dates. As an Ausdance member you will receive a discount for registration and other benefits.

I will be in Wellington later this month, and have arranged to meet with Anton Carter, CEO of Dance Aotearoa New Zealand (DANZ) for an update on his role as WDA Asia Pacific Vice-President (Pacific). Anton has fantastic dance networks across the Pacific and he will be working with WDA to promote the many and varied dance cultures that exist in the Pacific region. It will also be an opportunity to share news of Panpapanpalya 2018 with him—it would be wonderful to have Pacific dance cultures represented in big numbers next year!

Another wonderful opportunity available to Australian Ausdance members is the International Young Choreographer Program (ICYP), which offers fellowships to eight young artists: three from Taiwan, three from other Asia Pacific countries, and one each from WDA Europe and WDA Americas.

This year’s Australian young choreographer, Scott Ewen, has been selected to participate in ICYP in Taiwan, to be held in July this year. Scott also attended the WDA Choreolab as a a highly regarded choreographer last year in Seoul. 

Don’t forget the biannual publication, Asia Pacific Channels and the valuable archive of editions back to 1996. Channels has been designed and published by Ausdance National’s Rachael Jennings for many years, with co-editor Bilqis Hijjas (Malaysia), but it was first published by WDA founder Carl Wolz in 1994 with Ausdance National’s Hilary Trotter.

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