Media releases

Ausdance honorary life members respond to Ausdance National’s loss of operational funding

The founders and honorary life members of Ausdance—the Australian Dance Council—are extremely disappointed that an organisation with such a high national and international reputation for innovation and creativity has not been supported with four-year organisation funding by the Australia Council.

Funding cuts to the organisation’s innovative partnerships, public forums, its advocacy campaigns to support the small to medium dance sector (including years of work with the Australia Council to increase the Council’s own profile and funding—petitions to both Houses of Parliament in 2006, Dance Plan 2012 etc.); its seminal publications, dance education programs, and its international leadership in Safe Dance research leaves us believing that the Australia Council no longer sees value in the leadership shown by Ausdance National over the last four decades. We do not believe the Australia Council’s offer of ‘transitional’ or project funding would be adequate to fully support an efficient and effective arts service organisation.

Ausdance initiatives have been central to improving the health, education, employment opportunities, career transitions, research, teaching standards, and sector communication across all forms of dance in Australia. It has been especially influential in promoting dialogue between the larger Major Performing Arts companies, the small to medium companies, independent artists and the tertiary sector. 

Excellence and innovation across this whole ecology have propelled Australian dance to international recognition. Ausdance National has also worked closely with education advocates and researchers through the (unfunded) National Advocates for Arts Education, the Tertiary Dance Council of Australia and ArtsPeak. The Ausdance network offers a uniquely integrated service of international, national and state/territory activities.

To give the dance profession a credible and respected voice at the highest levels, Ausdance National has provided advice to—and fostered partnerships with—the federal departments of Education and the Arts, the Australia Council, the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), the National Library of Australia, the National Film & Sound Archive, the Australian Institute of Sport, The Australian Ballet School, NAISDA, the Vocational Education & Training authority, dance company education programs, touring networks, and international organisations such as the World Dance Alliance, the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science, the World Alliance for Arts Education, Dance UK and Dance USA.

As one artist has written:

Ausdance is an organisation that has supported and facilitated new research (Safe Dance, Brolga (journal), teacher standards), passionate dialogue (conferences, forums, ArtsPeak) and real connections amongst our diverse community of teachers, artists, government and audience. Ausdance has been a leader for all the arts and has been central to my development as a dance artist: advocating for me, supporting my wider education and providing opportunities for my emerging and then established voice to be heard. From the youth dance conferences to the national summits – we would have been lost without Ausdance. (There have been) so many more initiatives that have changed dance practices across the country and then modelled across the world.

In the current context, it is ironic that Dance UK has recently merged with two other dance agencies to create a model similar to Ausdance. As Arts Council England noted:

This commissioned grant for £650,000 a year, for three years … will strengthen the national dance infrastructure. Working through its joint national membership which includes dance agencies, higher education institutions, teachers, schools, professional dancers, choreographers and touring dance companies in every region, the consortium will support a more coherent national approach to the delivery of dance services. It will offer dance services and development across the spectrum from children and young people’s dance to professional dance practice and being representative of the creative case for diversity.

This new collaborative working model will directly benefit the 40,000 plus dance workforce, and children dancing in and outside school, and will indirectly impact on the millions of adults who participate in dance and watch performances. It will provide:

  • a single more powerful voice for dance to policy makers and politicians
  • a centralised knowledge hub
  • policy direction
  • industry intelligence
  • a three-year programme of strategic initiatives with industry-wide benefit, and
  • promote best practice and nurture talent.

The decision not to support Ausdance National is mystifying, given the reach of its services and the model it has provided for Dance UK and other international service organisations.

The small to medium cultural sector has been significantly impacted, and will result in the loss of cultural and creative capital in Australia for years to come. It defies belief that the announcement of the ‘innovation agenda’ did not include a role the arts, and that the mantra of ‘jobs and growth’ appears not to apply comprehensively to the arts community. As one of the most important contributors to the lives of all Australians, the arts and cultural sector has, at best, been marginalised. 

We call on both political parties to commit to transparent and credible arts policies to enable future large-scale decisions such as the Government’s recent restructure of arts funding programs to be made in a context that is widely understood and supported. We seek the following commitments from the Australian Government to:

  • Produce a coherent arts policy in which funding decisions are contextualised and understood by the entire cultural sector;
  • Provide appropriate funding for essential national infrastructure/service organisations including Ausdance National;
  • Immediately increase available project funding for dance organisations and independent artists;
  • Provide new funding for the Catalyst program that is not drawn from the Australia Council.

Signed, Ausdance Honorary Life Members:

Associate Professor Ralph Buck
Lee Christofis
Hilary Trotter Chuck 
Shane Colquhoun
Valda Craig
Julie Dyson AM
Annie Greig
Emeritus Professor Warren Lett
Nicky lo Bianco
Professor Shirley McKechnie AO
Sandra Macarthur-Onslow
Professor Cheryl Stock AM
Professor Susan Street AO
Paul Summers

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Dancenorth experiment fills in the blanks

Media release

Next week Dancenorth opens their tour of the double bill ‘If _ Was _’

Tour performance dates and locations

  • 9–11 June, Dancenorth, Townsville
  • 15 June, Mackay Entertainment Centre
  • 16 June Proserpine Entertainment Centre 
  • 23–25 June, Judith Wright Centre, Brisbane
  • 29 June – 2 July, the Substation, Melbourne

Delve into the fanciful and illusionary worlds of two extraordinary choreographers, Stephanie Lake and Ross McCormack, as they fall down the rabbit hole of imagination and fill in the blanks for Dancenorth’s most recent double bill.

Female dancer dressed in green leans towards her own shadow cast across the grass.Photo: Amber Haines

Dancenorth Artistic Director Kyle Page set the challenge for each artist to select sound from the one sound score, create costumes from one pattern, utilise lighting from one design and work to a set duration. It is within these parameters that If_Was_ comes to life.

'If _ Was _ is a big dance experiment, we set a clear framework for Stephanie and Ross and literally invited each of them to fill in the blanks'.

'Stephanie and Ross are two of the most extraordinary choreographic talents of our time and they will each generate something profoundly different in response to the equal limitations', said Page.

'The human mind is biologically predisposed to draw from a personal library of thoughts and feelings to generate unique interpretation, we each draw upon past experiences to create sensory representations of objects, concepts and ideas', said Page.

Hosting Lake and McCormack in Townsville to create the double bill is a bold move that reflects the vision of Dancenorth to be a collaborative and creative hub for choreographic development and research that supports risk and innovation to extend dance as an art form.

Stephanie Lake describes her new work as a surreal hive of buzzing life reflecting the beauty and brutality of the natural world.

From marching automatons to wild hybrid creatures, this work and the dancers within it are continually transmuting and being affected by their rapidly changing conditions. It's about survival, symbiosis and rebirth. Through intricate choreography and vivid imagery the dancers incubate a strange world of their own making with a desperate forward momentum.

'Dancenorth is one of the most exciting companies in Australia right now. It's incredibly energised, youthful, smart and prolific', said Stephanie.

'The dancers and collaborators are all amazing artists in their own right and bring so much to the creative process', said Stephanie. 

'If Form Was Shifted’ is the title of Ross McCormack’s new work, a virtuosic reflection of the thought process structured through group manipulation.

'What interests me is to watch the body at odds with its purpose, this is where I try to orientate most of my movement. I see the body as a device grappling with its complexities and place, how it rather unnaturally manipulates itself is somehow spectacular yet also pathetic', said Ross.

'If Form Was Shifted is foremost a collaboration between myself the Dancenorth dancers and composer Robin Fox', said Ross.

'Dancenorth has supported my work since 2009, each time hugely different from the last. The current team is quite unique which made this opportunity impossible to miss. Their enormous capacity physically and conceptual understanding provokes a huge artistic challenge to anyone’s artistic ideology', said Ross.

Dancenorth is supported by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body; the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, Townsville City council and the Tim Fairfax Foundation.

Interviews available upon request with

  • Kyle Page
  • Stephanie Lake
  • Ross McCormack

Photos provided available at higher resolution

Biographies

STEPHANIE LAKE is a multi award-winning Australian choreographer, dancer and director of Stephanie Lake Company. Stephanie’s major choreographic works including Double Blind, DUAL, A Small Prometheus, AORTA and Mix Tape have been presented by Theatre National de Chaillot (Paris), Theater im Pfalzbau (Germany), Dublin Dance Festival, Tramway (Glasgow), M1 CONTACT Festival (Singapore), Aarhus Festival (Denmark) Melbourne Festival, Sydney Festival, Dance Massive, Arts House, Sydney Opera House, Theatre Royal and Carriageworks among others. In 2014 Stephanie was awarded both the Helpmann Award (A Small Prometheus) and Australian Dance Award (AORTA) for Outstanding Choreography. She also won the Green Room Award for Mix Tape in 2011. In 2013 Stephanie was appointed inaugural Resident Director of Lucy Guerin Inc, which included working as Guerin’s choreographic assistant at Lyon Opera Ballet. Stephanie received a prestigious Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship in the same year and the Dame Peggy Van Praagh Choreographic Fellowship in 2012.  

Stephanie has been commissioned by Sydney Dance Company, Chunky Move, Tasdance, Stompin, Frontier Danceland (Singapore), Sydney Symphony and many times by the Victorian College of the Arts. She collaborates across theatre, film & TV, visual art and music video and has directed several large-scale public works involving over 1000 participants. Her performance career spans fifteen years, touring and dancing extensively with Gideon Obarzanek's Chunky Move and Lucy Guerin Inc as well as Antony Hamilton & Byron Perry, Anouk Van Dijk and Phillip Adams' BalletLab. 

ROSS McCORMACK graduated from the New Zealand School of Dance in 2001. He has worked with Douglas Wright Dance Company and the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Australian Dance Theatre.  In 2005 Ross won the Sir Robert Helpman Award for his performance in the work Held.

From 2004 Ross has worked for extensively with Alain Platel at Les Ballets C de la B in Belgium. In 2011/12 Ross performed with Australia’s Chunky Move touring Connected to the United States, In 2012  Ross joined MelbouMelbourne-based company Lucy Guerin and Dancers to tour perform in Untrained at BAM in New York England and Ireland. In 2013/14/15 Ross rejoined Les Ballets for Alian Platels new creation TauberBach.

Ross has been commissioned to choreograph several short works for New Zealand companies: (sex) (2012) and Stealth (2009), Footnote Dance; SUM- (2011),New Zealand School of Dance; and Nga hau e wha: Papa Nuku (2011), Okareka Dance Company. In Australia Ross choreographed his first full-length work Nowhere Fast (2009) for Dancenorth, Townsville, which toured to the Macau Arts Festival; [SIC] (2011) Dancenorth; and short work I said HaHa (2011) for Link Dance Company. AGE  2013/14 was Ross's first full lfull-lengthin New Zealand AGE was commissioned with the help of CNZ and the 2014 International Festival In Wellington. 2015/16 Premiered a new work Triumphs and Other Alternatives in Wellington which toured to Auckland and Sydney. In 2016  commissioned and premiered The Weight of Force at the Hong Kong Arts Festival. Ross the most recent recipient of the CNZ choreographic fellowship in New Zealand.

About Dancenorth

Dancenorth is a contemporary dance company based in Townsville, Tropical North Queensland making outstanding, bold, new critically acclaimed work. As a major champion of the arts Dancenorth balances a dynamic regional presence with a commitment to creating compelling professional contemporary dance that tours the globe.

Dancenorth is a collaborative and creative hub for choreographic development and research that makes a significant contribution to cultural development by valuing and supporting risk and innovation as a means of extending dance as an art form.

Under the Artistic Direction of Kyle Page, Dancenorth delivers an ambitious and far-reaching program of engagement including the creation and presentation of new work, national and international touring, development opportunities for local dancers and choreographers and national and international residencies and exchanges.

Dancenorth is supported by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body; the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, Townsville City council and the Tim Fairfax Foundation.

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Full house for National Arts Election Debate

Final preparations are underway for next week’s much anticipated ArtsPeak National Arts Election Debate in Melbourne.

8 June 1.00 pm – 2.30 pm
The Wheeler Centre, 176 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

The debate will bring the arts leaders of each of the three major parties together to share their big ideas and respond to the burning questions of industry leaders and commentators from right across the industry.

Patricia Karvelas (ABC and Sky news) will moderate a three-cornered conversation between Arts Minister Senator Mitch Fifield, Shadow Arts Minister Mark Dreyfus and Greens Arts Spokesperson, Adam Bandt. Using a ‘QandA style’ format, industry spokespeople will raise topics and questions developed by a national organising group.

The debate is now fully booked out and will be streamed live from 12.45 pm EST via the ArtsPeak website: www.artspeak.net.au/debate

ArtsPeak spokesperson Nicole Beyer said:

'It is really exciting to have such a broad cross section of the arts industry coming together in one place and at one time. This election is of vital importance to the arts sector and everyone is very keen to hear what the three parties have to say. With the parties now starting to release their arts policies there is a lot to talk about."

Please note: Space at the Wheeler Centre is strictly limited. Media representatives wishing to attend on the day should contact Nicole Beyer to arrange access—0432 609 658. Guests with tickets should arrive at 12.30 pm. Doors will be closed from 12.50 pm.

#AusVotesArts

#IStandWithTheArts

Further information and comment – ArtsPeak co-convenors

Nicole Beyer - 0432 609 658
Tamara Winikoff – 0411 162 156
email: [email protected]

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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. [email protected]

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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, [email protected]

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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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ArtsPeak calls for Government to act on Senate Inquiry recommendations

Media Release 7 March 2016

ArtsPeak (the confederation of Australian national peak arts organisations and state arts industry councils), at its meeting on Wednesday 2nd March, called on the Commonwealth Government to urgently provide a positive public response to the recommendations of the Senate Inquiry into the impact of the 2014 and 2015 Commonwealth Budget decisions on the Arts.

At the meeting ArtsPeak reaffirmed its full endorsement of all 13 recommendations made in the Inquiry report, highlighting two in particular that need an urgent response before the upcoming election: that the government develop and articulate an evidence-based, coherent and clear arts policy in consultation with the arts sector and that the Commonwealth government restore to the Australia Council the full amount of funds diverted from it in the 2014 MYEFO and 2014 and 15 Budgets (see full set of Senate Inquiry Recommendations attached).

Co-convenor of ArtsPeak, Nicole Beyer said today, “The time to act is now. It has been three months since the Senate Inquiry report was handed down and there has been no action from the government to implement any of the recommendations. Arts companies across the country are now starting to fail, tours are being cancelled and projects abandoned. The government needs to take responsibility, and to make clear public announcements about its intended actions in response the report.”

ArtsPeak Co-convenor Tamara Winikoff OAM agreed, 'What the Minister is being told loud and clear is that the Government’s funding cuts are destabilising the arts infrastructure to a major extent and this needs to be fixed urgently. Despite a token gesture by the Arts Minister, the cuts are incrementally crippling both small to medium arts organisations and major cultural institutions in Canberra.'

Winikoff continued, 'In an election year the arts sector is looking to the government to act quickly and decisively to properly fix the mess it has created over the last two years. Implementing the Senate Inquiry recommendations is a vital first step. The May budget is the government’s window of opportunity to restore arts funding and regain the trust of artists, organisations and arts audiences and supporters across the country.'

The Senate Inquiry recommendations encapsulated the sentiments of almost 3000 submissions from individuals and organisations as well as hundreds of people who spoke at the public hearings conducted in 10 cities around the country.

The volume of the Inquiry response and the weight and unanimity of opinion is unprecedented in the arts in Australia. It has led to a new mood of motivation and co-operation across the whole arts community to ensure that the stability and sustainability of the arts is restored.

For media comment please contact: Nicole Beyer, Director, Theatre Network Australia 0432 609 658 Tamara Winikoff OAM, Executive Director, National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) 0411 162 156 / 02 9368 1900

Recommendations of the Senate Inquiry into the impact of the 2014 and 2015

Recommendation 1

5.8 The committee recommends that the government develop and articulate, in consultation with the arts sector, a coherent and clear arts policy, including priorities for arts funding supported by evidence-based analysis, and greater clarity about the respective roles of the Ministry for the Arts and the Australia Council, as well as the other statutory arts bodies.

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Ausdance responds to Royal Commission’s public hearing into Centres for the Performing Arts

1 March 2016

Statement regarding hearings by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

Public hearing into Centres for the Performing Arts
2 March 2016

Ausdance holds the position that any abuse of a child—sexual, physical or emotional—is abhorrent. A dance studio or class is not isolated from the rest of society, no matter how special it may appear or feel. Studio owners and class teachers, like teachers and activity leaders across the whole of our community, have a special responsibility for the welfare of children in their charge. This holds whether it is a small community dance class or a large commercially-oriented studio.

A dance class or studio is first and foremost a business and as such should be subject to regulatory requirements as any business providing recreational services for children. Dance is also a key art form, which in the view of Ausdance makes any abuse of the trust placed by children in their class leaders or studio principals especially serious.

Ausdance notes that the Royal Commission is not enquiring into abuse in dance studios or the entertainment industry. Rather, the Royal Commission is hearing evidence about two specific centres for the performing arts, one of which was for dance. However, Ausdance supports the invitation for anyone who believes they have a direct and substantial interest in the scope and purpose of the public hearing to contact the Royal Commission directly.

Ausdance has a series of guides and fact sheets to assist dance teachers and dance studios. Where relevant, these guides and fact sheets have links to external authorities. The guides include:

Ausdance re-affirms its statement of 15 December 2014 Teaching dance, supporting children.

Download this statement (210 KB PDF)

Neil Roach, A/g CEO Ausdance National

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NAAE welcomes final endorsement of The Australian Curriculum: The Arts

The National Advocates for Arts Education (NAAE) welcomes the endorsement of The Australian Curriculum: The Arts by the Australian Education Council, and the release this week of the updated Australian Curriculum website (version 8.0).

The NAAE, which represents the five art forms included as separate subjects in the curriculum, has been campaigning for seven years on behalf of arts educators across the country. The Arts were not initially included in the national curriculum at all, and this week therefore marks a significant occasion, when The Arts are not only in the curriculum, but they include all five art forms: Dance, Drama, Media Arts, Music and the Visual Arts.

NAAE welcomes ACARA’s response to the Review of the Australian Curriculum, which had recommended a reduction of the Arts curriculum from five arts subject to two. In response to the review's concerns about the 'crowded curriculum', ACARA has introduced optional, single learning area achievement standards for The Arts, while keeping existing subject specific achievement standards as an alternative (NAAE's preferred option). There will be no changes to content descriptions.

The Australian Curriculum: The Arts has already received international recognition as a leader in 21st Century curriculum. Australia is in the unique position of having an Arts curriculum that provides sequential development for each art form, achieving language cohesion without homogenisation, and using appropriately more specialised language in the secondary years. The curriculum provides teachers with information for implementation support across the five art forms.

However, NAAE recognises that schools and teachers have flexibility to make decisions about how they teach the curriculum in accordance with the needs of their students, the requirements of their school and local curriculum authorities. We will continue to work on advocacy and implementation issues as the curriculum is rolled out across the country.

Download the media release. (550 KB PDF)

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2015 Australian Dance Awards announces two inductees to the Hall of Fame

The Australian Dance Awards is delighted to announce two inductees to the Hall of Fame for 2015.

The Hall of Fame is the most prestigious of all Australian Dance Awards and is made directly by the Awards Advisory Panel in recognition of the individual’s unique contribution and role in professional dance.

The inductees are Marilyn Jones OBE and Dr Elizabeth Cameron Dalman OAM, who will both attend on the night.

Marilyn Jones OBE

Marilyn Jones on pointe and wearing a white tutu, leans over arms outstretched towards Jonathan Kelly who kneels before her clasping her arms.Marilyn Jones & Jonathan Kelly rehearse Anne Wooliams' Swan Lake. 1978 Flemington studios. Photo Michael Cook

Marilyn Jones OBE, Australia’s first new prima ballerina of The Australian Ballet, founded in 1962, remains an iconic figure of dance. From her first season with the company to her last, she sustained an innately lyrical aesthetic.

Her warmth and humility in the classics made her a favourite with audiences nationally and abroad. She was Artistic Director from 1979—1982.

Today Marilyn is the artistic director of the Australian Institute of Classical Dance, which she established during an Australia Council Creative Artists Fellowship to produce a new, Australian ballet-training syllabus.

In 1996 she launched the Dance Creation competition for emerging choreographers. Marilyn continues to lead the Institute’s valuable work, which comprises workshops for students, teachers’ seminars, examinations, scholarship competitions and residencies at the Royal New Zealand Ballet School and the Houston Ballet School in Texas USA.

Elizabeth Cameron Dalman OAM

A black and white photo of Elizabeth Cameron Dalman jumps high in the air, head stretched back, with arms reaching above her. She is smiling.Elizabeth, 1974. Photo: Jan Dalman

Nationally and internationally renowned as a director, choreographer, teacher and performer, Elizabeth is one of our foremost dance pioneers. A passionate artist with a life-long dedication to dance, Elizabeth has been a prime mover in shaping the Australian dance landscape for over 50 years.

Part of a generation of artists seeking a spiritual and holistic way of expressing themselves, she has helped to define Australia's cultural identity and expression in the modern world and has made a significant and lasting impact on the development of Australian contemporary dance.

Originally trained in Adelaide, Elizabeth left to study with remarkable choreographers before returning to found and lead Australian Dance Theatre, following which she taught and choreographed in Europe before returning to the freelance life in Australia and founding Mirramu Creative Arts Centre in New South Wales.

She continues to dance, teach and choreograph around the world.

The Australian Dance Awards 2015

The Australian Dance Awards 2015 are presented by Ausdance and Harlequin Floors with the Adelaide Festival Centre, 7.30 pm on 12 September at Her Majesty’s Theatre Adelaide. Get your Australian Dance Awards tickets from BASS outlets.

Ausdance thanks presenting partner Harlequin Floors and the Adelaide Festival Centre, Equity, AON Risk Management Services, Innovation & Business Skills Australia, Australian Dance Theatre and TAFE SA, and welcomes new partners Gaynor Minden and Novatech Creative Event Technology.

Ausdance National is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Neil Roach, Project Officer for the Australian Dance Awards 2015

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ArtsPeak’s response to the draft guidelines for the National Program for Excellence in the Arts

ArtsPeak's response to National Program for Excellence in the Arts draft guidelines (360KB PDF)

Dear Minister Brandis

Re: draft guidelines for the National Program for Excellence in the Arts (NPEA)

ArtsPeak (the confederation of Australian national peak arts organisations and arts industry councils) welcomes the opportunity to respond to the recently released draft guidelines for the Federal Government’s National Program for Excellence in the Arts (NPEA). ArtsPeak particularly welcomes the Government’s statement about the intrinsic value of the arts:

While valuing the many secondary benefits which flow from arts activities, the Program seeks to celebrate the intrinsic capacity of the arts to engage, inspire and make meaning for all Australians.

1. Sustainability

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Honorary life members add their voices in support of the Australia Council

3 June 2015

Senator The Hon. George Brandis QC
Attorney-General and Minister for the Arts
PO Box 6100
Senate, Parliament House
CANBERRA  ACT  2600


Dear Senator Brandis,

We, the undersigned honorary life members of the Australian Dance Council – Ausdance, write to add our voices to the many letters and statements made in support of the Australia Council. The Australian arts profession has fought hard over many years for the independence and peer review principles embedded in the Australia Council’s charter, and we are now concerned that a commitment to excellence through the peer review process will be compromised as further cuts and conditions are imposed on the smaller organisations by a reduced Australia Council. This decision has the potential to dismantle much of the Australian dance ecology and dissipate the constantly growing audience it has developed over the last decade.

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ArtsPeak calls for Senate Inquiry

Ausdance joins other members of ArtsPeak (the confederation of national peak arts organisations) in calling for a Senate Inquiry into the recent federal Budget announcement that $104.8m over 4 years will be stripped from the appropriation of the Australia Council for the Arts to establish a National Programme for Excellence in the Arts (NPEA) under the control of the Arts Minister.

ArtsPeak aims to ensure that Australians can continue to enjoy diverse rich cultural experiences at all levels. Until the outcome of a Senate Inquiry, we call on Senator Brandis to restore all the funding cut from the Australia Council and its programs, and repeal his decision to establish the NPEA.

Read the full media release: ArtsPeak Calls for Senate Inquiry

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New artistic leadership for Dancenorth

North Queensland’s contemporary dance company has announced the appointment of its new artistic leaders. In the wake of the company’s September announcement of a new structure to support a reinvigorated artistic model, Mr Trevor Goldstone, Chair of the Dancenorth’s Board of Directors, announced today (5 December) of the appointment of three artistic leaders who will steer the company into the future.

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Why the arts curriculum review recommendations should be rejected!

Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne commissioned the Review of the Australian Curriculum earlier this year and its recommendations were recently made public. The National Advocates for Arts Education (NAAE) have concerns about the recommendations that relate to The Australian Curriculum: The Arts.

Today the NAAE sent letters to the federal, state and territory education ministers asking them to reject these recommendations when they meet with Minister Pyne in December to consider the Review. Here is the NAAE's letter and detailed responses to each of the Review’s recommendations (see appendix).

The National Advocates for Arts Education believe that, after an extremely rigorous development and writing process by ACARA, in consultation with teachers and the arts industry, we have achieved a well-written and well-researched national arts curriculum that has been endorsed across the teaching and practice professions. The Australian Curriculum: the Arts was endorsed by state and territory Education Ministers in July 2013 (subject to resolution of some matters raised by one state). We are concerned the Review’s recommended changes would severely compromise a curriculum that has taken four years of careful work to produce.

The Arts curriculum must be allowed to follow ACARA’s evaluation process after being properly implemented by classroom teachers. All curriculum is reviewed and refined over time; however it is only after implementation and with consultation that this process should occur. Notably, most state and territory jurisdictions have already begun to seriously invest in the implementation of the Arts curriculum, and we do not believe that the recommendation to rewrite it has been justified.

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The National Advocates for Arts Education respond to the Review of the Australian Curriculum

Media Release

The future of The Australian Curriculum: The Arts
A response to the Review of the Australian Curriculum, October 2014
(550 kb PDF)

The National Advocates for Arts Education (NAAE) acknowledge the Review of the Australian Curriculum – Final Report (pp.213–220) and welcome its general statements about the value of the arts in formal school education. The NAAE also welcomes the report’s emphasis on the need for greater teacher professional development in the arts.

However, we consider this review to be premature. There has been little opportunity to test the five arts subjects in the classroom, and, as we noted in our submission to the review, we ‘strongly urge the review panel to enable the Australian Curriculum: The Arts to be implemented in its present form, allowing processes of refinement to be managed by classroom teachers. It is a living document that can be refined by expert arts educators as it unfolds across the country’. Teachers need to implement, test and reflect on the current well-developed arts curricula and NAAE rejects the recommendation that ‘the content of each of the arts forms needs to be restructured and re-sequenced along the lines suggested by the (two) subject matter specialists employed by this review’.

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Review of The Australian Curriculum: The Arts

The National Advocates for Arts Education (NAAE) made a submission to the review panel for the Australian Curriculum (500 KB PDF) strongly urging it to recommend that the Australian Curriculum: The Arts be implemented in its present form. The NAAE said that processes of refinement should be managed by classroom teachers piloting the curriculum, not a review panel.

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Buzz & STEPS to form new company

The Boards of STEPS Youth Dance and Buzz Dance Theatre plan to create a new West Australian contemporary dance company.

The unanimous decision by both Boards has come after months of consultation. STEPS and Buzz will continue their respective operations until the end of 2014.

Pamela-Jayne Kinder, Chair of Buzz, said the State Government’s Future Moves investment of $1.6 million over four years has strengthened the contemporary dance sector in Western Australia, and the Boards see this as an important response in creating a more sustainable future for the dance sector.

The new company will continue to inspire young people, offer extraordinary dance experiences for young people, support dance in education, and maintain creative opportunities for choreographers.

Read the full Media Release.

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Good news from major performing arts companies

The latest Australia Council Snapshot of Major Performing Arts Company Key Trends shows that Australia’s major performing arts companies are robust, stable and have continued to expand their city audiences in line with population growth. They have also extended their reach and engagement in regional and remote communities.

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Nanette Hassall—Award for Lifetime Achievement 2012

Nanette Hassall is the 2012 recipient of the Australian Dance Award for Lifetime Achievement. This Award honours the career and achievements of an outstanding senior figure in the Australian dance community who has dedicated at least 40 years to dance as a performer, choreographer, advocate, educator, administrator or visionary.

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NAAE welcomes arts curriculum

The National Advocates for Arts Education (NAAE) have welcomed the release of The Australian Curriculum: The Arts for public consultation.

Launching the draft on Monday, Schools Minister Peter Garrett said that he had been "a passionate advocate of the importance of arts as part of a comprehensive, well-rounded education", and that learning in the arts "inspires creativity, encourages young people to think critically, helps develop their sense of identity and can provide great benefits for learning in other core areas".

The NAAE is now advocating for improved teacher education in the arts, and for the allocation of more resources to enable the arts curriculum to be properly implemented.

The NAAE has released a media statement today supporting the draft curriculum, while noting that 'there is still work to do'.

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Responses to the Australia Council Review

The Australia Council Review was a comprehensive and complex document covering many facets of governance, funding, peer review and relationships with other agencies, plus important recommendations for additional arts funding.

Ausdance responded to the Review, as did many other arts organisations and individuals.

We then joined with ArtsPeak colleagues to make a joint statement where there was common agreement across art forms.

We now await the Government's response to this consultation, and the eventual release of the National Cultural Policy.

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The Budget and the arts

In an announcement made by Arts Minister Simon Crean, last night's Federal Budget revealed some welcome new money for the arts, and a new income tax-free threshold of $18,000, which will be of great benefit to the many artists who live close to the poverty line.

As co-convenors of ArtsPeak, Tamara Winikoff and I met this morning with the Minister's arts adviser, Helen O'Neil, for a post-Budget briefing. We discussed many issues around the Budget, including the whole-of-government approach to arts funding, philanthropy and delivery which will be outlined when the National Cultural Policy and the Australia Council review are finally released.

Tamara and I have made an Artspeak statement which reiterates some of the issues already flagged in previous submissions to the National Cultural Policy, and welcoming the new funding in the Budget.

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National Cultural Policy—messages from the field

We've joined our colleages at ArtsPeak and the Council for Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences (CHASS) to comment on the delay in releasing the National Cultural Policy.

On a positive note, the delay will enable us to look more closely at the small to medium performing and visual arts sectors and prepare a more detailed submission to Government. We'll keep you posted about progress once next week's Federal Budget has been delivered.

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