Ausdance announces new constitution and interim executive leadership

As a member of the Australian dance sector, I wanted to let you know of some changes to Ausdance National in recent weeks.

In September 2016 the Ausdance National Council agreed to significant changes to the Constitution—moving away from a network-led board to a new skills-based governance structure and extending the membership to engage more directly with a range of stakeholders. We are opening up membership at a national level to engage directly with individuals through the state and territory offices.

At the same meeting it was agreed that an interim executive would join National Council members until early 2017 to implement these changes. Paul Summers (Vic), Henry Laska (ACT) and myself have joined Treasurer Peter Bayliss as the interim executive. The past executive—Brian Lucas, Claudia Alessi and Marilyn Miller—will continue to provide support and advice as required.

While the world of dance has changed dramatically since the founding of Ausdance in 1977, the defining traits of the organisation are still relevant. In 2015 we undertook a review process that I know some of you were able to directly participate in, and that project told us we have built an important legacy, and have an ongoing role supporting professional dance in Australia. But it also challenged us to look at our structure and mission.

A key challenge for Ausdance’s National Council is to establish a new national Board by early 2017, and we seek your assistance in providing nominations from across Australia that you believe will contribute to a stronger Ausdance and sector. We need to attract individuals with the diversity of skills and experience required of any quality arts board. Please consider any names and let me know, together with a short biography and contact details, as soon as possible.

We are pleased and excited that the ongoing work of Ausdance offices in NSW, Victoria, WA, Queensland and ACT continues unchanged. The Ausdance Network is a significant contributor to diverse dance practice in Australia, and we will continue to work together on areas of shared interest. However, at a national level we are working with significantly reduced resources, and will continue to focus on core activities including sector advocacy, the Australian Dance Awards, and publication and promotion of research and news through the rich and informative website:

In the coming months we will again publish Ausdance National’s monthly newsletter, the latest edition of Brolga, Asia-Pacific Channels and international conference papers, publish our work in supporting safe spaces for young people to experience dance, and continue to engage the sector with the Safe Dance IV survey on professional dancers’ health. Honorary Life Members will also work with us to continue our engagement with World Dance Alliance, the National Advocates for Arts Education and the Ausdance National archives.

We are a unique national network in the arts sector and believe that, while there are challenges ahead, we also have an opportunity to refresh the organisation, focus our strategic work and better articulate its value to the membership. The constitutional changes undertaken in the last few weeks are an important part of building the right structure for the future.

We will continue to provide you with updates on future planning, together with opportunities to support the organisation as we continue to move forward.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me by email if you wish to discuss anything specific.

Shane Colquhoun
Interim National President
on behalf of the National Council