News: February 2012

ArtsPeak again lobbies the ABC

ArtsPeak representatives met again with the ABC to lobby for more cultural content in ABC news and current affairs programs. General Manager Mark Scott had previously met with the group, and this time ArtsPeak met with Don Lang, the Head of News Programming, and Alan Sunderland, the Head of News Policy,

A process was agreed on to review arts content for news and current affairs programs, and on a process for arts representatives to contact appropriate reporters. The following strategies were suggested to ArtsPeak:

  • Arts representatives should consider what the issues are and whether they are newsworthy.
  • We should develop a central arts representatives contact register.
  • We should focus on stories that utilise ABC research and archives.

We'll be working with our ArtsPeak colleagues to maximise this positive response from the ABC, and making sure dance is part of the story telling!

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Reviewing the new Australian arts curriculum

Arts curriculum writing for Foundation to Year 10 is well underway.

The draft rationale, aims and broad scope and sequence have already been reviewed by a state and territory national panel, and we joined other professional associations last week to review the drafts. We'd been invited to ask four teachers from across Australia to provide feedback, and Dr Katrina Rank, education and training manager for Ausdance Victoria, collated their feedback and led the discussion for dance.

We also represented the National Advocates for Arts Education (NAAE) in the teleconference, which was chaired by the general manager (curriculum) of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), Robert Randall.

We'll be calling for further dance commentary in the coming weeks as the drafts are developed by the writers, and ACARA will make the curriculum available for public comment in May. In the meantime, you can sign up for regular ACARA updates.

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Li Cunxin new director of the Queensland Ballet

Li Cunxin has been announced as the new Artistic Director of the Queensland Ballet. He will take up his appointment in July this year, six months before the departure of the current Director, François Klaus. His appointment follows an international search by the Queensland Ballet.

Li's autiobiography and the film Mao's Last Dancer have built his international reputation, not only as a fine dancer but as an inspirational leader. We congratulate Li on another great achievement!

Read about his ideas for the company in this interview with the Brisbane Courier Mail.

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More evidence that dance benefits the elderly

There are some startling new figures that support dancing as a protective strategy in preventing dementia. A Stanford University report Use It or Lose It: Dancing Makes You Smarter makes the following comparisons:

... almost none of the physical activities appeared to offer any protection against dementia. There can be cardiovascular benefits of course, but the focus of this study was the mind. There was one important exception: the only physical activity to offer protection against dementia was frequent dancing.

  • Reading—35% reduced risk of dementia
  • Bicycling and swimming—0%
  • Doing crossword puzzles at least four days a week—47%
  • Playing golf—0%
  • Dancing frequently—76%.

The same university offers other insights into the benefits of dance in Thoughts, philosophies and musings on social dance, a useful reference for community dance practitioners in Australia.

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MyDance Alliance visitor from Malaysia

When the President of MyDance Alliance, Bilqis Hiijas, visited Canberra from Malaysia this week, we took the opportunity to introduce her to several of Australia's leading cultural institutions. We also heard about the artists' residency program she helps to run at her family's compound, Rimbun Dahan in Kuala Lumpur.

Bilqis is the new editor of Asia Pacific Channels, the newsletter we produce on behalf of the World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific. It's exciting to be sharing the task with her, and her visit to Canberra gave us a chance to meet her in person for the first time.

Bilqis was very interested in our partnerships with the National Library of Australia and the National Film and Sound Archive, so we organised tours of both institutions to meet the curators and get an idea of the great range of dance materials held by both institutions. She's hoping to form similar relationships with archives in Malaysia.

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