We understand that the National Cultural Policy is now only weeks away, so we've written to Arts Minister Simon Crean again, this time in response to the media release from the Arts & Cultural Ministers' meeting on 30 March.
This was our last opportunity to comment prior to the NCP's release, so we've reproduced the text here, following correspondence with the Office for the Arts after my colleague, Tamara Winikoff, and I visited the department on behalf of ArtsPeak.
ArtsPeak has also written to the Minister, particularly emphasising the importance of the small to medium arts sector in Federal Budget considerations. The letter reads as follows:
National Cultural Policy
We were particularly heartened to note the support for implementation of the National Cultural Policy through development of an ‘arts accord’ over the next 12 months, ‘recognising that real change will be optimised through partnerships and collaboration’. We were pleased to see that details of this ‘accord’ will be articulated in the National Cultural Policy, and look forward to elaboration of this key policy position.
The Arts and Health
Also of particular interest was the development of a national approach to Arts and Health, and we look to participating in the Arts and Health Foundation’s forum at Parliament House on 27 June with Health Minister Tanya Plibersek MP.
We have been closely involved with ACARA in the development of the new Australian Curriculum: The Arts and can confirm ACARA’s commitment to wide consultation across all five art forms, despite extremely difficult timelines. We are therefore delighted to see that Ministers agreed to propose reconvening the arts and education working group to investigate and report on implementation of the curriculum. This is an extremely important agenda item for the National Advocates for Arts Education, as you would appreciate.
MPA Excellence Pool
We welcome the new MPA Excellence Pool that will benefit enormously from a national framework with cross-government support. However, while we recognise the great significance of the major performing arts companies, we must emphasise again that excellence is not confined to this sector, and make the case below for a similar Excellence Pool for the small to medium performing arts sector.
We strongly recommend a similar Excellence Pool for the small to medium performing arts sector, which has once again fallen behind sustainable levels of growth and development.
The small to medium performing arts sector is the engine room of the performing arts, providing research and development, cutting edge experimentation and training for our great choreographers, composers and artists as they progress through their careers. It challenges audiences and promotes Australia’s international reputation for innovation and creativity.
However, it is also the sector that is least well supported through sustained operational funding for vital infrastructure, despite increases in funding to the Australia Council over the years for programs and projects that deliver specific government priorities. For example, while there is much new and welcome funding for emerging artists, those more established artists trying to run companies and projects are often left without adequate operational funding, and exist at not much above the poverty line.
In framing the new National Cultural Policy, we hope that these significant shortfalls in funding will be taken into account, and that at least some of the issues affecting small to medium performing arts companies and projects will be addressed through a long-term vision that has real dollars identified in the forward Estimates.
We strongly encourage you to take this important issue to the next meeting of Arts and Cultural Ministers, and seek their support for an ‘Excellence Pool’ for small to medium performing arts organisations. We emphasise that this should also take account of excellence in the independent performing and visual arts sectors which fall into this category.