ARTS INDUSTRY-SPECIFIC FUNDING PACKAGE & AUSTRALIA COUNCIL FUNDING
20 April 2020
In support of Australian dance, Ausdance has written to the Arts Minister, the Hon. Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts. In the meantime, we are providing a voice for dance through regular briefings with the Government, the Opposition, the Greens, and officials from the Australia Council, the federal Arts department, Treasury and other peak arts organisations.
Ausdance National and the State/Territory Ausdance network thank you for the financial assistance measures available to the arts industry, including JobKeeper, JobSeeker, and the $27m for regional arts organisations and artists announced last week.
We are writing to reinforce the concerns of our arts colleagues about the anomalies in the eligibility for assistance of independent artists, sole traders and dance companies. We remain extremely concerned that measures announced to date do not yet respond to the urgent issues that have been outlined by leading arts organisations, and do not align with the specific needs of our industry.
An arts industry-specific stimulus package must be implemented as soon as possible to redress our industry’s loss of all self-generated income and to assist its ability to survive long months of shut-down and the road to recovery.
At last week’s roundtable with the Australia Council, the Department for the Arts and your own staff members, Kristine Kaukomaa and Ryan Bloxsam, Ausdance National raised the issue of recovery and the Australia Council’s capacity to respond to a very different arts landscape that will emerge from the current crisis.
The recent results of the Australia Council’s four-year funding for small to medium dance companies highlighted the ongoing losses sustained by this sector of the dance profession. Only eight small dance companies and organisations are left with the ability to employ staff, plan for the future and create new work, while four other highly regarded companies are left hanging by a thread, with one-year transitional funding.
All four ‘transitional’ companies have played a significant role in working regionally; with disability artists and with Indigenous artists and their communities, and all four will probably not survive without ongoing funding beyond their transition year. Many other small but artistically significant dance companies and independent artists are completely without Australia Council or State/Territory funding support, and all will be struggling to rebuild creative output, audiences and touring schedules in 2021, further weakening our already fragile dance infrastructure.
The Australia Council is the Federal Government’s own peak arts funding and advisory body, and we call for its funding to be doubled in the October Budget. Its present funding levels deprive it of being able to deliver on its vision to ‘support Australia’s arts through funding, strengthening and developing the arts sector’. If its policy settings are to recognise that the dance ecosystem is inter-dependent, then the Council must be adequately funded to strengthen and develop it. Such policy settings would recognise that different dance sectors serve different purposes, from the AMPAG dance companies to youth dance companies, First Nations performers, independent artists, community dance practitioners, school and studio teachers, choreographers and producers.
We also reaffirm that people stay physically and mentally well by dancing and moving. The significant role played by dance in communities through dance education, dance for Parkinson’s programs, dance and movement for the elderly and the widespread health and wellbeing programs offered by professional dance artists across the country, must not be under-estimated.
The provision of an arts-specific funding package will be an opportunity for the Government to show cultural leadership and a recognition of the ways in which the arts (including dance) will lead healing and reconnection of communities in the COVID-19 recovery phase, including those facing mental health issues.
Doubling the Australia Council’s current funding in the context of an arts-specific funding package is not a big request when compared to the rescue packages afforded to other industries. Recognition that increased funding is an investment in our future, not just another handout to a struggling industry, is vital
We look forward to your early response, and would be pleased to participate in any future policy planning that may evolve in the coming weeks.
Paul Summers Julie Dyson AM
Ausdance National President Ausdance National Vice-President
18 April 2020
Ausdance NSW is the key support & advocacy body, for the creation, presentation and practice of dance in NSW.
Ausdance NSW is part of the Ausdance National Network.
Ausdance acknowledges and respects the Traditional Custodians of the Lands on which we work and dance and pays respect to elders past, present and emerging.
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