The following letter by Australia Council CEO Jennifer Bott was sent to the Courier Mail on 4 May 2005
In her article On track to take art to the people (3.5.05), Rosemary Sorensen attempts to revive the furphy that the Australia Council operates without consultation, by wrongly claiming that I ‘will brook no questioning’ of the recent changes to the Council’s structure and operations.
The Council’s reorganisation plans were fielded publicly late in 2004, and through Council-convened workshops and other feedback processes over succeeding months, underwent rigorous scrutiny by art sector leaders and Council members in Queensland and other states.
This input greatly helped in addressing the key issues facing the arts, a fact which I have publicly acknowledged.
Ms Sorensen finds it ‘weird’ that the role of artform manager is being elevated to director level, claiming the Council is ‘losing sight of its role as a facilitator’.
In fact, this move has been generally applauded by the arts sector, and with good reason: we created these roles to facilitate greater engagement between the Council and clients, to gain a much clearer picture of each sector’s requirements.
To imply this will give the Council ‘more chance to influence and even shape the kinds of performances’ that it funds suggests that the Council already exerts such domination.
It does not, nor should it. Our task is to promote and support the arts, not to shape or dictate artistic content.
What better example could we cite than the pioneering work of Lyndon Terracini, creative director of the forthcoming Queensland Music Festival, which Ms Sorensen’s article highlights.
The Council has provided strong backing to Lyndon’s innovative approach to touring the arts, and as Ms Sorensen would know, the Festival’s key sponsors include both the Australia Council and The Courier-Mail.