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The details have been finalised on the new-look Australia Council.

In December last year, the Council announced plans to reorganise the way it operated. This marked the end of a six-month Council review, and the start of a consultation period on the review’s findings.

Our consultations have included workshops and seminars with artists and representatives from arts organisations; public submissions on the draft operational models as they were developed; and ongoing correspondence with interested parties.

These consultations helped immeasurably to define the operational plans for the reorganisation that the Council’s governing body adopted at its meeting in Hobart on
April 5-6.

The plans represent a major shift in the Council’s approach to supporting the arts, positioning the Council as an ‘arts catalyst’, an agent of support and change for the arts in Australia, and a more flexible, well-informed and responsive organisation.

The new structures outlined below are designed to engage more Australians in the arts, deliver the arts to more Australians, and help shape a more vital and sustainable arts sector. The Council expects to implement its reorganisation by July 2005.

A new Community Partnerships section

Community Partnerships (CP) will be a section within the Community Partnerships and Market Development Division, previously the Audience and Market Development Division.

It will bring together the Council’s work in the areas of community cultural development (CCD), youth, education, disability and regional development.

From July-December 2005, the Council will conduct a scoping study that will propose new strategies and programs to achieve the Council’s policy objectives in CP, including CCD. These strategies will have implications for financial resources, workload and staffing within the new structure.

The proposal to manage dedicated CCD grant programs through the Inter-Arts Office and artform boards will be one of the options considered by the scoping study.

Regardless of the outcome of the study, the Community Partnerships section will be responsible for the budget allocation and criteria for support of Community Partnership programs, including CCD.

Policy objectives of the CP section are:

  • Continued support for CCD as a practice and a process — growing a strong community cultural development sector is critical to achieving the Australia Council’s vision, particularly in valuing Australia’s cultural diversity
  • Greater involvement in and support for CCD practice across all Council artform boards
  • Increased opportunities for engagement with a wider range of community sectors
  • Increased integration between multicultural arts, youth, education, Indigenous, regional and CCD programs and initiatives across the Council
  • Increased support for community engagement that can and will include community cultural development
  • Increased coordination and collaborative development
  • Proactive investment in long-term sustainable outcomes for communities, through the arts
  • Continuing to build on the Australia Council’s leadership role in building support for an investment in arts and culture by local, state and federal agencies and the private sector.

Key components of the plan for Community Partnerships are:

  • Create a dedicated CP Committee to provide strategy, advisory and policy leadership to the CP section, with members appointed by the Council and the chair drawn from the community representatives on the Council
  • A budget of $5.1m for CCD-specific programs for each of the budget years 2005-06 and 2006-07
  • Accept applications to all the advertised 2005 CCD grant programs, to be assessed by a committee of peers with CCD expertise from July, when the current CCD Board ceases to operate
  • Keep current CCD triennially funded and program grant funded organisations together, overseen by the director of CP. Triennially funded organisations will be managed by the Key Organisations section in consultation with the director of CP
  • Manage CCD fellowships, residencies and awards through CP, with decisions made by the CP Committee
  • Develop and support CCD strategic initiatives through CP, with any new strategic activities funded from the Council’s strategic allocations budget.

A new Inter-Arts Office

An Inter-Arts Office will be established to handle hybrid arts activities and develop strategies for supporting emerging arts practices that are outside existing artform categories.

Key plans for Inter-Arts are:

  • Offer a single grants category with a focus on hybrid arts practice and fund a fellowship specifically for hybrid arts practitioners, with decisions by a peer assessment panel
  • Take on responsibility for the New Media Art Board’s (NMAB) current key initiatives, such as Time_Place_Space, Synapse Arts/Science Initiative, Run_Way Young and Emerging Artists Initiative, and residencies
  • Maintain an overview of new media art funding across the Council for a minimum of two years
  • Existing NMAB triennially funded organisations will continue to be funded through the Inter-Arts Office and managed by the new Key Organisations section
  • Provide advice to artists and organisations who are unsure under which artform their proposal fits, and refer them to the most appropriate board or funding category. This includes assistance to artists, groups and organisations seeking funding from the Council’s future CCD funding programs.

To provide continuity of funding for this year, new media and hybrid art applications will be accepted to all the advertised 2005 NMAB closing dates.

From 2006, current levels of funding for hybrid and new media art will be distributed through the Inter-Arts Office, the Visual Arts/Craft Board (VACB) and the Music Board. The new media art funds going to the VACB and Music Board will be continually reviewed to consider changing application numbers and approvals for the practice in music and visual arts over the next couple of years.

As the VACB already funds new media art practice, the new funds it receives from the NMAB will be used to augment its existing programs and will be distributed through its normal grant categories. Funding for two of the NMAB’s existing Fellowships will also be transferred to VACB, where new media artists will compete against other visual artists. The Council has agreed to monitor the level of expenditure on this practice in the VACB and set targets to ensure there is no drop in funding for new media art.

The Music Board will offer a separate sub-category under New Work with funding quarantined, and also support new media projects through other categories.

Membership of both the VACB and Music Board will be increased to bring in new media art expertise. If such expertise on the boards is not present at any time, it will be supplemented by guest peers.

The Australia Council will support a new media art conference in September 2005, in association with Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, and the Australian Film Commission. The Council has also agreed to conduct a scoping study of new media/hybrid art to inform future directions for supporting these practices.

A new Strategy section

The Strategy Section will develop plans for the Australia Council and support the organisation in the creation of individual, integrated plans by artform boards.

The section will also have responsibility for developing the Council’s strategic plan, providing internal project management support, and managing research and analysis projects. This new section replaces the Policy Communication Research Division, with the Communication section transferring to Corporate Affairs.

New artform director roles

The current role of artform manager will be elevated to artform director. Newly-recruited artform directors will retain primary authority over grant giving and key organisations, but will now include a role in setting strategic priorities for the entire Council and in representing their artform area across all areas of Australia Council activity. Key to these new roles are external and internal artform profile and leadership.

A new Key Organisations section

A new section will manage the Council’s relationships with the 145 organisations that are funded on a triennial basis. It will be organised around ‘artform clusters’ — Visual Arts and Craft; Theatre and Dance; Music and Literature; and Community Cultural Development and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts.

The Key Organisations section will help to develop a better understanding of the health of key organisations and whole sectors in order to support their long-term sustainability, leading to more effective funding, strategic policies and well-grounded bids for new support. It will have skilled client relations staff and analysts in areas such as finance and marketing.

Peer assessment of triennially-funded organisations will continue, with the artform boards making funding decisions assisted by recommendations from the Key Organisations section.

The 2005 Handbook

As there will be no change to the grants programs being offered by the Council in 2005, there is no need for a revised Support for the Arts Handbook — the current 2005 Handbook is valid for all boards and divisions until the end of the year.

Looking ahead

In May and June this year, we will conduct a series of public meetings around Australia to outline our new structure and discuss its implications for the sector. When the dates are confirmed, a schedule of these meetings on this website.



Brianna Roberts


(02) 9215 9030


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