CEO UPDATE – JULY 2013

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Speeches and Opinions
Jul 01, 2013
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Hello all.

It has been a truly remarkable and dynamic period for the Australia Council since my June update. In the past ten days alone the following list of extraordinary achievements have been ticked off:

  • The organisation’s new legislation was approved by the Senate.
  • Royal assent was obtained and the Australia Council Act 2013 formally commenced on July 1.
  • Minister Burke announced the inaugural membership of the new Board of the Australia Council.
  • The Board held its first meeting on July 1 where it approved the establishment of new Peer Assessment Panels, the Major Performing Arts Panel and the ATSIA panel.
  • The Literature and Visual Arts Peer Assessment Panels met this week and assessed a combined total of approximately 900 applications.
  • Funding determinations made by those Panels included the allocation of approximately $400,000 of the additional $15 million provided by the Australian Government in 2013/14 to support unfunded excellence.
In taking some time to reflect amid this intense level of activity, a few highlights stand out for me.

Firstly, the work of everyone involved at Council, agency and operational level to make all of these events happen in a seamless manner has been phenomenal. Thank you to all involved.

Secondly, decisions have already been made to fund more artists as a direct result of the injection of extra resources to support unfunded excellence. The feedback from the first round of Peer Assessment Panel meetings confirmed this funding made the difference between supporting or declining exceptional applications in highly competitive categories. This is enormously pleasing as every grant made to an artist or arts organisation can change the trajectory of a career or the course of an artist’s life. That should always be remembered.

Finally, while we are very fortunate to have artists of rich and diverse backgrounds and experience already represented in our new Peer Assessment Panels, we now have a structure in place that ensures we can expand these Panels so that we get the right peers from across the country assessing the many and diverse applications we receive. This is fundamental to our work and I thank the new Board for swiftly endorsing this critical structural change.

As the evolution of the Australia Council continues, we are set to move ahead with the same level of intensity in coming months. The first meeting of the Music Peer Assessment Panel will be held next week and the remaining Panels are all scheduled to convene in the near future. We look forward to further news of support for more and more outstanding Australian talent arising from those meetings.

Also of significance, the comprehensive review of the Australia Council’s Grants Program is progressing well with a view to the implementation of a new, streamlined program from 2015.  Discussions with stakeholders are set to take place in coming months in the context of the broader strategic planning process. The new grants program will provide direction for Peer Assessment Panels in the allocation of all funding, including the latter years of the four-year, $60 million unfunded excellence program delivered as part of Creative Australia.  Be assured the starting point for the review is better access and a simplified system for artists.

In closing, I am very pleased to advise the next meeting of the new Board will be held in August. The further allocation of the remaining 2013/14 unfunded excellence allocation will be considered as a high order of business at that time.

Have a great month!

Tony Grybowski
CEO