CEO UPDATE – JUNE 2013

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Speeches and Opinions
Jun 01, 2013
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Welcome to the first of regular updates on what is happening in and around the Australia Council at an exciting time for the arts sector and our organisation. My focus is firmly fixed on our role of supporting and developing a more creative and enriched community, particularly in those areas of greatest need. In the next few months I am looking forward to visiting as many artists and organisations across the country as time and travel routes permit. For now, here’s an update on some of the more significant things we are working through this month.

Australia Council legislation

The passage of our new enabling legislation, the Australia Council Bill 2013 remains well on track after passing through the House of Representatives recently and progressing to the Senate. It is anticipated the Bill will be debated in the Senate during one of the allocated sitting weeks in late June. Should the Bill be approved at this stage it will soon after proceed to the Governor General for assent and become law, replacing the existing Act that has served us for almost four decades.

As you may be aware, the legislation adopts the majority of recommendations that were made in the 2012 Review of the Australia Council, including updating our governance structure in line with other modern statutory authorities such as Screen Australia and the National Portrait Gallery of Australia. In practice, the new legislation would remove some constraints and enable the Australia Council to be more flexible and responsive to the needs of artists today and into the future.

If you are interested in reading more about the Australia Council Bill 2013, including the parliamentary speeches made during debate of the legislation, you can find all of the information you need at the following link:

https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=r5021

Federal Budget and additional funding allocation

We were very pleased that the 2013-14 Federal Budget confirmed delivery of an additional $75 million over four years, of which $60 million has been provided to support unfunded excellence as flagged in the Creative Australia announcement. That means an additional $15 million in grant funding will be available for distribution to Australian artists and arts organisations in the 12 months from 1 July 2013.

The mechanics of allocating the extra funding in the first year will be determined when the Australia Council’s governing Council meets in mid-June. The allocation of funding beyond the first year will be based on existing long term analysis of the sector, supported by the development of a five-year strategic vision and framework for the Australia Council that will be the subject of extensive consultation with stakeholders, commencing later this year. In the context of that work we are well on the way to reviewing our grant programs with the goal of simplifying and streamlining the categories, acknowledging common artform elements. Put simply, we aim to give more artists easier access to our grant programs.

Executive Team

2013 has to date been a year of great energy and change in the arts sector, and three members of our senior executive team have recently been rewarded with leadership appointments in some of the nation’s most significant cultural institutions.
As I said when our Minister, the Hon Tony Burke MP confirmed my appointment as the Australia Council’s new CEO on May 16, playing a central role in supporting and nurturing creative expression of all kinds, at a time marked by technological change and extraordinary innovation in the sector, is for me a challenge of the most exciting kind.

Last month the NSW Minister for the Arts, the Hon George Souris, announced that Rose Hiscock had been appointed to the role of Director of the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney from July 2013. This is a fitting recognition not only of Rose’s extensive expertise in the museum sector, but also of the remarkable energy and talents she has displayed in delivering significant market and audience growth for thousands of Australian artists.

And The Australian Ballet recently announced that Libby Christie has been appointed to the key role of Executive Director, effective late July. Libby has made a tremendous contribution to the Australia Council in applying her outstanding business and management expertise to the roles of Director of Arts Funding, Acting CEO and Director of Arts Organisations. Her return to the Major Performing Arts sector ensures The Australian Ballet is in good hands.

For the near future, we are delighted that Rose and Libby remain integral to our executive team. For the longer term we have already commenced an executive search for new members of our leadership team at this pivotal time in our organisation’s history.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are a number of processes in play right now that will help to shape our cultural future. The Australia Council is very pleased to have such an active role in helping to generate more opportunities for artists through these processes.

I look forward to providing a further update in July. Have a great month!