National arts funding, advocacy and policy were in the spotlight in a series of arts industry meetings held in Sydney on Thursday 2 July, 2015.
The meetings, organised as part of the #freethearts campaign responding to the cuts to Australia Council funding, involved more than 150 artists, small to medium companies, major performing arts companies and community members. Hundreds of others across the country participated online.
The meetings also discussed the need for stronger national advocacy for issues that impact on the whole sector. Arts practitioner Fiona Winning, said:
“We have excellent state and nationally-based peak advocacy bodies but none that are resourced to work across art forms, and engage in cross sector debate such as we are doing ourselves, at this moment.”
The forum also identified the need for a national cultural policy framework. Free the Arts spokesperson Norm Horton said:
“These big national topics of funding, advocacy and policy are now firmly on the agenda and more gatherings are planned across country in the coming weeks. The momentum is really starting to build and the sector is talking, so I guess we have Minister Brandis to thank for that.”
TOP THREE MESSAGES:
– Return the funds to the Australia Council: The meeting calls for the Minister to return the funds to the Australia Council for the Arts immediately to ensure sustainability for the entire arts and cultural ecology in the immediate and long term future.
– Grow the investment: The meeting acknowledges that Minister Brandis has the right and power to establish the NPEA however, requests that he find the funds elsewhere. Grow the investment rather than sacrifice the small to medium and independent sectors.
– Research and Advocacy: The meeting calls for the establishment of an advocacy body (distributed network such as Arts Peak) to become the advocacy and lobby group across all artforms.