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TNA Federal Advocacy Update – June 2018

Response to the Draft ALP National Policy Platform

This week, a coalition of national performing arts peak bodies responded to the Draft Labor National Policy Platform. We want to ensure that the Platform will truly demonstrate Labor’s commitment to the performing arts and live performance sectors into the future. We called for a regime of investment and funding incentives, and provided some key comments and principles in relation to the role of the arts and creative industries across other government portfolios.

In particular, we want Labor to reaffirm the additional $20million per year to the Australia Council (on top of the returned Catalyst funding) they committed before the last election in 2016.

TNA joined with colleagues to prepare the submission: Australian Major Performing Arts Group (AMPAG), Symphony Services Australia, Regional Arts Australia, Performing Arts Connections Australia, Music Australia, Live Performance Australia, BLAK Dance, and Ausdance.

Australia Council changes.

This month, the Australia Council farewelled Rupert Myer as Chair of the Board and welcomed Sam Walsh to the role. TNA wrote to Sam on behalf of members to introduce the sector, and to outline a selection of TNA’s current advocacy goals: stronger arts ecology [incl. greater support for independents, removal of $300k AusCo funding cap for 4-year funded organisations]; more diverse work and bigger, more diverse audiences; new Australian work to the world; securing the future of the Australia Council. As CEO Tony Grybowski’s 6-year term ends in October, Sam’s first task will be recruiting a new CEO.

As mentioned above, TNA will continue to call on both major parties to secure the future of the Australia Council and to reinvest at least an additional $20million per year so the organisation can truly fulfil its brief. [Alison Croggon and Rob Reid at Witness found that since 2013, the absolute number of individual artists and organisations funded by the Australia Council has decreased by 73 per cent.]

And remember the next project grant round closes 2nd October – the last one for the calendar year (funded orgs can only apply in one project round per year).

Update – Catalyst and the Ministry.

On the 14th May, the Department of Communications and the Arts wrote to former Catalyst assessors to advise that they had formally closed the Independent Assessors Register (around 100 assessors were used during Catalyst’s brief and ill-fated life). The Department retained $2mil p/a when it closed Catalyst, but this is not allocated to any specific program on its website. We know anecdotally it has been used for various ‘strategic initiatives’. Other funding programs remain: more info here. 

Peer Assessment

As a part of TNA’s new role supporting and advocating for the Circus and Physical Theatre sector, TNA’s Jamie Lewis prepared a list of the various peer registration processes for funding assessment used by all states and territories and the Australia Council (for some programs). We urged the CaPT sector to learn more about peer assessment, and to sign up to relevant peer registers. We urge the same to all members – it’s a great way to support other artists’ work, it’s usually paid, and it is great professional development. Read the bulletin here.

Addressing Sexual Harassment

TNA has been working on addressing sexual harassment since late last year, sharing information and representing the small to medium and independent sectors in particular. We are aware that while creating safer workplaces is vital, we need to ensure our processes are efficient and the bureaucratic reporting requirements are minimised.

In Victoria, Nicole Beyer sits on the arts-wide Respectful Workplaces working group set-up by the Creative Industries Minister, and TNA has been attending national roundtables and meetings with various colleagues including Live Performance Australia, who are finalising their sector wide code to be adopted by the performing arts. The LPA DRAFT code can be accessed here. LPA expects to finalised the code in July. 

In each of the states where there is a Major Performing Arts theatre company, those companies will be working with their local sectors to run a workshop sometime in the second half of the year –  a commitment out of the Safe Theatres Forum in March. In Tas and the NT, TNA will work with the local sectors to raise awareness, share information and resources, and encourage the relevant funding agency to provide support. 

What you can do

As we head to a federal election next year (the earliest date is August 4, 2018 and the latest is May 18, 2019) it’s a good time to contact your local Member of Parliament, whichever party they are in, and (a) let them know about your work, and (b) why the arts are important to you and your audiences. Use your postcode to find your MP here

Candidates from other parties will start to be selected and announced over the next few months, so keep an eye out for that, and get in early to invite them to your events.

For the five by-elections coming up in July the campaigning has already begun – contact those candidates now! ALP here | Liberals here | Greens here. (And various independents). 

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