The Australian major Performing Arts Group has responded to the Australia Council Review report, commending the review team for its aim to create a stronger, more strategic Council.
Bethwyn Serow, AMPAG’s executive director, said the streamlining of the governing structure would create a more dynamic body, able to respond to the volatile demands of 21st century arts practice.
However, while the report contained many commendable recommendations, AMPAG called for more consideration for the Australia’s major performing arts companies (MPAs) and the special place they hold in our arts environment.
‘We believe opening up major performing arts funding to competitive bids fails to take into account the critical need for stability of core funding,’ she said.
‘This core funding enables the MPAs to deliver programming excellence that is their hallmark, representing the best of Australian arts practice to audiences nationally and around the world.
Ms Serow said that through stable funding, MPA companies had developed new audiences, improved artistic vibrancy, collaborated and mentored smaller organisations, and developed substantial additional private funding support.
‘Certainly the current model has delivered better leveraging of each dollar invested by government than the previous unstable funding environment,’ she said.
The MPAs employ 9000 artists, art administration personnel and skilled craftspeople—which is about 66 per cent of all people employed in the performing arts sector.
‘They provide professional opportunities across art forms of national and international standard, allowing artists to take artistic risk, collaborate and explore,’ Ms Serow said.
Derek Young, chair of AMPAG and the Melbourne Theatre Company, said, ‘As a board member of a major performing arts organisation for the past 15 years, I have worked with both the pre and post-Nugent funding models.
‘The current model based on the Nugent report has delivered core funding from federal and state governments, which, combined with significantly increased private sector support, has enabled Australia’s major performing arts companies to not only survive but grow and excel in their various art forms.’
As the review team found, there is a large pool of unfunded excellence—and AMPAG agrees that substantial top-up funding should meet this growing gap in the sector.
This would boost the small to medium organisations that are producing excellent work.
AMPAG also supports an expanded role for peer review, but stressed that it should not be used as the sole criterion for funding decisions.
‘Some of our member companies are without peer in this country—Opera Australia, for example, or Circus Oz—so the approach to the notion of peer review needs to be carefully nuanced if it is to be effective’, Ms Serow said.
For further enquiries contact:
Australian Major Performing Arts Group
Tel 02 9253 5351
For the full AMPAG response: Australia Council Review report_AMPAG response