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Creative Australia policy laid to rest?

Ben Eltham, Australia Council Strategic Plan: where is the detail?, ArtsHub, 19 August 2014

There is precious little detail in the Australia Council’s new Strategic Plan, and big questions remain.

What are we to make of the Australia Council’s new ‘Strategic Plan’?

The presentation was certainly impressive. There was glitz, there was glamour … there was even Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, just off the plane from Kiev.

But delve into the glossy eight-page brochure handed down yesterday, and there is precious little substance. Only eight pages? It’s more of a pamphlet than a plan. Little detail is provided. Big questions remain.

Let’s start with the big picture. Does Australia still have a national cultural policy? Judging by this document, no.

Labor’s legacy was a $230-million national cultural blueprint called Creative Australia. It wasn’t perfect, and there were those, including the current Minister, who mounted substantive criticisms. But it was the first whole-of-government federal cultural policy in two decades. There was new money. There was also a new policy direction that promised a more joined-up national approach to arts and cultural funding and regulation.

The Strategic Plan doesn’t even mention Creative Australia. Nor does it contain the phrase ‘national cultural policy.’

The inescapable conclusion is that Creative Australia is dead. Whatever direction the Coalition is taking arts policy, it is apparent that the previous blueprint has been junked.

That’s a tragedy, because nothing has been put in its place. The Coalition went to the last election without a cultural policy, and 11 months into office, George Brandis shows no sign of formulating one.

As I’ve argued many times, cultural policy is bigger than the Australia Council, and bigger than ‘the arts’, narrowly conceived. Creative Australia encompassed the Australia Council, Screen Australia and the national cultural institutions, but also a broader palette of cultural practices, and important new attempts to negotiate federal-state agreements over cultural policy, recognising the key role played by state and local governments.

Read more here.

Excerpt from Australia Council website:

National Launch Program

Following the launch of the Australia Council’s new Strategic Plan and grants program on Monday 18 August, Chief Executive Officer Tony Grybowski will be conducting open public information sessions for the broader arts sector in each state and territory and outlining  the new strategic direction and the changes to the grants program, effective January 2015.

Australian Capital Territory:

Date Tuesday 19 August 2014

Time 6.00pm – 7.00pm

Venue Street 3, The Street Theatre, 15 Childers Street, Canberra City West

RSVP Bookings essential, [email protected] by Friday 15 August


Date Wednesday 27 August 2014

Time 6.00pm – 7.00pm

Venue The Courtyard, State Library of Victoria, 328 Swanston Street, Melbourne

RSVP Bookings essential, [email protected] by Friday 22 August

South Australia:

Date Tuesday 2 September 2014

Time 6.00pm – 7.00pm

Venue Lyrics Room, Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Street, Adelaide

RSVP Bookings essential, [email protected] by Thursday 28 August

New South Wales:

Date Tuesday 9 September

Time 6.00pm – 7.00pm

Venue Pier 2/3 Hickson Road, Dawes Point (Walsh Bay), Sydney

RSVP Bookings essential,  [email protected] by Thursday 4 September


Date Thursday 11 September

Time 6.00pm – 7.00pm

Venue Turbine Platform, Brisbane Powerhouse, 119 Lamington Street, New Farm

RSVP Bookings essential,  [email protected] by Monday 8 September


Date Wednesday 1 October

Time 6.00pm – 7.00pm

Venue Founders Room, Salamanca Arts Centre, 77 Salamanca Place, Hobart

RSVP Bookings essential, [email protected] by Friday 26 September

Northern Territory (Darwin):

Date Tuesday 7 October

Time 6.00pm – 7.00pm

Venue Darwin Entertainment Centre, 93 Mitchell Street, Darwin

RSVP Bookings essential, [email protected] by Thursday 2 October

Northern Territory (Alice Springs):

Date Wednesday 8 October

Time 6.00pm – 7.00pm

RSVP Bookings essential, [email protected] by Friday 3 October

Western Australia (Perth)

Date Tuesday 14 October

Time 6.00pm – 7.00pm

Venue Rehearsal Room 2, State Theatre Centre, 174-176 William Street, Perth

RSVP Bookings essential, [email protected] by Thursday 9 October

Western Australia (Kalgoorlie)

Date Thursday 16 October

RSVP Bookings essential, [email protected] by Monday 13 October