Proposed OzCo Act Amendments Welcomed by Arts Sector Representatives

ArtsPeak released the following media release last Friday 10 May re the Senate Inquiry recommendations for amendments.

PROPOSED OZCO ACT AMENDMENTS WELCOMED BY ARTS SECTOR REPRESENTATIVES

Members of ArtsPeak, the coalition of national peak arts organisations today welcomed the recommendations of the Senate Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport Committee Inquiry into the Australia Council Bill 2013.

After considering submissions and witness statements made by prominent arts organisations, the Senate Committee responded favourably to their concerns and agreed changes to the legislation were necessary. The Committee recommended that the Bill be amended to include provisions which focus on:
•    supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts practice;
•    upholding and promoting freedom of expression in all artistic forms;
•    providing support for the arts in a manner that reflects the diversity of Australia; and
•    encouraging community participation in the arts.

ArtsPeak members also welcomed the recognition of art-form expertise, through the inclusion of amendments to ensure peers are included in policy or funding committees. However, they are still keen to see the requirement for peer representation be boosted from “at least one” to “all” members of such committees, on the basis that this would ensure the principle was fully applied as intended.

Tamara Winikoff, Executive Director of the National Association for the Visual Arts and co-convenor of ArtsPeak said today, “While we support the freeing up of the Council to be able to move with the times, we feel it’s important for the Act to include what we regard as core areas of responsibility for the Council, and also to make clear how the peer assessment principle should be fully realised in practice.”

“It is vital the foundation documents for the Australia Council reflect the diversity and direction of arts practice. We welcome the inclusion of these additional responsibilities, as being true to the spirit of arts in Australia,” commented Roslyn Dundas, CEO of the Australian Dance Council – Ausdance.

Julie Tipene-O’Toole, CEO of Kultour agreed saying, “Kultour welcomes recognition of the need for government legislation and policies to support the arts in a manner that reflects the culturally diverse make-up of Australia”.

ArtsPeak members do not want to see any unnecessary delays to the passage of this important legislation but are relieved their concerns are being heard. The arts community has warmly welcomed the Government’s ‘Creative Australia’ national cultural policy and is keen to ensure consistency between this policy and the Australia Council Act.

“We call on the Parliament to accept these recommendations and ensure swift passage of the Bill, so the sector and the Council can get on with supporting and developing arts practice together,” concluded Roslyn Dundas.

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