Ausdance National has announced it will be winding up the association. The impact of shrinking government funding for the organisation, has resulted in dwindling reserves and severely limited resources. Despite significant fundraising efforts and organisational restructuring, Australia’s national advocate for the dance sector could not secure sustainable financial support.
The announcement comes the week of the 2019 National Dance Forum (NDF) being presented by Ausdance National in partnership with Tracks Dance Company in Darwin on 9 & 10 August. The theme of this year’s NDF is Home – dance of place, disruption and belonging.
For over forty-two years, Ausdance National has been ‘home’ for the dance sector through its delivery of high-level advocacy, industry development initiatives, publications, conferences, and the Australian Dance Awards.
Ausdance National has been a key dance advocate, addressing issues and fighting for increased resources to support the dance sector in Australia. Importantly, it has created a sense of belonging for extraordinary dance artists, creators, educators and dance lovers.
“The dance sector in Australia has experienced significant disruption and change, in part due to shifts in funding and the lack of a comprehensive arts and cultural policy,” said Professor Gene Moyle, Ausdance National President. “Despite the best efforts of the Board, staff members and volunteers, regrettably Ausdance National will take its final bow at the 2019 National Dance Forum and commence the process of winding up.”
“This announcement does not impact on Ausdance National’s commitment to the 2019 National Dance Forum. We are particularly proud of this year’s Forum with its strong regional voice and powerful Indigenous content.”
The Ausdance network, of which Ausdance National was just one part, continues on with Ausdance ACT, Ausdance NSW, Ausdance QLD, Ausdance SA, Ausdance VIC and Ausdance WA. They work independently and collectively on key areas and programs. They provide advocacy, advice and services and deliver a diverse range of projects that specifically address the needs of their state’s dance sector.
“With the demise of Ausdance National, the state-based organisations become even more essential to the health of the Australian dance sector,” said Prof. Moyle. “State governments need to remain committed to supporting these organisations if they are to see the benefits dance delivers to community wellbeing, social, cultural and economic development.
Ausdance National was one of the 65 arts organisations that lost its operational funding in 2016 following the ‘raid’ on the Australia Council for the Arts by then Arts Minister Senator Brandis. Known as the ‘Black Friday’ cuts, Ausdance National responded by appointing a skills-based board in March 2017.
The Board restructured the organisation’s operational model, rebranded and repositioned the association in collaboration with its national network, explored alternate revenue streams, continued to deliver key sector initiatives such as the Australian Dance Awards, National Dance Forums and Safe Dance Project IV, whilst persisting with national advocacy for dance and the performing arts sector in partnership with other peak bodies.
Ausdance National acknowledges the vital support of partners such as AON and Harlequin Floors, benefactors and members as well as long-time supporters that have graciously volunteered time and expertise. Unfortunately, this is not enough to sustain operations into the future.
The Dance sector itself does not have the capacity to fund its own advocacy body and the new structure of the grants program at the Australia Council for the Arts means that Ausdance National is required to compete against its members and constituents for funding.
With the final curtain call now approaching for Ausdance National, who will nationally advocate for the artform of dance? The National Dance Forum provides an opportunity for the dance sector to network, share and expand knowledge, and engage in discussion on the inherent concerns impacting dance practice in Australia.
In the spirit of Ausdance National’s legacy, the 2019 NDF will facilitate debate and discussion about the best way forward to support the dance sector in Australia. For more information, visit: www.ausdance.org.au for details.
Image: Professor Gene Moyle – photo by David Kelly