Australia Council report highlights the value of international arts investment

Longin Sarnecki. Courtesy the artist and the Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art FoundationThe Australia Council for the Arts has released a summary report that highlights the value of a strategic approach to international arts development and explores the existing activity and future priorities of the sector.

Australia Council Executive Director Arts Strategy Dr Wendy Were said the report was part of a significant body of research and analysis undertaken over the past year to provide a comprehensive overview of Australian international arts activity and identify high value international opportunities for Australian artists.

International development activity includes international presentation, residencies, collaborations and exchanges, networking, participation in festivals, fairs or showcasing platforms, translations and co-productions, all of which provide both short and long-term benefits to the artists involved and enrich our nation’s arts and cultural life.

“Australia is a culturally ambitious nation within a rapidly evolving global context,” said Dr Were.  “Our distinctive and wonderfully diverse cultural identity is already on the world stage. More than one in three Australian artists are involved in international work and there is a growing interest in Australian work and artistic collaborations across established and emerging markets.”

“For it to be most effective, international arts investment must be grounded in knowledge of the arts sector’s international activities, ambitions, and support needs. We undertook this research to get a clear line of sight into what activities artists and arts organisations are pursuing, what their aspirations and priorities are, and what they need to reach their goals.”

The research involved an analysis of funding trends, interviews and focus groups with funding recipients, and a sector-wide survey to identify motivations, needs, challenges and future priorities.

The Council has invested around $11 million each year in international arts activity since 2010-11, and in addition regularly funds many arts organisations that work internationally. This strategic support has enabled artistic, market and audience development, as well as providing significant value to Australia’s cultural diplomacy agenda.

Australia Council support has increased mobility and participation of Australian artists in international projects and facilitated vital new networks and connections. Among the many benefits are an increased international profile for innovative Australian arts and the increased integration of international best practice into Australian arts infrastructure.

“Funding for international presentation such as touring and exhibitions remains of great importance, but the Australia Council also provides a pivotal role in building international connections, promoting the awareness and appreciation of Australian arts and facilitating institutional reciprocity and partnerships that in turn give rise to collaborative projects,” said Dr Were.

The research findings indicate that many artists and organisations believe that without Australia Council support they would have been unable to undertake international activity. Dr Were said the research would be used to guide future investment, support artistic aspirations, facilitate exchange and growth, and enhance the international profile of excellent Australian art.

“This report is just the first of a number of resources to be developed from this work that will provide benefit to the sector and inform future Government investment and activity,” said Dr Were. “It is important to note that the reductions to the Australia Council budget have significantly changed the capacity of the Council to continue delivering investment and strategic international activity at the same level.”

“We will closely monitor the impact of this on the ability of our artists to engage internationally and Australia’s international arts reputation.”

For more information or to read the report, visit: www.australiacouncil.gov.au for details.

Image: Gosia Wlodarczak, Frost Drawing for the Moscow Manege (2013) a 21-day drawing performance and installation on interior glass architecture of the Moscow Mange Exhibition Hall, the 5th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art: More Light, curated by Catherine de Zegher, Moscow. Pigment pen on glass, approximate overall size 230m2 – photo by Longin Sarnecki. Courtesy the artist and the Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art Foundation.

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