#7 Working Group 7 - Public Value of the Arts Campaign

Friday 10:00am / Main Foyer
1 Hour / Google Hangout

Working Group contacts: Richard Bladel

http://artsfront.com/profile/?id=166314 and Jami Bladel http://artsfront.com/profile/?id=10132 THE ARTS - Public money for Public value

why the arts matter

“Part of the exhaustion of being an arts worker in Australia is that our very existence is continually in public question. Again and again, we have to assert presence and value. It is impossible to simply assume that culture is a common good: it must be constantly argued.” (Croggon, 2017)


Around 85% of Australians believe that the arts make life richer and more meaningful. 38% participate actively in the arts more than 6 times a year. More Australians attend art galleries than go to the football. We buy more books per head than almost any other nation… and yet as professional art makers we still have to continually defend and draw attention to the fact that that we exist and that we need to be paid for what we do. We need to justify and re-justify that it is how we make our living.

The question isn’t if we should create or participate in culture. It isn’t why or even how we engage. We do that anyway, its part of being human.

The question is why should government prioritise paying for professional artists to produce art and to lead cultural development and production?


We want to protect arts funding in this country. We want to make sure Australia funds professional arts workers to make art and lead cultural development well into the future, for our children and grandchildren and for the artists of coming generations.


is a social action & media campaign to raise awareness of the public value of the arts, and make the case for public money for arts and culture that represent public value.

Public value is contested. There is disagreement about what is or should be of value to the public. Nevertheless, public value is determined by reference to collectively desired social outcomes that are expressed through the democratic process.

Through our media and social action campaign we will call on the community to disrupt and rethink how people think and talk about culture and the arts.

We want people to recognise the value of arts and culture as a common and necessary good.

And we want governments to commit to ongoing public funding for public value in the cultural sphere.

We want to see the arts on the agenda again for the next election!

STEP 1 of the campaign will be to make a video that seeks to articulate some of the reasons why the arts matter.

There will be other actions that will be taken as part of the campaign which will unfold over the next couple of years. If you have ideas or want to be involved, a working party is being formed now – send your contact details to Jami Bladel – director@kickstart.org.au

Key Points (Updated Live)

NB :- You can re-order key points by clicking and dragging
  • We identified some questions to address the question of how can we agree on and run and public awareness campaign on the value of the arts.

    (1) Questions relating to “How can we agree on...” Who speaks, who are we speaking to what do we say? We explored the possibility of the citizens democracy platform online which would allow people to communicate and connect easily around particular interest groups, which would allow leaders with skills in the area of leadership and communication etc to be accountable and informed while hopefully avoiding “celebrity spokespeople”. open invitation for anyone to join

    (2) questions relating to “how do we run...” Timing of the campaign purpose of the campaign (1) get people to understand and value the role of arts and artists in our society (eg social and political commentators and change-makers, creating beauty, ideas, paradigm shifts, building community welbeing and health) and this will hopefully lead to artists getting a livable wage, better arts education, more opportunities, $$$ etc (2) encourage people to advocate for the arts. turning people from consumers into advocates for the arts. Medium term objectives, long term objects - demonstrating the power of acting collaboratively Ideas for this campaign include the ATYP video, the cast of Hamilton calling out Pence, other artistic interventions. An idea proposed was an advertisement depicting daily life without art, eg everything is ugly and badly designed, ugly clothes and buildings cos they havent been designed, no music, people are miserable and bored

  • Celebrate our diversity under the banners of assertive and proudly positive key messages

Live Chat

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Arts Front
10th Mar, 10:49am



Attending were: Jami Bladel (Kickstart Arts), Richard Bladel (Kickstart Arts), Steve Thomas (Roar Film), Sean ? (National Archives), Phil ?, Christine ? (Sculptor), Kevin ? (United Notions), Jude ? Artistic Director, Sylvano ? (Warburton WA – Youth Arts)

  1. Discussion where Jami, Richard and Steve presented background to the session. Arts Awareness campaign was raised in the lead up to the Federal election in July 2016. Whilst there was general agreement that such a campaign could be a strong idea – there was some feeling that the message would need to be defined better and the timing could be seen as a bit ‘knee-jerk’. It was agreed at that time to raise the issue at a later time.

  2. Jami put the initial thesis that our aim in this process might be… to justify and increase the public funding for public arts programs. A counter argument was put – Why should the Government support the public art.

  3. The conversation quickly moved onto a discussion about the use of the word ARTS as an all-encompassing term to describe a whole range of disparate activities. There was discussion about substituting the word CULTURE. Access to culture is enshrined in the United Nations Charter. ARTS and CULTURE are not interchangeable terms.

It was felt that the grab-bag term ARTS allows Government decision makers to defund the sector on very scant evidence. The term ARTS INDUSTRY was also felt to be misleading and again played into the hands of Government because as an industry it can be quantified and criticised in terms of financial benefit.

It was felt by some that the term ARTS was beyond saving and should be put out to pasture.

The question of valuing ARTS/CULTURE was discussed at length.

• It was seen as fundamental to our understanding of the human condition • It was felt that an Awareness Campaign must take an emotional rather than intellectual position. • The way to influence decision makers by changing public opinion so that it impacts on voting intention. • Jami suggested a thematic approach to a campaign might be based around the statement - IT’S WHO WE ARE! • There was general support for a campaign and there was discussion about the form a campaign might take. • It was also stressed by several people that it was important to define what action we are trying to initiate with the campaign… and that the message was very different to the ‘ask’. • Sylvano raised the very valid point that there is huge diversity amongst stakeholders and that his particular group (remote Indigenous young people) had very different needs and views to others involved in cultural work/practice. He felt that their views were often not considered. • Tasks for the Campaign were defined as follows: o Define Arts Communities o Identify Advocates and Surrogates o Redefine CULTURE. Campaign should place emphasis on CULTURE o Use interventions to build pressure (slow burn) o The Campaign needs levels – MULTI-DIMENSIONAL NUANCES o The Campaign should embed the debate about the value of CULTURE o The Campaign should be BIPARTISAN o There was agreement that we should formulate short, medium and long term goals for any Campaign o Timelines for a Campaign were discussed. Some thought it should be tied to the election cycle but it was agreed that this was too narrow and also not definable as our next election could be in 6 months.

  1. There was a suggestion made that one way of getting the broader public to take notice would be to have a public shutdown of Arts/Culture. A STRIKE! There was some support for this idea as a symbolic idea. Wrapping sculptures and paintings, closing galleries and art schools etc etc.

It was felt that if this was part of a bigger campaign that also included other interventions it could be quite powerful. It would have the effect of stimulating debate.

Questions were raised – Who do we shut down? Is it a full on action of a ‘brown out’? Is it like Earth Hour?

Other interventions were also raised – specifically the ‘CURTAIN CALL’ intervention by the NSW Theatre Directors. Similar in tone to the Mike Pence curtain call in at Hamilton in New York.

  1. It was agreed that we should form a leadership group to further refine objectives and brief. As a starting point we agreed that it could consist of the group around the table as they represent a broad range of sectors and skills. There was broad agreement although Sylvano expressed an issue re access as his community is so remote.