25 – 27 June 2017
Arts Front | Feral Arts
sunrise over Clifton Beach – All That We Are
It was a big few days on the island with the Tassie mob grabbing the opportunity to dream big and share ideas about a better future for arts and culture in Tasmania and the country as a whole.
Tassie Arts Front members Andry Sculthorpe, Jami Bladel and Richard Bladel (Kickstart Arts), Simon Spain and Vic Ryle (All That We Are) and Kate Mackie and David Sudmalis (Arts Tasmania) were our hosts and partners in organising three very successful meetings:
- Arts Tasmania Meeting – 25th June
- First Nations Meeting – 25th June
- All That We Are Gathering – 26th June
(special thanks to Jami Bladel who did a lot of the heavy lifting and ‘behind the scenes’ wrangling!)
The main purpose of the meetings was to set the ball rolling on working out how Tasmania could be involved with Arts Front, which is being activated across the country over the next three years. Some of the questions that were explored included:
- what are the opportunities for partnering – festivals, conferences, events, performances, gatherings?
- how can we provide meaningful access for – First Nations artists, culturally and linguistically diverse artists, regional artists, artists with disabilities, LGBTIQ artists, independent artists and young and emerging artists?
- how do we connect and profile artistic work that can add to the dialogue about shared visions for the future?
- how do we build awareness of the public value of the arts in the broader community?
It was great to be joined on the road by Arts Front Steering Group chair Peter White and his partner Kelley.
(L-R) Simon Spain, Vic Ryle, William White, Kelley White, PJ White, Peter White, Norm Horton, Thea Horton and Sarah Moynihan @ all that we are
There is a great platform to build on with Kickstart Arts committed to hosting follow-up gatherings in the coming weeks. We invite everyone who has yet to join Arts Front to jump onto the Arts Front website and create a profile – it’s the best way to stay connected!
Arts Tasmania Meeting – Monday 25th June
We were delighted to kick off our visit to the Island by catching up with the good folk at Arts Tasmania. We shared morning tea and began to explore ways we can work together through Arts Front over the next three years.
David Sudmalis and his team updated us on the big changes underway at Arts Tasmania and some of the great outcomes for the arts in the recent state budget. One of the strong synergies that bubbled to surface pretty quickly was the shared focus on children and young people. Children and young people have been a consistently high priority in Arts Front gatherings across the country. Arts Tasmania has taken the lead, winning new targeted investment for children and young people somewhat against the prevailing current nationally and in other states and territories.
We discussed how Arts Front might play a role connecting the Tassie work with the emerging national conversation around children and young people, including the National Summit coming up in October. https://carclew.com.au/Program/national-youth-arts-summit
The Arts Tasmania folk also expressed a strong interest in the First Peoples First campaign and what it might mean on the ground in Tasmania. We committed to continuing to collaborate and we were delighted that Kate Mackie was able to join the gathering at All That We Are the following day.
First Nations Meeting – Monday 25th June
Kickstart Arts Centre ( New Town)
First Nations meeting at the Kickstart Arts Centre – image Jami Bladel
Andry Sculthorpe, a board member of Kickstart Arts, did a fantastic job of bringing a great group of First Nations artists and community leaders to the table on a chilly Monday night. We shared some tasty curries that were just a little spicier than expected. As it turned out, this was quite a good analogy for the conversation that followed.
A number of people expressed frustration with current funding models. The feedback is that application processes are turning some First Nations artists and communities away. The meeting called for a rethink of the application and assessment processes, tapping into Aboriginal ways of knowing and working. More broadly, the meeting identified the need for transparency and for Aboriginal control of Aboriginal funding, heritage and culture.
The meeting challenged Arts Front to use language that is accessible and easily understood in the local community. For example, rather than decolonisation people suggested using treaty as a way to describe the changes required in the broader community.
The clear advice is that Arts Front needs to be more than just talk – action is needed in terms of:
- Lobbying and activism
- Projects on the ground
- Creating spaces for collaboration, networking and cultural practice
Ruth Langford shared an update on a new arts access space being set up in Hobart.
The First Nations group decided it would meet again with Andry taking the lead.
All That We Are – Planning Workshop
A wonderful group of people gathered in the beautiful surrounds of All That We Are – at Clifton Beach. Our hosts Simon Spain and Vic Ryle created a warm and inviting space with great food and incredible views that inspired people to share and dream big!
Peter White lead the conversation inviting everyone to introduce themselves and share one change they would like to see by 2030 and some strong themes emerged:
- Treaties with First Nations
- Redirecting resources to children / young people
- Cross generational engagement
- Building a bridge between black and white / old and new
- Youth Arts – cohesive design
- Youth Arts – healing through the arts
- The importance of arts for health and wellbeing
- More Aboriginal performance within the mainstream.
- The role of arts and film in shaping our future
- Youth Arts are valued and supported
- Diversity / Growth is embraced, more open mindedness
- Recognition of the centrality of the Arts – shaping our culture
- Develop a culture of doing – arts as central to who we are.
- Accessible stories – more sharing, how they’re told
- Public and community value of the Arts across all levels
- Diverse ways of knowing – education to break down the barriers
- Open spaces for discovery
- Youth accessibility – a youth voice creating its own cultural capability
- Community valuing cultural differences and the Arts
Jami Bladel, Troy melville, Lara van Ray, Gai Anderson, Rachel Edwards
From left: Gai Anderson, Adie Delaney, LAra Van Ray, Eva Grace, Sarah Wright, Michelle Forbes, Peter Wight, Victoria Ryle, Judy Hunter, Ruth Langford, Simon Spain,
Peter outlined the Arts Front framing of First Peoples First and challenged people to consider not just the future of arts and culture but its role in helping to shape the country we want to live in. He shared a Federal Government website that Richard Bladel took up the challenge:
“This arts vision is a challenge to the values of this nation. This is the Australia we’d love to have – where people respect each other, where love and generosity is core to everything we do…It actually boils down to that stuff – what kind of life do we want to have as co-inhabitants of this planet”.
For others the priority was as much on listening and creating spaces for voices to come to the surface.
“It was deeply affecting about how much change can come from just supporting someone to listen as much as supporting someone to tell stories or share stories together”
Judy Hunter, Mary-Ann Hunter ( no relation!)
We shared a few insights from other Arts Front gatherings, including the concept of building our visions for the future on international rights-based frameworks developed by the United Nations. We put forward the image of a tree with the deep root system representing the UN statement on the rights of Indigenous People and the branches representing other international rights frameworks (children and young people, cultural diversity etc). We have the challenge of getting arts and culture on the sustainable development agenda for 2030.
Young people, schools and education were a major topic of conversation. For some it was exploring how to build the footprint of the arts in the school system whilst for others it was about working in community outside of the school system.
Kate Mackie,Troy melville, Jami Bladel , Richard Bladel
The group explored opportunities for Tassie to lead a national project to articulate the value of arts and culture in the broader community. Storytelling – especially through film and video – was identified as one of the big strengths in the room that could take the lead nationally. We discussed how the AFL had been successful in engaging community and winning broad support – what are the lessons for arts and culture?
There were strong statements about moving away from silos and competitiveness and towards a unity of purpose at a whole of sector level. The idea of shared calendar of events was put forward as something that was underway in Tasmania and could build into a national system.
The role of arts and culture in healing and supporting health and well being was a strong thread and proposed as a way to bring the whole sector together with a collective purpose.
The group expressed its strong support for Treaty with First Nations people as a fundamental part of our shared vision for the future and explored the potential for arts to play a role in winning the support of the broader community.
To top it all off Lara van Raay revealed her plans to create a bumper sticker! Yep – it’s a hotbed of activism down in Tassie and we can’t wait for the next installment!
A huge thanks to everyone for making us so welcome and for the inspiring time together.
Image – Lara van Raay
Norm Horton and Sarah Moynihan
Arts Front | Feral Arts