TNA’s Advocacy provides a voice for the performing arts, prioritising independents and small to medium companies.

We do this in eight key ways: Policy campaigns; Meetings with agencies (eg. Australia Council); Liaison with politicians and advisors; Representing issues to the Meeting of Cultural Ministers; Collaborating with our Advocacy Partners; Representing the sector in the mediaSubmissions; and Research.

Head to Advocacy Updates for our recent pursuits, which are guided by our Priorities.

Below are some key examples of TNA’s advocacy work.

March 2017
Catalyst Fund Scrapped by Coalition

From The Australian, Matthew Westwood, 18 March 2017.

“The Turnbull government has bowed to pressure from the cultural sector and will scrap a controversial arts “slush fund” that stripped millions of dollars from the independent Australia Council and threw arts companies into turmoil.

…The funding “reset” will see $61 million from the Catalyst fund returned to the Australia Council from next financial year, ending almost two years of upheaval in federal arts subsidies.

Arts Minister Mitch Fifield said the government had listened to concerns of the arts sector. “It’s clear that there were lessons to be learnt and we’ve learnt them,” he said yesterday.

The Department of Communications and the Arts, which ran Catalyst, will retain $2m a year for cultural programs but “Catalyst as we know it will be concluded”.

Former arts minister George Brandis established the fund in 2015 as the National Program for Excellence in the Arts, a move that blindsided the Australia Council and was condemned by the Opposition as a ministerial “slush fund”. The program removed more than $100m across four years from the Australia Council, forcing the agency to downsize and scrap grant programs.”

Federal Budget Changes - Timeline of Events

The impact of 2014-2015 Federal budget changes, had a huge flow on effect. This timeline details both the Free The Arts and I Stand With The Arts campaigns and their impact.

I Stand With The Arts

The four year funding announcements in May 2016 had a devastating impact in the small to medium sector, illustrating exactly what the sector feared when then Minister George Brandis took $104 million from the Australia Council (reduced to $72million when new Minister Fifield returned some of the funding). 62 organisations lost multi-year funding in total in that round, and many others were affected.

The total amount of funding now allocated on a recurrent basis, to small to medium organisations, is less than what used to be available to this sector across a variety of investment streams, not just through the key organisations program.

Theatre Network Australia urges the following:

1. That an additional $21.25 million per year be added to the Australia Council for the Arts’ budget to cover unfunded excellence, as recommended in the Angus James and Gabrielle Trainor Review of the Australia Council (2012).

2. That all political parties articulate their policies on arts and culture, and outline how they see the arts contributing to Australia’s future.

Free The Arts

#freethearts was a campaign in response to Former Federal Arts Minister George Brandis pulling $104.8 million from the Australia Council, over four years, to start a National Program for Excellence in the Arts (NPEA) run by the Ministry for the Arts.

The sector’s actions brought about a return of most of the money to the Australia Council, and the essential closing down of the Catalyst program.

TNA Director, Nicole Beyer, and her colleagues across Australia, including Tamara Winikoff (NAVA) and Norm Horton and Sarah Moynihan (Feral Arts), worked tirelessly on the campaign, informing the sector about progress, liaising with MPs and Senators, facilitating media coverage, and continually urging the sector to speak up.

November 2017
Tasmanian Performing Arts Sector Communique

On November 17th, 2017, Theatre Network Australia and Tasmania Performs brought together a group of performing artists and companies, venues and festivals in Hobart to explore the critical factors affecting the performing arts sector in Tasmania.

As part of this event, a number of critical issues and problems were identified:

  • Lack of recognition of the value of artists’ contribution to the State’s brand and reputation as a cultural leader and their economic input (including foregone income).
  • Limited access to funding and other support so as to capitalise on increased opportunities provided by new arts festivals and events around the state– the ‘pool’ of government funding is relatively small and shrinking, the ‘competition’ for resources (from government, business, donors, audiences) is increasing.
  • Little informed criticism of work produced and presented in Tasmania, which inhibits growth and development.
  • Limited opportunities for creative exchange, especially with colleagues in other states as the costs of travelling are beyond capacity of most artists and companies.
  • Because of the poor financial return, many artists lack time to devote to their creative work due to other pressures and responsibilities.
  • The costs of creating, producing and presenting work – venue hire, staff, promotions and marketing, advertising, etc – are considerable impediments and mean that artists’ time and energies are often diverted to more practical and administrative than creative tasks.
  • Inadequate recognition of the mental health issues faced by artists, exacerbated by financial struggles.
  • To date, there has been no opportunity to include childcare costs for artists in Arts Tasmania grant applications (though Arts Tasmania’s new guidelines allow for child care costs to be included in a funding request).
Creative State Strategy - Progress Report

“…Some interventions have been swiftly and simply actioned, others require further consultation and input from the sector and other partners….” – Minister Martin Foley

Creative State is the Victorian Government’s four-year strategy to grow Victoria’s creative industries and the contribution they make to Victoria. Its 40 actions vary in complexity and focus. Some are about getting the foundations right for success, some address longstanding gaps, and others seek to create bold new opportunities.

Read the Progress Report for updates on each of the actions.

May 2016
TNA's Nicole Beyer appointed to the Creative State Advisory Board (CSAB)

Chaired by Creative Industries Minister Martin Foley, CSAB provides advice on aspects of strategy and implementation for Creative State. Nicole provides a voice for our members.

The board will work across Government, with Creative Victoria and with Victoria’s creative industries sector to advise on the development and delivery of new priorities. It will debate, prioritise and take a leadership role in implementing government policy to ensure the success of Creative State.

The Creative State Advisory Board will comprise 12 members appointed for an initial three-year period.

Other Board members include:
Robert Connolly (Film Director, Producer, Screenwriter)
Richard Frankland (Filmmaker, Artist, Head Of Wilin Centre, VCA)
Ella Hooper (Singer-songwriter, Radio Presenter, TV Personality)
Graeme Lewsey (CEO, Melbourne Fashion Festival)
Alice Nash (Executive Producer and Co-CEO, Back To Back Theatre)
Tony Reed (CEO, Game Developers Association Australia)
Katrina Sedgwick (Director/CEO, Australian Centre For The Moving Image)
Melis Senova (Founder and Managing Director, Huddle Design)
Kate Torney (Chief Executive, State Library Victoria)
Peter Tullin (Cultural entrepreneur and co-founder, & REMIX Summits)
Marcus Westbury (Broadcaster, Writer, Media-Maker, Festival Director, CEO)

April 2016
Victorian Government releases Creative State

Creative State is Victoria’s first creative industries strategy. It comes more than $115 million in new funding (a need identified in TNV’s submission). Creative State is designed to grow Victoria’s $23 billion creative and cultural economy, turbocharge local creative enterprises, create new jobs and employment opportunities, and bring social and cultural benefits to Victorians.

November 2015
Taskforce Report Released

The Taskforce Report is made public, which includes a number of initiatives as proposed in TNV’s submission. The next step was to support a budget bid for funding to support the new Creative Industries Strategy.

August 2015
Pursuing TNV's Creative Industries Strategy Submission

TNV pursued our strategic priorities through consultation workshops, meetings with Taskforce and Reference Group members, and meetings with Minister Martin Foley. Read our submission.