South Australia’s Marshall Government has announced that a new Arts Plan will be developed to “undertake a comprehensive review of the state’s arts, cultural and creative sector”, overhaul its existing funding structures in the arts, and introduce “a fresh narrative about arts and culture”. In its broad scope and emphasis on employment and industry, it looks to be similar to Victoria’s $115 million Creative State launched in 2016.
To be spearheaded by Tony Grybowski, former CE of the Australia Council, the Arts Plan will take form over six months through a broad-based consultation process consisting of “digital surveys, focus groups, interviews and ‘town-hall’ meetings that will be held across the state”.
The Plan is expected to be delivered by the middle of this year, the Premier Steven Marshall announced in a press statement.
Joining Grybowski will be a team of consultants comprising leadership consultant Graeme Gherashe, writer and business storytelling consultant Claire Scobie, arts policy specialist Kathryn Deyell, and cultural geographer Sarah Barns. Assisting them will be an Advisory Group made up of state and national arts and industry leaders.
A key part of the plan is that it will consider how the arts play an important part of SA’s economy: collectively the sector employs over 16,000 people in the state. Particular importance will also be given to the role that the arts play in communities right across SA.
“We’re looking forward to meeting artists and stakeholders in metropolitan, rural and remote areas to hear their stories, ideas and aspirations. This will help us to understand better the needs of the rich and diverse communities across South Australia,” Grybowski said.
No dollar figure has been attached to the Plan, and presumably this has to wait until its recommendations are costed. Nor is there any word yet about how the Plan will impact on the operations of the government’s primary arts funding agency, Arts South Australia. In September 2018, the Marshall Government gave notice that it will strip $4.9 million from SA’s arts budget and reduce staffing at the agency by “least a 42%”, causing much concern amongst the state’s arts community. This new announcement gives cause for hope, but many will be wanting to see this Plan translate into a healthy financial commitment.