The Daniel Andrews government has just received a 40-page interim report from a “Taskforce” it set up in April charged with consulting with the “creative industries” (formerly known as “the arts”) to help develop Victoria’s first creative industries strategy, scheduled for announcement in late 2016. The taskforce, headed by the ubiquitous Louise Adler, took into account many contributions from workshops and a dedicated website.
As a comment: the Victorian government has taken an initiative here that was not a political imperative. That is heartening and we can hope that it takes the next step and produces some tangible outcomes. We note that alone among Australian governments, so far as we know, the Andrews government is injecting funds and thought into improving school music education.
Among the findings:
“Creativity at the centre: a desire to see creative practice and creative industries embedded in and across all community life, and to see creativity understood, valued, widely practised and applied.
“Excellence and risk: that all creators aspire to ‘excellence’, but to make bold, original and innovative work artists must be allowed to take risks and occasionally fail.
“Collaboration: that greater collaboration across disciplines, and indeed, across industries is essential for the ecology of the sector, providing opportunities to produce new work, share resources and ideas and to create new partnerships with other sectors.
“Creative spaces: ‘hubs’, precincts and co-working spaces are widely supported, both in terms of what is created and how it is created, to facilitate collaboration and encourage risk-taking.
“Education: clearer career pathways are needed from secondary school as well as tertiary education; arts education is important for both future practitioners and audiences; the education system must help equip students with creative and enterprise skills.
“Professional development: internships, mentorships and fellowships are important for emerging, mid-career and established practitioners.
“Entrepreneurial and business skills: these are important for a sustainable sector and strategies to increase them, or access to them, across all industries should be pursued.
“Diversity and inclusion: these should be at the heart of the new strategy, and the cultural and creative industries need to reflect the diverse lives of all Victorians and be accessible to all from both an employment and an audience perspective.
“Whole-of-government approach: a more cohesive and coordinated government approach across all its levels is needed for the creative industries to flourish.
“Funding: major suggestions included a restructure of current funding mechanisms allowing for more diverse and experimental work; new funding sources and models; investing in new ideas, research and development – and investing in people and capabilities as much as physical infrastructure and assets.
“Aboriginal arts and culture: a strategy that increases the representation of Aboriginal arts and culture and improves access to it was strongly suggested. This includes greater professional development for Aboriginal creative practitioners, greater participation by Aboriginal practitioners in mainstream cultural organisations and dedicated Aboriginal events, organisations and activities.
“Social and cultural benefits: a new strategy should recognise and support the profound social and cultural importance of the creative industries to Victorian communities (through improved health, participation, social inclusion and community cohesion).
“Measurement and data: better ways are needed to measure social and cultural value as well as improved access to comprehensive data and analysis by the sector.”
Among the recommendations:
“Fellowships to enable creative practitioners to sustain and advance their careers at key points.
“A Commissioning Fund to generate landmark Victorian creative works.
“Increasing professional placements, on-the-job-training and secondment opportunities.
“Accelerator programs for creative and cultural entrepreneurs.
“Co-working spaces and hubs that activate under-utilised spaces for creative use.
“Funding to enable Victorian talent to gain international exposure and build global networks.
The Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley, said he will establish and chair a Creative Industries Council, as recommended in the report, to oversee the implementation of the government’s strategy.
The Taskforce’s recommendations are available for public comment at http://www.strategy.creative.vic.gov.au.
Dr Richard Letts AM is the founder and Director of The Music Trust, founder and former Executive Director of the Music Council of Australia (now Music Australia) and Past President of the International Music Council. He has held senior positions in music and culture in Australia and the United States, advocated for music and music education, conducted research, written policy documents, edited four periodicals, published four books and hundreds of articles.