Investment delivers for visual artists

Australia Council for the Arts,
03 April 2010, Australia

A $90 million investment in the visual arts and craft sector has delivered significant benefits to individual artists and arts organisations, according to a report released by the Australia Council for the Arts.

The report evaluates the effectiveness of the multi-government Visual Arts and Craft Strategy (VACS) 2004-2009, developed in response to Rupert Myer’s landmark Report of the Contemporary Visual Arts and Crafts Inquiry in 2002.

The evaluation records the achievements of the 34 VACS-funded visual arts organisations managed by the Australia Council’s Visual Arts Board, and is based on interviews with senior staff from all state and territory arts agencies, state and territory ministerial advisors, senior staff from 53 organisations and 55 sector leaders.

It finds that the VACS investment has enabled the Visual Arts Board to boost funding to individual artists by 48 per cent since 2004 and state and territory funding to artists to increase by 34 percent. Income from philanthropy and sponsorship rose from $3.7 million in 2004 to $18.9 million in 2008. Audiences attending events run by VACS organisations increased 96 per cent from 2001 to 2008.

“Creating opportunities for artists to boost their careers and income is a strategic priority of the Australia Council,” said Australia Council CEO, Kathy Keele at the announcement at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in Melbourne on 6 August 2010.

“As this evaluation shows, the VACS investment by all governments has given arts organisations the opportunity to improve their business planning and marketing which has led to this large increase in audience participation. All this is great news for our artists. VACS has delivered to our artists and to our audiences, from remote to metropolitan Australia, more exhibitions of a better quality to more locations.”

Joining Kathy Keele and Rupert Myer AM at the announcement, Visual Arts Board Chair, Professor Ted Snell AM, said that VACS had consistently realised its aims set by the Cultural Ministers Council in 2003.

“The strategy has provided increased funding to established artists, improved organisational support to artists, developed stronger business and operational planning, improved audience engagement and significantly expanded the role of private benefactors, sponsors and sales,” said Professor Snell.

“Without VACS, these outcomes would not have been possible and I know that governments, audiences and the sector value highly these economic and cultural outcomes. The evaluation provides us all with the data on how to continue the gains achieved by the strategy.”

Further information about the report can be found here.