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Launch of Australia Business Arts Foundation Red Book: speech.



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Speech for launch of Australia Business Arts Foundation Red Book

Tuesday 31 July 2001

The Hon Peter McGauran, MP

Thankyou Ric.

Ric Allert and ABAF councillors, ABAF Board Member Michael Abbott, Winsome McCaughey, special guests, ladies and gentlemen.

Society has not always been particularly kind to its artists.

Throughout history, creative individuals have withstood periods of totalitarianism and puritanism, periodic book-burnings and recurring attempts at cultural obliteration.

In all ages, in all nations, artists, writers and performers have stubbornly pursued their craft, undaunted by periods of social neglect, disinterest, or outright suppression.

So strong is the creative impulse that it has often been easy for society to convince itself that hardship and penury must be in some way intrinsic to artistic credibility - to believe that artists must suffer if their art is to be any good.

We tend to romanticise the image of the writer, huddled in an unheated flat, the composer coughing over his manuscript, the wandering minstrel, sleeping rough.

If society has traditionally thought much about a suitable nexus between the world of business and the world of creativity, it has tended to think in historical terms, of royal or ecclesiastical patronage, or, in modern terms, of corporate sponsorship of the ballet or the opera.

I am delighted to be here today to launch a manual The Red Book - that will help more Australian corporations and cultural organisations enter into partnerships not as patron and beneficiary, but as equals, for their mutual benefit.

There will always be room in society for acts of individual patronage.

But increasingly, Australian corporations recognise that there are other ways of "doing

business" with the cultural sector. And increasingly, cultural organisations are looking for long-term relationships which involve something more than hand-to-mouth sponsorship.

Partnerships are being sealed which are bringing real and measurable bottom-line results to corporations, on top of the moral and social rewards which come with good corporate citizenship.

The Australian Business Arts Foundation is at the forefront in educating both businesses and cultural organisations about the potential for partnerships.

It was just a year ago, on August 2, 2000, that the Prime Minister, John Howard, Senator Richard Alston, and I joined 50 of Australia's most senior business leaders for the inaugural council meeting of the Australia Business Arts Foundation.

It was the day a historic shift took place in the paradigm governing business support of the arts.

Challenges remain.

We still have the situation in Australia where only one per cent of businesses formally contribute to the future of the arts.

Paradoxically, more Australians attend art-house cinema each year than sit in the stands at an Australian Rules football game.

More attend the ballet in any given year than go to the races.

Yet corporate sponsorship of sport still outweighs the sponsorship of the arts by a ratio of ten to one.

But things are changing.

A year ago, councillors of the Australia business arts foundation agreed to become vocal advocates of business-arts partnerships and to work through state-based chapters to spread the word.

Such chapters have already been set up here in South Australia, as well as in Queensland, NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and - soon - Western Australia.

Councillors spread the word, in part, by leading by example by entering into partnerships themselves.

They help interested parties make connections and start conversation.

They are at work, right now, in this room, introducing business colleagues to the benefits of business arts partnerships, convincing arts organisations of the merits of collaboration.

The Foundation's mission is to equip those in business and the arts to forge their own strategic partnerships, to facilitate, educate and broker.

The purpose of the manual being launched today is to spread the word even further.

Corporations and cultural organisations have much to offer each other.

And the more strategic and long-term the partnerships are, the greater the rewards.

The Red Book is designed to show cultural organisations that they have nothing to fear and everything to gain from forging a partnership with a suitable corporation.

The possibilities are restricted only by the imaginations of the partners, and the effort they are prepared to put into extracting the most they can from the relationship.

I believe that The Red Book will be an important means of breaking down old perceptions in Australia.

I know that the Australia Business Arts Foundation attacks with zeal the task of bringing business and culture together.

But even the best missionary likes to be able to leave the converted with something to mull over.

Even the most willing convert likes a user's manual to peruse.

Now the converts have two manuals -The Blue Book, for corporations, which was published a year ago, and this publication - The Red Book - for their cultural partners-in-waiting.

The Red Book will enable arts organisations to approach corporations confident that they are presenting a compelling case - in a language the corporations will understand.

In a moment we will see some examples of some of those compelling cases.

And early next month, we will have the opportunity to applaud some of the finest examples of business-arts partnerships, when the prime minister presents the inaugural Australia Business Arts Foundation Awards, in Sydney.

The Commonwealth Government has watched the growth and commitment of the Foundation during the past year.

More than 160 cultural organisations have so far attended foundation workshops, supported by the Australia Council.

Commonwealth funding for the Foundation in 2001-2002 will total $1.6 million.

In May this year, the standing committee of the Cultural Ministers' Council endorsed the Foundation's proposal for a national network of chapters, bringing state and territory governments officially on board.

Already, Arts South Australia is providing office space and administrative support for the Foundation's state representative, Allanah Dopson.

The Foundation's ambition is bold but achievable.

As a society we are rethinking our attitudes regarding the proper relationship between business and the arts.

I feel certain that when we look back, in another decade, on these early years of the Australia Business Arts Foundation, we will appreciate the profound nature of the change the men and women here tonight are helping to engineer.

I thank you for inviting me to join you at the first annual corporate function of the South Australian branch of the Foundation.

It gives me great pleasure to officially launch Business arts partnerships - a guide for the cultural sector - short title: The Red Book.

Thankyou.

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