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Cultural Relations Summit

I today hosted a Cultural Relations Summit in Adelaide.

It provided me with a unique opportunity to meet with a select group of leading figures from across the range of areas of Australian arts and culture to discuss a national approach to promoting Australia abroad more effectively through the arts.

The Summit underlines the commitment of the Government to close and genuine consultation with Australia's arts and cultural community on issues of concern and interest to them.

The Summit also underlines the commitment of the Government, as stated in the Government's Foreign and Trade Policy White Paper, to encouraging contributions to and involvement in Australia's public diplomacy program by a wide range of interested parties, in particular Federal and State government agencies, educational and cultural bodies, business and non- government organisations.

Discussion at the Summit covered a wide canvas of issues of interest to the arts and wider cultural community. It specifically focussed on improved management of the overseas cultural program and sources of corporate/private sector funding.

As a result of these discussions I have agreed to the establishment of a consultative group, the "Australian International Cultural Council", which could be charged with:

. Devising a series of rolling three year strategic plans for cultural promotion and cultural export

. Monitoring the implementation of these plans

. Monitoring Australia's international cultural relations activities, including those generated by state bodies

. Coordinating the overseas cultural activities of state, federal, private sector and business organisations

Such a group would meet with me every three months to discuss the effectiveness of the cultural relations program and any problem areas that participants might want to see addressed; it would comprise 10- 12 participants.

I have also agreed to host another Cultural Relations Summit, to be held in a year's time, to take stock of the consultative group's work.

A range of ideas on ways of accessing more corporate/private sector funding were considered by Summit participants. I envisage that the consultative group will seek to come up with concrete proposals on the basis of these ideas.

In response to a range of ideas suggested by participants on how the current DFAT cultural relations program could be improved, I made the following commitments:

. to write to all Federal and State Ministers to ask them to try, when feasible, to attend performances/exhibitions by touring Australian groups/artists in country when they are travelling officially and ensure that Australian diplomatic missions are aware of this commitment when formulating official itineraries for visiting Ministers.

. that Australian diplomatic mission in key markets will assist Australian organisers of major Australian performances/exhibitions touring overseas by offering them an integrated package of assistance which would comprise

helping Australian organisers to liaise with local promoters to secure local venues for performances/exhibitions;

publicising major performances by providing Australian organisers with names of relevant local media contacts and sending publicity material provided by Australian organisers to local media;

providing lists to Australian organisers of mission- related political/cultural/trade contacts for invitation purposes

buying up a small proportion of seats at discounted prices (to be negotiated with organisers) for selected guests (VIPs; others of specific interest) for one in- country performance by major Australian groups - where these tickets are not likely to be sold; and

ensuring Heads of Mission accord priority to hosting functions for visiting groups/artists to promote performances/exhibitions.

with the practical elements of such assistance being provided primarily through the Austrade representative or a dedicated cultural marketing officer at the post.

. that DFAT will collaborate with the National Gallery of Australia on an international program of touring Australian Indigenous art and to assist with funding such a program; and to discuss with the Gallery possible collaboration on a program of touring a wide range of works of Australian art.

. to raise the threshold of the Cultural Awards Scheme program from next financial year to $200,000 p.a. and to specifically target cultural media in key markets: part of the program cost would pay an external consultant to run the program.

. that DFAT will expedite access by Australian diplomatic missions to "Australia's Cultural Network" website to be launched by the Minister for Communications, the Information Economy and the Arts on 15 April 1998 (pilot website is on- line at www.acn.net.au).

. to increase awareness of financial assistance available under the Export Market Development Grants Scheme, particularly the changes made by this Government to extend the description of services to cover entertainment services.

. that Australian diplomatic missions will place on their Internet Home Page a cultural relations strategy paper for their host company for access by Australian arts organisations including, where relevant, information about local government structures and contacts in relation to culture.

. that DFAT will continue training in Australia and overseas of locally engaged staff at Australian diplomatic missions dealing with cultural issues and consult closely with relevant cultural organisations during visits by these staff to Australia; and in principle, that where possible DFAT staff at posts dealing with cultural relations travel to Australia for familiarisation every two- three years.

. that DFAT run regular Integrated Country Promotions; and specifically that there be another Integrated Country Promotion in an Asian country in 1999/2000 following the Philippines (Nov 1998), India (1996), Indonesia (1994), Japan (1993) and Korea (1992).

Further information:

Innes Willox, 0411 414 695