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Australia Council celebrates 30 years of achievements.

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Media Release



Minister for Communications, the Information Economy and the Arts

Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate


Australia Council celebrates 30 years of achievements


The Federal Minister for the Arts, Sena tor Richard Alston, today used the occasion of the Australia Council’s 30th birthday to reaffirm the Government’s strong commitment to funding a strong and vibrant arts sector.


‘The arts enrich our life, provide employment for tens of thousands, entertain, provoke and challenge. They help define what it is to be Australian,’ Senator Alston said.


‘Artists not only explore and reinvent the way Australians see themselves, but also show people overseas what it means to be Australian.


‘Notwithstanding the current threat to the arts from narrow-minded individuals such as Pauline Hanson and David Oldfield, Australia’s arts and cultural sector is thriving.


‘Much of this success can be credited to the Australia Council.


‘In 1968, when the Australian Council for the Arts met for the first time, the questions faced by the arts at the time would today seem easily answered. But it must be remembered that in 1968, the arts in Australia was only just emerging from the overshadowing influence of Australia’s overwhelmingly Anglo-Celtic heritage.’


The Council, first chaired by Dr. H.C. Coombs, helped lead the way to the unique position in which the arts community finds itself at the moment. On that way, some of Australia’s leading lights, including Peter Karmel, Donald Home, Geoffrey Blainey and Hilary McPhee, were a major feature of the rise of a truly Australian artistic culture.


‘The Council has been at the forefront of support for the arts during an unprecedented period of expansion in the level of creativity by Australian artists, as well as a huge increase in the number of arts companies in Australia,’ Senator Alston said.


‘The number of arts organisations in Australia grew from 179 in 1971 to 894 in 1991, and includes dance, theatre, visual arts, literature, hybrid arts and music which are now recognised as not only distinctively Australian, but as some of the best in the world.


‘Over that time, as the arts community has grown and developed, the Australia Council has reacted and changed to meet the community’s requirements.


‘Initiatives in new media, emerging artists, contemporary music, major festivals, regional arts and, above all, audience development, have meant that the Australia Council’s role is just as vital to the arts in this country today as it was thirty years ago.’


Federal Government funding for the Australia Council has increased over the years from $58.2 million in 1988-89 to $71.9 million in 1998-99, in recognition of the Council’s role in developing Australia’s cultural life. An important part of the Council’s success has been the bipartisan political support for the Council’s role.


‘This Government recognises the important contribution that the Australia Council has made to the nation. As we prepare to enter the next millennium, we can be certain that the Australia Council will continue to be an indispensable part of the arts community’s growth,’ Senator Alston said.


Media Contact:  Terry O’Connor, Minister’s office 02 6277 7480

Lancia Jordana, Australia Council 02 9950 9015

Website:  www. richardalston. au



8 July 1998