So incensed are the delegates that attended the Creative Australia strand of the 2020 summit, they are now forming an advocacy group from within to keep a check on the Federal Government.

What’s angered the delegates to this point? The censorship of ideas within the Initial Summit Report, which have been replaced by other ideas that were never discussed.

“We got hints this was going to happen when the statement which came out bore no relation to what came from us,” one delegate tells Crikey, “It is clear that it came from a pre-existing agenda.”

Many of the delegates are still holding their tongues until the final report, which is due out in a few weeks. But that hasn’t stopped the delegates exchanging contact details and setting cyberspace alight with emails, proposals and furious debate about what to do if their real recommendations continue to be ignored.

Some of the ideas put forward by the delegates that have so far been gone missing include:

  • The formation of an organisation to work with planners, developers and architects to ensure that good design is a core requirement for every building and public space
  • To help develop a design-literate nation by including aesthetics/design as part of the school curriculum and by forming closer links between industry professionals and schools
  • To promote creative organisations overseas as soft diplomacy and to assist in advocating with exports like education and business
  • Remove barriers and bureaucratic red tape to make funding models and reporting requirements easier
  • Increased support for new digital media technologies
  • Mandate 80% quota for Australian content by broadcasters in digital delivery with a five-fold increase in support of public broadcasting as a brand for quality with distinctive Australian content
  • Develop a whole of industry national screen strategy with government taking culture out of the US Free Trade Agreement

What has amazed the delegates is that the initial report somehow changed ideas like develop “closer links between industry professionals and schools” into “Creativity Summer Schools”.

“No-one ever mentioned summer schools,” Crikey has been told by another delegate. “And the first time I heard about the Indigenous proposals was when the report was released on the Sunday.”

This is not to mention the contentious idea (also published in the initial report) which proposed that creative endeavours be funded “through a 1% creative dividend from all Government Departments for expenditure”.

“Everyone in that room knew that Queensland had tried that idea and that it had failed. I don’t know how that got put forward either,” the delegate explained.

“I went to the summit with an open mind,” another stated. “But every now and again Peter Garrett would come up to each of the groups saying he didn’t need to listen to us because he had total faith in us. My scepticism rose each time he said it.”

Another delegate added that, “I don’t believe that he [Garrett] is bearing ill will and I do think he genuinely wants to listen. But this is compromised by political ambition and his essential powerlessness within the ALP. I wish we had a smarter arts minister.”

If 2020 was just a publicity exercise as some commentators have suggested, then the Federal Government may get a lot more than it bargained for.

“The summit has created a motivated group of diverse people who realised that we all have a lot in common,” another attendee has told Crikey. “Everyone realised that other people outside the stream were saying they needed the arts.”

If the make-up of the advocacy group is anything like the chosen delegates then there should be concern within the arts community at the real lack of practising artists. Almost all of the attendees were from funded institutions and the corporate sector, with gaping holes around music and new media.

Either way, 2020 provided a rare opportunity for the often fragmented Australian arts community to unite and share ideas. Let’s just hope that Garrett’s short-staffed and over-worked arts advisers are on their toes because after eleven years of suffocation, the industry is more than determined to get some real results through Government policy.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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