Inspiring a brave new arts world

Miranda Tay

The upcoming ArtsHub Conference will bring together a thinktank of industry leaders to generate bold visions and innovative ways forward in the sector.
Inspiring a brave new arts world

Shedding light on the future of the arts industry. Image of the Sydney Opera House: Luke Zeme /

The evolving arts scene in Australia presents constant challenges to practitioners in all fields, from visual to performing to design. And increasingly bold new visions are being called for as artists seek to produce innovative work to reach ever more diverse and broadening audiences.

Arts industry leaders from all fields will converge at the Darebin Arts & Entertainment Centre on 31 October in the ArtsHub Conference 2014, a thinkfest on current and future trends in the industry.


The aim is to inform, inspire and innovate a sustained dialogue between industry leaders, arts organisations, individual artists and audiences on the key issues driving the growth and emerging artistic practice in the sector, and identify new opportunities for practitioners.

Five keynote presenters will bring their considerable expertise and experience to discussion of topics such as new models for grants and funding, opportunities in the arts as a viable career, and the important role of philanthropic endeavours.

Arts Council Chief Executive Tony Grybowski will present Arts Funding: a Model for the Times. In August this year, the Council launched its five-year Strategic Plan and new grants model, aimed at assisting innovative and more daring work by artists, and seeking new and expanded audiences within Australia and abroad.

Much of the reformed legislation is aimed at reducing red tape and modernising its governance structure.


Tony Grybowski. Image:

‘With five grant programs, streamlined criteria, and opportunities to apply for multiple stages of a project in one application, we have made it simpler and easier to apply for funding. We want to encourage ambitious projects and see more audiences captivated by work that inspires and challenges,’ said Grybowski.

The $60 million funding package includes arts project grants for individuals and organisations, development grants, fellowships and six-year funding for arts organisations.

Anna Draffin, Deputy CEO, Philanthropy Australia, will discuss how to Make philanthropy work for you.

Draffin will examine the changing face of philanthropy and how to leverage it in the modern context and as it evolves into the future, as new generations of philanthropists emerge.


Anna Draffin. Image: Philanthropy Australia

She will concentrate on the three major areas of building relationships with living philanthropists, how to build that relationship, and responding to increasing calls by funders, especially corporations, for an evidence base of what they are funding.

‘It’s a few steps to get people to understand the scale of the industry now,’ she said

In The Future is NOW. Opportunities Abound, Artbank Director Tony Stephens will explore emerging opportunities in an increasingly commercial sector, and the need to respond quickly and innovatively to them.

Set up by the federal government in 1980 to support and promote the work of contemporary Australian art, Artbank has a collection of about 10,000 works that is leased out for $1000 annual rental.


Tony Stephens. Image:

Stephens, who joined Artbank in 2012, has worked hard to transform it from a corporate leasing entity to make art more accessible to a wider audience. He explained his vision to Yellow Trace in an interview.

‘There is no one way you have to go about getting noticed – everyone is different,’ he said. ‘I would however recommend getting out there and meeting people in the art world. You don’t need to carry a portfolio under your arm for this to be effective. Just relax and be open to sharing the parts of yourself which feed into your practice. With a bit of patience, a little luck and a bucket full of self-belief you will be fine.

‘Commerce plays a much bigger role in contemporary art than when I started. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – there has always been a transactional relationship inherent in artists’ lives. But I think there other pressures coming to bear that are skewing certain elements of the creative process.’

Jane Scott, CEO and Artistic Director of Craft, will present Future Trends, Can I really have an arts career? In an article for ArtsHub last year, Scott examined the increasingly sophisticated nature of craft as a lucrative business, and how ‘this most democratic of all the material and forms’ is now integrated into design and contemporary technology.

For the October ArtsHub presentation, ‘I’m hoping to talk about the future trends,’ she said. ‘What does a career in the arts look like? It’s about being realistic, keeping inspired and making a buck.’


Jane Scott. Image:

Scott’s presentation will take a realistic approach towards a financial future in the arts today. ‘Reflecting a bit on what it used to be and looking at what’s currently happening, and what’s in the future.’

The biggest challenge to a career in the arts today – which is ‘paying the rent’ – requires ‘a level of compromise’, she said.

Steph Walker, who will present From the artist’s mouth: a real-life success story, said the title of her presentation is ‘a little misleading’.

‘While there is an art to putting together a Festival, I wouldn’t consider myself an artist. I’m currently the Executive Director at Performance Space, a role I came to after a career-defining and life-changing experience in Christchurch with the Christchurch Arts Festival during and after the devastating earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. The city was highly damaged – and not just the buildings, but the hearts of the citizens, too.’