Regional Arts Development Central West NSW

Federal Election: Candidate Responses

ask the candidates 2022

UPDATED. The federal election is 21 May 2022. The Regional Arts NSW Network each quizzed our local candidates on arts policy and their support of key programs. Here’s responses received so far from candidates in Calare and Riverina.

Our questions focused on national cultural policy, the Regional Arts Fund (specially the need to secure and increase this important national arts funding program);  expanding the IVAIS (Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support) program to adequately service NSW; and government support for arts leaders who are helping their communities through difficult times. (See the list of questions below).

So that we didn’t double up, the Regional Arts Development Organisations divided the state up and the RADO with the most overlap with an electorate took charge of approaching those candidates for responses. Arts OutWest contacted candidates in Calare.

Our collagues at Eastern Riverina Arts quizzed candidates in the Riverina electorate (useful for those in Cowra, Weddin, Parkes and Forbes shires). See the responses here.

Our region of course also covers part of Parkes electorates (including Lachlan Shire). One of our neighbouring RADOs has contacted these candidates and we’ll update this post with links to their responses when available. 

The Calare electorate covers an area from Lithgow in the east to Eugowra in the west, the old Wellington LGA and Mid-Western Regional Councils in the north to Blayney Shire Council and Oberon Council in the south. The main cities and towns include Bathurst, Blayney, Canowindra, Eugowra, Gulgong, Kandos, Lithgow, Molong, Oberon, Orange, Mudgee, Portland, Rylstone, Wallerawang and Yeoval.

Monday 16 May 2022: New responses received. 

Calare electorate Candidates 2022 (in ballot order):

The questions:

1 . Since 1996, Australia has only had an arts and cultural policy for a few months in the dying days of the Labour Government in 2013. The recent parliamentary enquiry into the arts sector and Covid gave the recommendation that the Australian Government develop a cultural policy.

  • a. Would you/your party support the development of a new cultural policy for Australia?
  • b. If so, should regional priorities be part of such a policy?

2. The Federal Government currently funds the Regional Arts Fund (RAF) which assists regional communities (around $3.6 million a year across regional Australia).
Which of the following would you support (and why?):

  • a. Maintaining the RAF at the same rate
  • b. Increasing the RAF rate to each state
  • c. Decreasing RAF funding
  • d. Getting rid of RAF completely
  • e. Replacing RAF with a different funding program (if so, please comment)

3. NSW has the largest Aboriginal population in Australia (even though the percentage of the population is not as high as in some places). Of the 98 State-based organisations receiving IVAIS (Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support) funding from the Australian Government, only four are in New South Wales. In what ways would you support the improvement of Federal Government funding to First Nations programs in New South Wales?

4. Regional Arts Australia has developed a campaign that states:

  • Art Celebrates
  • Art is Everywhere
  • Art is Essential

Please comment on how you think this relates to the electorate you are standing in.

5. Regional communities have experienced many challenges: drought, bushfires, mouse plague, floods, even tornados, in addition to Covid. Our arts leaders are frequently called on to show leadership around both recovery and resilience. What do you think government should do to support arts leaders who are helping their communities through difficult times?

The responses

(in ballot paper order)

Kate Hook (independent)

1 . Since 1996, Australia has only had an arts and cultural policy for a few months in the dying days of the Labour Government in 2013. The recent parliamentary enquiry into the arts sector and Covid gave the recommendation that the Australian Government develop a cultural policy.

  • Would you/your party support the development of a new cultural policy for Australia?

 Yes, I would support the development of a new, updated, revised and stimulating national cultural policy. Any new policy needs to be developed consultatively with community, so it is relevant to and reflective of our region, crafted by experts of the arts and cultural sector. It should be aspirational, dynamic and pioneering. Arts and culture are in perpetual movement, developing and changing all the time. Any new policy needs to reflect this and encourage this creativity to continue while collaborating with other sectors and cross-artforms, new technologies and art forms.

I know that people across the electorate also want to see support of the Australian Council for the Arts, ABC and SBS as important cultural contributors.

  • If so, should regional priorities be part of such a policy?

 Although there are commonalities between metropolitan and regional Australia, blanket policies do not meet the nuanced differences between the two. Therefore, it is essential that regional priorities be identified with practical support and resourcing to realise those priorities. The policy needs to be reflective of the diversity of Australia, its people with particular emphasis on First Nations people, geography and regions, environments and nature, history and imagined future, and celebrate those differences. 

  1. The Federal Government currently funds the Regional Arts Fund (RAF) which assists regional communities (around $3.6 million a year across regional Australia).
    Which of the following would you support (and why?):
  • Maintaining the RAF at the same rate
  • Increasing the RAF rate to each state

From my discussions to date with artists and arts workers across the electorate, currently there is an imbalance with the amount of funding provided to regional Australia with less than half of all applications funded. With the increase of new settlers to regional Australia due to COVID, the increased cost of housing and living, the number of artists, arts and cultural workers is also increasing. Therefore, it is only logical that funding is rebalanced and increased to ensure the regions are thriving communities for creative industries. Arts and culture are an essential ingredient in liveability and attractiveness to communities. It is essential residents of regional Australia are not forced into either travelling to city centres or simply missing out when accessing arts and culture.

  • Decreasing RAF funding
  • Getting rid of RAF completely
  • Replacing RAF with a different funding program (if so, please comment)
  1. NSW has the largest Aboriginal population in Australia (even though the percentage of the population is not as high as in some places). Of the 98 State-based organisations receiving IVAIS (Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support) funding from the Australian Government, only four are in New South Wales. In what ways would you support the improvement of Federal Government funding to First Nations programs in New South Wales?

I would campaign for a review of current funding levels and demand for that funding, consult with community and experts to find the real needs to the sector and ways to meet those needs. I would also look at opportunity for growth with increased funding and the impacts on First Nations people, artists and communities by supporting their dreams, aspirations and self-determined future directions.

It’s important that there is support through the arts for the community to join with First Nations people in sharing and understanding stories, truth-telling about history and building capacity.

  1. Regional Arts Australia has developed a campaign that states:
  • Art Celebrates
  • Art is Everywhere
  • Art is Essential

Please comment on how you think this relates to the electorate you are standing in.

There is a thriving arts community across the Central West and the electorate of Calare with artists of all kinds located in many communities large and small. There are regular festivals, live performances, exhibitions, eisteddfods and artist talks held in museums or all sorts, repurposed spaces, parks, galleries, theatres, showgrounds, pubs and halls right across the electorate. There are opportunities for the community to engage in arts and culture every week both as audiences and as participants. Many people belong to art societies, choirs, amateur theatre groups, bands and orchestras, photography clubs, poetry groups, craft circles and much more. Arts and culture is part of everyday life. However, there is always more that can be done to ensure more of the general public connect with the artists living and working in their communities, enriching their lives and participating in arts and culture.

I would like to work with stakeholders and organisations like Arts OutWest to develop strategies to increase participation in arts and culture as well as increased access for people who may be restricted by limited mobility, geographical location, access to transport, to make sure they have the opportunities that others in the electorate do as well.

I would also support increased funding and strengthening of structures which support local arts education (bring back more TAFE courses for example); professional development for emerging artists and arts workers (including legal and financial aspects); and support for volunteers in cultural and creative industries.

The appreciation of the Arts being everywhere and essential within the Calare electorate is reflected in:

  • the diverse variety of festivals (Inland Sea of Sound, Writers and Readers Festival, Banjo Paterson festivals, Orange Winter Jazz), events (Orange FOOD, Mudgee, Cementa, Big Skies Collaboration, Bathurst Winter Festival
  • regular visiting touring performances,
  • heritage (eg Bathurst Heritage Trades Trail, walking tours, Autumn Festival, Carcoar, Millthorpe, …)
  • museums, galleries and theatres
  • recording studios, eisteddfods, conservatoria
  • the significant local small-town arts hubs of Hill End, Kandos and Stuart Town.

We see evidence that cultural industries play a major role in revitalising both small and large communities, while the location provides artists with a suitable lifestyle.

  1. Regional communities have experienced many challenges: drought, bushfires, mouse plague, floods, even tornados, in addition to Covid. Our arts leaders are frequently called on to show leadership around both recovery and resilience. What do you think government should do to support arts leaders who are helping their communities through difficult times?

Artists and the arts sector are often the first ones to be called upon to reconnect community after a crisis or to help raise funds for a cause such as bushfire or drought relief concert. The expectation is most often that artists will donate their time which historically they do without question. However, being an artist or arts worker is their livelihood and paid employment, often irregular or gig to gig, is how they make their income. If we want to ensure artists can thrive and maintain a standard of living, we must find ways of supporting communities without artists being deprived of their income. Other industries are asked in the same way or with the same expectation. In the case of a relief concert, perhaps government can provide the funding to ensure artists and arts workers are paid. If arts leaders knew this was possible it would mean the staging of such events could be easier and take away the guilt often felt having to ask artists to give up their livelihoods.

I believe we should bring arts leaders together to discuss the various scenarios that they have faced in the past to plan for the future, to identify what they will need and how government can support them when they are called upon to show leadership in times of recovery and resilience. This may include professional training and development, networking and support, or creating a funding pool that can be drawn on at short notice when a crisis has occurred. However, without proper consultation with the experts, it is ineffective for governments to guess what is needed.

stacey whittaker (One nation)

One Nation currently does not have any policies in place regarding the Arts, although I know Pauline is a strong supporter of the Arts industry, which has certainly faced many challenges, like a lot of industries in the past couple of years thanks to Covid.

If successful in being elected into the electorate I would love to discuss more on what can be done on a Federal level to assist rebuild and supporting the Arts Industry, with a special focus on Aboriginal and other regional artists.

kay nankervis (greens)

1. Since 1996, Australia has only had an arts and cultural policy for a few months in the dying days of the Labour Government in 2013. The recent parliamentary enquiry into the arts sector and Covid gave the recommendation that the Australian Government develop a cultural policy.  a. would you/your party support the development of a new cultural policy for Australia?

Yes. The 3rd aim of 21 aims listed in the Australian Greens’ Arts, Culture and Heritage policy (at https://greens.org.au/policies/arts-and-culture) is for a national cultural policy. Viewed in the context of all the Greens arts policies and aims nationally in this document, it is clear that we recognise updating is required to reflect the changing arts landscape. new ways of thinking globally, to reflect our strong commitment to arts and culture and to reflect the changing diversity of Australia’s communities.

Arts and Culture | Australian Greens

Principles. The Australian Greens believe that: 1. Artistic and cultural expression and engagement are fundamental aspects of social wellbeing.  greens.org.au

b. If so, should regional priorities be part of such a policy?

It is essential that regional priorities be prioritised in this policy. This is necessary to embrace the particular and key role that artistic endeavour plays in regional and rural life and to meet the diverse and specific needs of the broad range of communities in the regions.  That is why our Aim 3 on the need for a national cultural policy encourages development of local art s policies and programs: 

3. A national cultural policy that supports and encourages the development of local arts policies and programs and promotes access to arts and cultural experiences.

At the same time, aims 4, 5 & 6 note the need to increase arts and cultural experiences in regions, the need for all tiers of government to cross-coordinate their delivery and we at the Greens call for greater recognition of local government in delivering arts policies and programs: 

4. A greater recognition of the role of local government in the development and coordination of local arts and cultural policies and programs.

5. Better coordination between Federal, State and Local Government in the planning and implementation of arts programs.

6. Increased access to arts and cultural experiences in rural and regional areas and in areas of social and economic disadvantage.

As a regional artist myself whose practice has emerged and grown with the support of Arts Outwest’s work and Bathurst BMEC’s Local Stages program I appreciate the effectiveness and importance of local programs for artists and audiences. 

2. The Federal Government currently funds the Regional Arts Fund (RAF) which assists regional communities (around $3.6 million a year across regional Australia).
Which of the following would you support (and why?): Maintaining the RAF at the same rate / Increasing the RAF rate to each state / Decreasing RAF funding / Getting rid of RAF completely /Replacing RAF with a different funding program (if so, please comment)

The RAF must be increased to each state, to maintain each state RAF’s reach and to expand those projects and organisations which are supported (given so many strong projects have to be turned away due to the size of RAF funding available now). That said, as a federal MP I would welcome advice from Calare’s artistic and cultural communities regarding the structure and scope of RAF funding or an alternative structure altogether. 

My first port of call for advice on this would be to ArtsOutwest and Regional Arts NSW. In a related development I am concerned by Create NSW’s changes to RADO and RANSW funding over the past two years and commit to investigating and consulting on how appropriate these changes are proving, notwithstanding that these funding models operate at State not Federal level. By taking an interest in arts funding structures at all levels of government I would be fulfilling the Greens Arts aim No 5 listed in my answer to the previous question.

3. NSW has the largest Aboriginal population in Australia (even though the percentage of the population is not as high as in some places). Of the 98 State-based organisations receiving IVAIS (Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support) funding from the Australian Government, only four are in New South Wales. In what ways would you support the improvement of Federal Government funding to First Nations programs in New South Wales?

Supporting the preservation and continuation of First Nations culture-making is a complex, decolonising national and local project not easily summed up in the context of this survey. Nevertheless, the Australian Greens recognise that this aim requires approaches covering legislation, policy and funding prioritisation. This is reflected in two of our policy points: 

8. First Nations artists and their work represent cultures and heritage which are unique to Australia and must be supported, respected and appropriately protected through legislation, policy and funding priorities.

9.First Nations cultural heritage including language, knowledge, rituals and stories must be recognised and preserved.

And aim 7 & 15:

7. The support and promotion of arts and culture to reflect the cultural, social and linguistic diversity of the Australian population.

15. Australia to sign and ratify the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage 2003.

I am in the final weeks of a PhD on First Nations theatre-making and the challenges faced by First Nations communities attempting to tell old and new stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experience in the context of a continuing colonised Australia. That said, if the Greens have the balance of power in the lower house we will prioritise First Nations arts as being at the forefront of Australian stories; all my work to push for a new arts and cultural policy will include my personal First Nations First approach to developing it. 

In consultation with First Nations arts, cultural and regional communities we will push for funding priorities in the Australia Council (and through other avenues that channel moneys to state bodies) in volumes which recognise the size of First Nations populations in particular regional areas. At the same time, just because the numbers of a First Nations language or cultural group may appear small this should not preclude funding for local First Nations community projects of significance for First Nations cultural survival and well-being. So, population numbers of FN communities need to be catered for but should not be the only guiding principle in determining how much and which First Nations communities have Federal and other funding support for cultural works. At all times appropriate First Nations leaders, advisors and cultural consultants – fully funded – should be engaged to enable informed decisions and allocations to be made around these issues. 

4. Regional Arts Australia has developed a campaign that states:  Art Celebrates.  Art is Everywhere.  Art is Essential. Please comment on how you think this relates to the electorate you are standing in.

I am fortunate to live in a vibrant community supported by strong arts institutions and a local council which provides reasonable certainty around their allocation of funds to them. So, we have ArtsOutwest with its head office based in Bathurst (and a history of our RADO punching above its weight in terms of programs it delivers across arts genres and the new work and emergence of new artists it facilitates). Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre, Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, Lithgow’s Gang Gang Gallery, Cowra Art Gallery, Cowra Civic Centre, Orange Civic Centre, Orange Regional Conservatorium, Orange Art Gallery, Mitchell Conservatorium, Mudgee’s many galleries and the museum and historical societies across the Calare electorate are just some of the institutions and groups which have maintained strong programs: programs which introduce Calare residents to work of excellence and which nurture local artists at various points in their practice development.

For me, the arts do not just celebrate they also question, critique and enable big conversations to take place in culturally safe ways. Arts is everywhere, yes, and yet not visible enough: so, in need of support and re-emergence post Covid. Arts is essential for identity, our humanity, our well-being and for understanding each other in all our diversity. More work is needed in Calare to ensure that those who work in these areas are properly funded to do so and can earn a living exploring and sharing their practice in our region.

5. Regional communities have experienced many challenges: drought, bushfires, mouse plague, floods, even tornados, in addition to Covid. Our arts leaders are frequently called on to show leadership around both recovery and resilience. What do you think government should do to support arts leaders who are helping their communities through difficult times?

Government should ensure that no arts program leader role is cut or reduced. I am greatly concerned that some of the CEO roles for key arts organisations at state and federal level have in the last few years been reduced to part-time, poorly paid roles. This is an insult to the highly skilled and experienced people able and willing to take on these challenging, highly specialised positions. Start at the top to ensure arts workers are properly paid. As a member of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance since 1983 I would make it a personal priority to investigate what that Union and other professional arts bodies propose can be done to campaign for these sorts of reductions to cease and for arts leadership to be properly remunerated.  This includes ensuring that remuneration packages (or work KPIs) include funded opportunities for professional development and networking with other arts leaders.

– Kay Nankervis

Sarah Elliott (Labor)

Thankyou for your questions. The arts are incredibly valuable for our various communities and cultures. I attended CSU’s Visual Arts School in Wagga Wagga before transferring to the UNSW’s College of Fine Arts in Paddington to complete a Bachelor of Fine Arts (major in painting and drawing). The arts have been unappreciated and very undervalued as an industry in Australia and suffered considerably during the Covid 19 pandemic.

1. Since 1996, Australia has only had an arts and cultural policy for a few months in the dying days of the Labour Government in 2013. The recent parliamentary enquiry into the arts sector and Covid gave the recommendation that the Australian Government develop a cultural policy.  a. would you/your party support the development of a new cultural policy for Australia?

a. Yes. Labor has a policy in promoting and protecting the arts including removing barriers faced by the music industry, strengthening support to protect and promote First Nations art and culture and support for legal frameworks to protect all artists. If I were to be elected, I would actively promote the arts sector of the regional communities of the Calare electorate and would advocate for further policy development that will increase funding and promotion and appreciation of out arts communities.

b: Regional priorities should be a part of these policies. The arts industry is essential to the experience of our regions, including the contributions that the arts make to our economy, including being a drawcard for regional tourism as well as providing cultural experiences for those who reside in our regions.

2. The Federal Government currently funds the Regional Arts Fund (RAF) which assists regional communities (around $3.6 million a year across regional Australia).
Which of the following would you support (and why?): Maintaining the RAF at the same rate / Increasing the RAF rate to each state / Decreasing RAF funding / Getting rid of RAF completely /Replacing RAF with a different funding program (if so, please comment)

B. I would favour an increase in the RAF rate, however, I would be interested to hear what suggestions there may be from the arts community to what preferences that have. Whether to increase the rate or create a new funding program if the RAF is not considered to be delivering fair and adequate funding.

3. NSW has the largest Aboriginal population in Australia (even though the percentage of the population is not as high as in some places). Of the 98 State-based organisations receiving IVAIS (Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support) funding from the Australian Government, only four are in New South Wales. In what ways would you support the improvement of Federal Government funding to First Nations programs in New South Wales?

Consultation is important when looking to improve funding, particularly with indigenous communities. I would seek to consult with our local Indigenous arts communities to find out what their needs are and what they view as a requirement for their cultural and art programs and how I may be best to assist with representation. I strongly believe however, that we need Indigenous Voice in parliament so that our Indigenous communites have direct say in policies and programs relating to the arts.

4. Regional Arts Australia has developed a campaign that states:  Art Celebrates.  Art is Everywhere.  Art is Essential. Please comment on how you think this relates to the electorate you are standing in.

Art Celebrates: Art celebrates many things. It celebrates who we are, what we have been and how we are changing as a nation and within our communites. Art celebrates not just the big events of our lives, but also celebrates the smaller things that many people overlook. By celebrating, art also teaches us through the experience of the artists. Art in Calare helps us to celebrate living within the region and the unique experiences that each region within the electorate has to offer.

Art is Everywhere: Art is a constant part of our everyday lives. We see it in our homes from pictures on our walls, we see it in our streets in sculptures and murals and photographs and we hear it in our music. We watch it on our televisions, theatres and even our digital devices from computers to our phones. Art moves us, makes us think, makes us feel and makes us contemplate. Within Calare, we see art everywhere from architecture, paintings, photographs, sculptures and signs.

Art is Essential: Art is essential as it helps us to learn and to observe. It helps us to appreciate a perspective of life within our region that we have not considered. It documents moments of time in pictures and tells us stories in enactments and music. Art is essential to our electorate in providing a visual and recreational experience for everyone. Art can be essential for health, particularly mental health in providing a visual or audio escape for the viewer while providing an outlet of creative escape and endeavour for the artist.

5. Regional communities have experienced many challenges: drought, bushfires, mouse plague, floods, even tornados, in addition to Covid. Our arts leaders are frequently called on to show leadership around both recovery and resilience. What do you think government should do to support arts leaders who are helping their communities through difficult times?

The leaders of our arts communities certainly need support in assisting the recovery and resiliance of our communities. Support comes in many forms including consultations and provision of resources and funding. Without resources and funding, arts leaders cannot provide the service, especially given that the arts were devalued during the Covid 19 pandemic. I do believe that consultation is essential as the people who know best of what is needed are the leaders and artists within the community. Governments should consult with our arts leaders in order to provide the resources and funding that is required to achieve the best possible outcomes for each project.

Warm Regards,

Sarah Elliott – Labor candidate for Calare.

Andrew gee (nationals)

Still to come.

Adam jannis (united australia)

Still to come.