Festivals, First Nations artists and fun after-dark events lead Canberra’s arts policy progress

Now into Year 2 of ACT Government’s arts strategy, Canberra: Australia’s Arts Capital – Arts, Culture and Creative Policy 2022-26 is making progress and supporting the sector’s desire to grow, become more resilient and support artists to have more sustainable careers.

There has been significant progress against the action plan’s 82 actions, which includes ongoing initiatives and targeted projects involving the arts portfolio, portfolios across the ACT Government and other strategic partners.

“Our ambition is for Canberra to be Australia’s arts capital and during the first 12 months we have seen some amazing collaborative projects and innovative activities taking place across our city to help make this ambition a reality,” said Minister for the Arts Cheyne.

“The policy and action plan are all about showing the world exactly what we have here in Canberra, what makes our city so special, and that what we have is unmissable.”

During 2023, the arts sector continues its recovery from the wide-ranging impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Audience trends showed the recovery of audience numbers and continuation of last minute ticket sales, while spending on events is yet to return to pre-pandemic levels (fact check please).

“Against this backdrop, the arts sector has shown its flexibility, determination, and strength to provide Canberrans with new theatre performances, art exhibitions, festivals, dance performances, music, books, and film.

“The year saw work by Canberra’s diverse population reflected in First Nations’ cultural arts projects, and works by LGBTIQ+ and culturally and linguistically diverse artists,” said Minister Cheyne.

Some of the highlights of the past 12 months include:

  • the delivery of the inaugural Cultural Arts Program, which aims to increase the development of self-determined community-led projects and enhanced arts and cultural outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, with 11 arts activities supported across a range of artforms and cultural practices with funding totalling $127,565
  • Winter Innovation Festival Uncharted Territory took place for the first time in July 2023, showcasing Canberra’s unique intersection between creativity and innovation, featuring Canberra artists and performers alongside entrepreneurs, researchers and scientists in its inaugural program
  • the Better Regulation Taskforce developed a draft vision and underpinning principles for Canberra’s night-time economy. This vision aims to support businesses including the arts, cultural and creative sectors to contribute to lively and diverse night-time activity

Minister Cheyne said as well as new arts activities taking place around the city, collaboration was helping to drive creativity across many aspects of Canberra life – across artforms, sectors, and in government.

“I’m really pleased to see so much collaboration across the city when it comes to arts activities. I recently announced the ACT Government’s world-first commission of symphonic arrangements for iconic rock band Hoodoo Gurus, who will headline Symphony in the Park 2024 with our very own Canberra Symphony Orchestra.

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