Bankwest Art Prize 2014. Photographer: Christine ThomasArts Advocacy delivers results

23 March 2017

Collectively with organisations across the arts sector, Artsource has effectively advocated on behalf of Western Australia’s visual artists, sending the clear message to federal and state governments; undo the defunding of the Australia Council in 2015 and recognise the value of artists in their communities by delivering policy that invests in the talent of our artists.

The #ArtsImprovesLives campaign, led by the Chamber of Art and Culture WA, gave voice to the stories of local artists and expressed the importance of State Government having an Arts and Culture policy, and for that policy to include specific outcomes for the visual arts. We were pleased to see the Labor Party announce its Creative WA Policy at the Arts Debate, held prior to the election.  
With the Labor Party now forming government and the appointment of the new Arts Minister, the Hon. David Templeman, Leader of the House, we look forward to seeing these policy initiatives implemented, specifically:

  • Allocating $10 million towards the redevelopment of the Art Gallery of Western Australia rooftop as a regular cultural and commercial venue.
  • Leveraging our rich artistic and cultural life to promote tourism and jobs in WA.
  • Committing a further $2million per annum from Royalties for Regions to boost the reach of touring art exhibitions.

Our Chair and CEO presented evidence directly to the Senate Enquiry into arts funding and participated fully in the Federal #freethearts campaign, led by ArtsPeak (where Artsource is represented through both NAVA and the Chamber of Arts and Culture WA). The objective was to restore funding to the Australia Council in 2015, and we are delighted that this campaign has finally been successful. Over the weekend, the Federal Arts Minister, the Hon. Mitch Fifield, announced that most of the funds used to establish the National Program for Excellence in the Arts, later renamed Catalyst, will be returned to the Australia Council from 1 July 2017.
Sadly, much damage has been done in the intervening period, with small to medium arts organisations losing vital four-year organisational funding, including NAVA, and the destabilisation of part of our ecology.  Whilst there is no detail yet on how the Australia Council will allocate these funds, we remain hopeful that some will be directed to benefit individual artists as well as small to medium organisations.
Gavin Buckley, Artsource CEO, says “Advocacy is an ongoing and relentless task for Artsource. We often see change occur gradually as a result of our collective efforts on behalf of our members and the broader arts sector.  But this week we see the culmination of years of advocacy at both Federal and State levels to remind us that we cannot stop working constructively for positive change; to ensure the value of artists is recognised and that the concerns of artists are heard.”

Penny Bovell, Artsource Chair, says " The 2015 loss of funding to small to medium arts business, highlighted by the shift of funds to the Catalyst program, showed how fragile our arts ecosystem is. NAVA's S2M research paper emphasised the importance of independence within the Arts. Such research is a result of peak bodies like Artsource advocating on behalf of their members. Don’t underestimate how much effort goes into working behind the scenes to create the research, strategies and policies involved with advocacy, and input from our membership has been invaluable."

Arts Improves Lives
State Election Campaign 2017

9 February 2017


Artsource raises issues of collective importance to artists and works constructively to influence and achieve positive change. With the upcoming WA State Election in March 2017 Artsource will campaign to ensure that the value of artists is recognised and the concerns of artists are heard.

Artsource is an active member of the Chamber of Arts and Culture WA and we are in full support of the Arts Improves Lives campaign to make the arts a major issue in the state elections on 11 March 2017. Artsource supports the call for an immediate injection of $100 million into arts and culture in WA over four years.

State investment in the arts, including the visual arts, in WA has delivered benefits to communities and the economy in many ways over the years. A strong arts ecology has evolved and with it a growing sense of cultural identity for the state as well as wider recognition of the importance and richness of Aboriginal culture in WA. The vitality of local arts and culture draws positive attention to Western Australia and stimulates cultural tourism and commentary internationally.

Over time, arts investment in WA has come from a range of sources, including private and corporate philanthropy and local government initiatives, but the need for state arts investment is as pressing as ever. It demonstrates political will and leadership, it provides continuity through boom and bust and it can support opportunities in any Western Australian community, on the basis of merit.

Artsource has provided artists with critical serivices for the past 30 years and understands the value of:

  • Affordable studios offering artists at various stage of their careers, a range of high-quality and professionally-managed spaces from which to work.
  • A range of dedicated exhibition space to show and sell work in order to maintain a professional practice.
  • Access to visual arts markets nationally and internationally to promote Western Australian talent.
  • Residencies both locally and internationally to develop practice and networks.

Artsource calls on candidates in the 2017 State Election to recognise the value of artists in their communities and deliver policy that invests in the talent of our artists.

Artsource also endorses the call to support a new major Visual Arts event, “Continuum”, an Indigenous Art triennial identified in our 2014 Feasibility Study.

Other initiatives proposed which directly impact the Visual Arts in Western Australia include:

  • Commitment to mapping the requirements for regional arts and culture infrastructure, specifically for exhibitions, visual arts and collecting.
  • Developing a Digital Arts Roadmap to leverage innovation for WA.
  • Focus on outer metropolitan arts and culture facilities including exhibition spaces and opportunities.

Artsource can attest to the value that visual arts bring people, whether in the workplace, on country or as residents in WA. Stories about how visual art improvises lives can be found here:

  • Inspiring Creativity and Community is a story by Paola Anselmi about the value to businesses of collecting art; the positive impact on the work environment for staff, visitors and customers.
  • Colouring the Country by Clothilde Bullen discusses the importance of art as a means for empowering remote and rural Aboriginal communities and connecting them to the world.
  • Making Place of Space, by Laetitia Wilson talks about the positive impact of public art and the additional benefits of reflecting local culture through art.

Violet Samson, Bush seeds through Country 2012. Image courtesy of the artist

Contact your local candidate

The State election will be held on Saturday 11 March 2017 and it is vital that we all contribute to ensuring the arts is firmly on the agenda. We encourage our members and supporters of the arts to write to their local candidates and individually express how #ArtsImprovesLives. Here is how you can support the arts in the lead up to election day:

  • Write an email or letter of support for the arts to your local candidates. CLICK HERE for template letters from the Chamber of Arts and Culture. Include your own examples of how #ArtsImprovesLives (see below).
  • Get on social media and post about your support with #ArtsImprovesLives, #wapol and #WAelection. Follow and share your stories with @artsourcewa and the Chamber of Arts and Culture on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
  • Write to the Minister for Arts and Culture, Hon John Day MLA, at
  • Spread the word – ask your personal networks to join in and help too.
  • Vote for the candidates with the best arts policies on 11 March 2017.

For contact details of state election candidates in WA CLICK HERE and if you need to find your electorate CLICK HERE.

Although Artsource is writing individually to state election candidates across Western Australia, it’s important that candidates also hear directly from as many others as possible.


We believe:

  • Visual artists document our world in a unique way; they document our life and times, and are witness to our cultural identity.
  • Visual artists are active in placemaking and community engagement, bringing both local history and contemporary culture to everyday life through accessible temporary events and permanent public artworks.
  • Visual Artists work with people of varying abilities to develop and enhance their social inclusion and wellbeing.
  • Visual Artists provide important arts education in schools, encouraging imagination and developing and nurturing creativity and innovation skills.
  • Visual Artists contribute to the overall health and well-being of the wider community.

Other resources

Championing the arts as an election issue is multifaceted and you may like to support concurrent messages from these arts organisations, click to read more: