Senator George Brandis. Photo: Andrew Meares
Appointing new directors for two of the country's biggest cultural institutions is not something to be rushed, says the office of Federal Arts Minister George Brandis.
But the minister has confirmed that appointments to the helms of the National Museum of Australia and the National Portrait Gallery have been decided on, leaving the ministry's executive council to make an announcement in due course.
The National Portrait Gallery has been without a director since becoming a statutory authority in July, requiring the appointment of a new board, a move foreshadowed as far back as May last year.
Meanwhile, museum deputy director Mathew Trinca has been steering the ship since Andrew Sayers left his post three years into a five-year contract in July.
Mr Brandis denied that there had been any undue delays in the appointments, at least not since his appointment to the arts portfolio in September.
He was speaking after attending the 30th anniversary of the National Association for the Visual Arts, the peak body for visual arts and crafts in Australia.
The association used the occasion to unveil its own vision for the next three decades, which would see visual artists front and centre of the arts sector, with more funding and recognition than it received under the Gillard government's national cultural policy.
Executive director of NAVA Tamara Winikoff outlined 10 key objectives over the next 30 years, including a doubling of arts funding at all levels of government, equal to 0.17 per cent of GDP and shared across all art forms.
''I don't there can ever be too much support for any art form, but what we'd like to see is some kind of equitable treatment right across all art forms,'' she said.
''The visual arts is a really major area of practice in Australia and it does deserve to have an appropriate attention paid to it by government at all levels. In particular, what we were asking for in that cultural policy was a commitment of $3 million a year to assist under-resourced galleries to be able to pay fees to artists at the recommended industry rates, and at the moment, it's completely random. Some do, some don't.''
She called for a new Prime Minister's award for visual artists, better tax exemptions for artists and dedicated space in new buildings for accessible art studios.
And while Ms Winikoff admitted that many of the objectives were ''both aspirational and achievable'', some were more straightforward than others. ''To make something happen you have to know where you're going and how you think you're going to get there, and we do have a plan … a whole series of strategies for how we think that change can be made.''
Mr Brandis said NAVA's vision had his full support in terms of helping Australia ''become one of the great arts nations of the world''. ''We share a common aspiration with the arts in Australia, and it's an aspiration shared across the divide, it's an aspiration which is shared by all Australians, those who are lovers of the arts and those who are not,'' he said.
''We can do better than we already do. I want to affirm my government's very strong commitment to the sector.''