Future starts today at Australian arts event

Future starts today at Australian arts event

Esther Anatolitis says the way to think constructively about the future is to think -  and act -  differently, otherwise nothing will change.

The National Association for the Visual Arts executive director will be among hundreds of visual arts practitioners and industry professionals who are coming to Canberra for the two-day arts event Future/Forward.

Anatolitis says the event, on August 14 and 15 at the National Gallery of Australia and Parliament House, is intended to influence national policy by advocating for a government approach to the contemporary art sector "that's ambitious and fair".

<i>Black Opium 2</i> by Fiona Foley, one of the artists attending the event.

Black Opium 2 by Fiona Foley, one of the artists attending the event. Credit:State Library of Queensland, South Bank. Photo by Josef Ruckli. Image courtesy of State Library of Queensland.

By that, she means "creating a working environment where artists are energised and inspired to work creatively".


There will also be discussions of issues such as copyright and moral rights, and how to improve the code of practice for the visual arts. Anatolitis says in recent years the latter has been in decline and not respected by some in the arts sector.

Many in the arts sector are struggling, she says, with public and private galleries closing and artists' incomes declining: a recent study by the Australia Council found the total average annual income for an artist was $48,000 with only $18,000 of that coming from arts practice.

Art, she says, is important in creating culture for a nation into the future but children also benefit from it in other ways.

NAVA executive director Esther Anatolitis.

NAVA executive director Esther Anatolitis.Credit: Daniel Gardeazabal.

"Kids with art education do better across all studies and creating and seeing art is essential for their physical and mental well-being."

Anatolitis says, "Thanks to travel subsidies from state governments all over Australia there will be First Nations artists, artists from a range of cultural backgrounds and artists who are regionally based."

She says artsACT made it possible for 30 ACT artists to attend the event at no cost. There will be also representatives from artsACT and the two Canberra Contemporary Art Space venues.

The first day of the event in the National Gallery of Australia (which provided the venue free of charge) will be attended by 20 gallery staff and the gallery's new director, Nick Mitzevich.

Anatolitis says the first day's focus will be on what needs to change to support artists including in the code of practice.

"The second day at Parliament House will be about the politics of policy change and how do we achieve this."

As well as discussion there will also be a hypothetical and a game to stimulate thoughts and ideas.

After Future/Forward, Anatolitis says, "I hope artists will be enabled to lead the national cultural conversation."

For more information visit nava.net.au.

Ron Cerabona is an arts reporter for The Canberra Times.

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