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A message from our CEO, Fiona Menzies

Creative Partnerships Australia has had another impactful year, amidst unforeseen international events that have highlighted the organisation’s ability to adapt and support the Australian arts and cultural sector through our expertise, programs and resources.

In 2019, we were pleased to release our first sector-wide survey of private sector support for the arts and culture, Giving Attitude, and present the findings as a keynote presentation at the Culture Business conference in Sydney. The report provides insights into the key experiences and challenges Australian arts and cultural organisations are facing and outlines both actual results and their perception of their ability to fundraise. The second edition of this report is due to be released in late 2020, and over time it will enable us to track giving trends quantitively, as well as sentiment relating to private sector support for the arts.

The Australian Cultural Fund continued to prosper with the support of many generous donors. Through partnering, a total of $4.65 million was donated to artists and arts organisations through the platform in 2019/20. We supported independent artists and arts organisations through ACF Boost, a program that provided over $100,000 in matched funding support for their fundraising efforts. The majority of this support went to projects in bushfire or drought affected regions, with 95% of ACF Boost projects reaching their fundraising targets.

Our matched funding programs saw similar success with many Plus1 and MATCH Lab campaigns reaching or exceeding their fundraising targets. The popularity of these programs remains high each year, recognising that matched funding is a compelling incentive for donors and businesses to support artists and arts organisations.

As part of our focus on providing expertise, we continued to work with international and Australian experts in sponsorship, philanthropy and fundraising to deliver workshops, webinars and masterclasses that provided artists and arts organisations with increased knowledge, skills and confidence in seeking private sector support. The popularity of our 2020 national masterclass series with renowned UK fundraiser, Patricia Castanha, reaffirmed our place as experts in arts fundraising and the importance of private sector support in building a sustainable arts and cultural sector.

In 2019, Creative Partnerships Australia supported 11 Australian arts and cultural organisations through the LIFT Arts Fundraising Mentoring Program, offering a unique opportunity for fundraising managers and executives who play key roles in fundraising, to work with an experienced arts fundraiser. In addition, our LIFT Management Mentoring Program was undertaken in South Australia, providing seven arts and cultural organisations with one-on-one mentorships with a skilled arts manager to assist in strengthening organisational operations and strategic planning. These two mentorship opportunities were crucial in enhancing sector development and providing additional support to small and medium organisations through a rapidly changing environment.

In response to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Creative Partnerships Australia was pleased to partner with Theatre Network Australia and the National Association for the Visual Arts to provide critical support to artists directly affected by loss of income. Through this initiative, over $190,000 in matched funding was provided by Creative Partnerships Australia to match donations from the private sector. We also partnered with the Sidney Myer Fund and Philanthropy Australia’s Arts Funders Network to support the distribution of over $1.5 million for the National Assistance Program for the Arts, which provided grants of $1,000 to more than 1,500 artists experiencing hardship due to the impact of COVID-19.

As part of our digital strategy, we developed our popular Fundamentals of Arts Fundraising workshops into a suite of online resources to provide broader access to those in regional and remote communities. We also delivered pilot webinars to enable arts fundraisers to continue with our programs while social distancing restrictions were in place.

To build capacity, our State Managers’ coaching and advisory services continued to be a valuable resource to arts organisations, supporting them to build robust and sustainable relationships. These one-on-one, tailored sessions were offered in a digital format this year while pandemic restrictions were in place. We delivered more than 580 coaching sessions to 423 artists and arts organisations throughout the year.

I would like to acknowledge the Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon. Paul Fletcher MP, who has provided great support and leadership for our goal of creating a sustainable arts sector and support to me, personally, in my role as CEO. My thanks also go to the staff of the Office for the Arts for their assistance throughout the year and their commitment to growing private sector support for the arts and cultural sector.

Leading Creative Partnerships Australia gives me the opportunity to work with and support the talented and inventive Australian arts and cultural sector. I am ably assisted in this endeavour by a dedicated and capable staff, who have worked tirelessly throughout the year and responded without hesitation to the various challenges we have faced. I would also like to thank the members of Creative Partnerships Australia’s Board, who have provided valuable support and guidance to us this year, as always.

Finally, I would like to express my admiration for Australian artists and arts workers who have yet again demonstrated their central place in the Australian community. Not only have they presented work that has inspired, challenged and entertained, but they have stepped up to support the broader community during the crises that emerged. Through events such as the bushfires that devasted large parts of Australia in the summer, they have shown their agility and resilience. When COVID-19 pandemic restrictions were put in place, which directly and immediately changed the way the community could engage with arts and culture, this resilience persisted.

I look forward to working with the arts and cultural sector in the coming year as the community emerges from the pandemic, as arts and culture will play a central role in the recovery and rebuilding of the Australian community.

Fiona Menzies