Ausdance future under a cloud
The future of Ausdance National is in doubt following the axing of its funding by the Australia Council.
Ausdance has been receiving funding from the Australia Council for the past 20 years, including multi-year funding. So it came as a shock when to receive the news that its application had been declined in the recent round of funding decisions.
Ausdance has been Australia's main lobby and advocacy organisation for dance since 1977. Evolving out of the Australian Association for Dance Education, the organisation is now a network of state and territory branches with Ausdance National at its head. Each of the branches is individually incorporated, so are not affected financially by Ausdance National's position. However, it will be difficult for the network to coordinate its activities on a national level without a central body.
In addition, Ausdance National has its own distinct responsibilities. For example, it has just seen the realisation of a long project to have dance included as a key subject in the national curriculum. It administers the biennial National Dance Forum and the Peggy van Praagh and Keith Bain fellowships. And it organises and produces the Australian Dance Awards.
Ausdance National is almost entirely dependent on Australia Council funding, apart from membership revenue and some private sources. Its present Australia Council funding will expire at the end of 2016.
“We knew there would be some changes,” Ausdance National's CEO Rosalyn Dundas says. “The Australia Council was planning to refresh its structure. But it still came as a shock. We will be seeking further information on how the Australia Council now views a service organisation such as ours." She points out that Music Australia, the Australian Society of Authors and the National Association of Visual Arts all also had their funding cut. “All had long histories of being supported to promote and provide services to the broader art form.”
The 2016 Dance Awards are in full swing and will still go ahead as planned in Perth in September. But all other future projects are in limbo until financial sources are can be found.
“Next year is the 40th anniversary of Ausdance and the 20th anniversary of the Australian Dance Awards in their present form,” Dundas says. “We want to be able to celebrate those dates.”
She says the organisation will “consult with the dance sector to see how Ausdance can continue supporting Australian dance”. “We want to continue, but it might have to be in a different format.”
The 2016 Australian dance awards will take place at the State Theatre Centre of Western Australia on Sunday 18 September. The short list of 2016 nominees will be announced mid-July. For more details visit www.australiandanceawards.net.au.
- KAREN VAN ULZEN