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High-Powered arts lobby for WA

High-Powered arts lobby for WA
September 14, 2010

Sam Walsh, Chief Executive of Rio Tinto Iron Ore has unveiled a new high-powered arts lobby group in Western Australia.

The Chamber of Arts and Culture, whose members will include some of the Western Australia's most powerful business figures when it is formally set up next month, aims to pressure Government for a better deal for a sector traditionally lacking political clout.

Art, fashion, design, entertainment and other creative industries contribute about $11 billion a year to the Western Australian economy but have never had a united public voice.

Walsh, who is likely to head the new group, told a commerce-meets-culture event at WA Government House "we see Government and the creative sector as equal partners with us in the pursuit of a sustainable arts community."

Walsh, Chairman of Black Swan State Theatre Company and a Director of WA Newspapers, leads the WA chapter of the Australia Business Arts Foundation, which held its awards for WA's best art partnerships last Wednesday.

Wesfarmers Chief Executive Richard Goyder, Alcoa Managing Director Alan Cransberg, Hawaiian Chief Executive Russell Gibbs, and Oakajee Port and Rail Chief Executive John Langoulant are among other corporate leaders pushing WA Arts and Culture Minister John Day about the need for a vision for the cultural development in the State.

As Walsh stated "surely we can have a vision of a society in which everyone is given an opportunity to fulfil their creative potential - a society in which this State, through its culture and arts, presents a unique sense of place and identity."

Walsh added that annual business support for the arts in WA had increased more than four-fold in the seven years to 2008 from $4 million to $18.

"All of this investment is critical to sustaining an essential part of our society; the artists who reflect the human condition in all its glorious unpredictability.

"Without this articulation how do we remain connected to one another, how do we build a sense of identity, a sense of place that is special to us?"

Walsh said Rio Tinto expected service firms and contractors working with the mining giant to "also demonstrate shared values through their support of the arts".

The new arts chamber will replace the low-key WA Arts Federation, which comprise arts company managers, and an informal grouping of the chairs of cultural organisations.

Federation Chairwoman Jude van der Merwe said the arts sector had felt for many years it did not have a loud enough voice in the halls of power.

van der Merwe explained "we have to help government find answers. We need not to be whinging. While there is a case for more sustained investment there is also a need for a much more sustained planning approach."

Western Australian Arts and Culture Minister John Day said he looked forward to working with the new group and hoped it would represent WA's many arts organisations in a coordinated way, stating "Government can sometime be offered disparate views from within a sector, and I would welcome input from the chamber when working through issues of competing interests."

Last week's AbaF winners included the Perth International Arts Festival and URS; the WA Opera's private giving program; ARTrinsic and the Lester Group; DAADA and the WA Disability Services Commission; the Film and Television Institute WA and Woodside Energy; Community Arts Network WA and the City of Gosnells; the Art Gallery of WA and the Water Corporation; ThinIce Productions and Hawaiian marketing manager Kate O'Hara; the RAC and Black Swan State Theatre Company; the WA Symphony Orchestra and ConocoPhillips; BHP Billiton Iron Ore and FORM; All Saints' College Lit Fest and Professional Public Relations; Tura New Music and Total E&P Australia. 






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