Orchestras Review 2005—Australian Government Response
The Australian Government will commit $25.4 million over four years to Australia’s symphony and pit orchestras as part of its response to the Review of Orchestras conducted by James Strong.
The funding will secure the long-term sustainability of the orchestral sector and improve the financial and artistic outlook for the orchestras.
“The Government’s response to the recommendations of the Strong Review will put orchestras on a strong financial footing, and help them become independent organisations with responsibility for their own artistic and financial future,” the Minister for the Arts and Sport, Senator Rod Kemp, said.
“It is important that all governments, together with orchestra boards, management and musicians, work together now to build a more viable independent orchestral sector.”
Recognising the important contribution orchestras make to the musical life of their cities, the Government has agreed to provide additional funding to the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, The Queensland Orchestra, the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and also to the West Australian Symphony Orchestra to allow these orchestras to maintain their ensemble sizes.
The Government has agreed to the implementation of the key recommendations of the Strong Report including:
- funding to ensure that the current size of orchestras in Tasmania, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia can be maintained, costing $9.9 million;
- establishing the orchestras as independent companies limited by guarantee, at a cost of over $4.1 million;
- a two-year program to improve artistic standards in the orchestras, at a cost of $3.1 million;
- an initiative to improve the occupational health and safety standards and conditions for orchestral musicians, costing approximately $0.4 million;
- funding to secure the longer-term sustainability of the orchestras, at a cost of $4.7 million; and
- funding of almost $1.3 million to the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra in Sydney to assist with the orchestra’s running costs while a further examination of opera and ballet in Sydney and Melbourne is under way.
This additional funding must, however, be matched by appropriate additional contributions from each of the State governments and will be linked to orchestras’ acceptance of the key workplace changes recommended by the Report. Consultations with the State governments will continue over coming months to finalise these arrangements.
In responding to the Report, the Government has agreed to the key recommendations put forward by James Strong, particularly that:
- the six State symphony orchestras become fully independent companies, no longer owned by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), noting that the service level agreements will be developed between the ABC and the orchestras to preserve the mutual benefits (Recommendations 1, 2 and 3);
- the governance and accountability requirements for the orchestras will be significantly strengthened (Recommendations 5 and 6);
- workplace arrangements for musicians will become more flexible allowing the orchestras greater ability to earn commercial revenue (Recommendation 9);
- a range of initiatives will provide improved artistic standards for orchestras, and will provide funding to develop occupational health and safety strategies for orchestras (Recommendations 10 and 12);
- funding be provided to the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, preliminary to a further examination of the issues surrounding the delivery of orchestral services in support of the Sydney and Melbourne seasons of Opera Australia and The Australian Ballet (Recommendations 17 and 18);
- consistent with Recommendation 19, the Australian Government is prepared to make a commitment to the Canberra Symphony Orchestra and the Darwin Symphony Orchestra to improve their artistic success; and
- orchestras, in consultation with the ABC, should determine and implement alternative arrangements for the delivery of services and programs currently provided by Symphony Australia (Recommendation 20). Funding of up to $1 million will be available to assist with this process of change.
In recognition of the financial difficulties faced by many of the orchestras considered in the Report, the Government has agreed to provide a $4.7 million funding package to secure their long-term sustainability.
he Government has not agreed to the following recommendations:
- reductions in the size of the ensembles of the TSO, TQO and ASO (Recommendations 13 – 16); and
- allowing orchestra members who currently belong to Australian Government superannuation schemes to retain their membership of those schemes once the orchestras are established as companies independent of Government (Recommendations 4 and 11), This is consistent with general government policy. Existing members will not lose their accrued benefits.
10 May 2005
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