Craft Australia is concerned that the decision by the Visual Arts Board (VAB) was made without proper consultation either with Craft Australia or the craft and design sector. Craft Australia is therefore seeking a formal review of this decision. This letter outlines Craft Australia's grounds for consideration in the review process.
8 November 2011
To the Australia Council's Decisions Review Committee
This letter is in regards to the recent announcement by the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council for the Arts, (VAB), that Craft Australia will not be funded beyond the end of December 2011.
Craft Australia is concerned that the decision by the VAB was made without proper consultation either with Craft Australia or the craft and design sector. This therefore contravenes item 1 of the decision making process as described in item 8.5 of the Australia Council Governance Manual.
We also believe that the decision is in breach of the Australia Council's procedures for proper governance in that it contravenes the Australia Council's Fair Notice Protocol, defined in the Australia Council for the Arts Governance Manual, revised in April 2011.
Craft Australia is therefore seeking a formal review of this decision. We also seek immediate interim funding from the Australia Council in order for Craft Australia to submit a revised business plan for consideration in 2012 and to continue operating beyond 31 December 2011.
The following points are put forward as grounds for consideration in your review:1. No Notice Given of intent to cease funding
As a triennially funded key organisation supported by VAB, Craft Australia has received regular increases in funding with each of its triennium applications over the past 8 years. We have also been informed by the current Director of VAB and members of its current and past Board members that Craft Australia has been performing well as a key organisation. In fact Craft Australia has consistently exceeded against its key performance indicators.
In short, at no time during this 8 year period has Craft Australia been informed by the VAB that it is underperforming. It is only reasonable, and in accordance with good practice, that as a triennially funded organisation the VAB would approach the defunding of an agency in a strategic manner. Due consultation and proper notification is necessary to ensure the sector does not suffer unduly and to demonstrate appropriate planning. Regardless of how this impacts on Craft Australia the lack of proper process in implementing such a decision for a key triennial organisation can only send a very strong negative message to other key organisations.
On 11 October 2011 the General Manager was informed verbally that the organisation would not receive triennial funding beyond the end of December 2011. This was explained as an outcome of the limited review of Key Organisations that was undertaken by the VAB. Notice of the review was sent on 22 November 2010 in a letter titled process of renewal of your Visual Arts Board Key Organisations (Multi-Year) funding and was explained as follows:
".. the Board is providing you notice with this letter that your level of key Organisations funding may change after the end of 2011."
This notification is expressed in general terms with the obvious interpretation that funding may change, presumably decrease (not increase) and in no way warns organisations that they will not be funded at all.
The notice to terminate funding is also contrary to the fact that Craft Australia is currently identified as a funded professional service organisation in the Visual Arts Sector Plan 2011 -2013.
Following from this and in accordance with the Australia Council's statement of intent in the Governance Manual, Craft Australia can therefore be identified as an applicant that:
"..delivers the strategic infrastructure necessary to sustain and renew the creative potential of the arts sector."
It is unclear how the current VAB decision to cease ongoing funding to Craft Australia is consistent with this message. Ongoing funding to Craft Australia, even if at a reduced rate would continue to be consistent with the Australia Council's clear support of the Craft Australia vision and deliverables as articulated above.2. Contravenes Fair Notice protocols
We believe that due process has not been followed in notifying Craft Australia that it was unsuccessful in its application for ongoing funding. According to Items 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4 and 2.5 of the Fair Notice Protocol, official notification is to be given to the applicant with the opportunity for the applicant to address the issues raised by the Board. No such notification was given.
These items also state that up to 12 months will be given to the applicant to address concerns presented by the Board. No notification was given and indeed no concerns were indicated by the Board.
On 11 October Craft Australia was notified that it only had 10 weeks to wind up the organisation which has been delivering services and support to the craft and design sector for 40 years. The Australia Council was aware that the current funding arrangements run out on 31 December 2011, yet no allowance has been made for the impact on Craft Australia or the craft and design sector by suddenly ceasing funding.3. Opportunity to address concerns
With this letter Craft Australia seeks a formal review of the VAB decision. Because our funding will shortly run out we seek this review as a matter of urgency. In that review we seek the following: