NAVA celebrates Ausdance National’s 42 years of achievement on the news of its closure

Media release

NAVA is shocked and saddened at the news of Ausdance National’s closure at a time when expert advocacy and specialist artform sector development is urgently needed. 

“Ausdance National has long been a leading voice, expert and agent of change”, said Esther Anatolitis, Executive Director of NAVA. “Its consistent record of achievement across 42 years has propelled the dance sector onto the national agenda, and created exceptional opportunities for artists. Its policy impact has enriched Australia’s arts and culture, and its loss will be felt deeply. 

NAVA and Ausdance National have long been close collaborators. Former Executive Director of NAVA, Tamara Winikoff OAM, said:

“The loss of Ausdance National to the arts community is profoundly destabilising. As the previous head of NAVA, I worked in close collaboration with Julie Dyson, the indefatigable CEO of Ausdance National. I know how incredibly valuable to the arts sector were the many strategies we worked on together to change legislation, provide the evidence base for national policy development and co-ordinate the arts sector’s lobbying including through our co-convening of ArtsPeak (the national arts advocacy coalition) and guiding the work of the National Advocates for Arts Education.

“Ausdance National was one of 65 small to medium arts organisations that were defunded as the result of previous Arts Minister George Brandis’ raid on the arts budget from 2014. This continues to ricochet. The lack of any federal government arts policy along with the disbanding of the Australia Council’s artform boards is resulting in a lack of national vision and coherent direction for Australia’s cultural development.

“Without its national voice, the dance community will be struggling to get the attention and achieve the developmental assistance that it has previously enjoyed. Key decision makers will no longer be able to get expert national dance industry advice to guide their policies and programs.  

“Who now will help the federal government and its funding body feel the pulse of the dance sector across Australia? Worryingly it’s obvious that they couldn’t care less.”

Esther Anatolitis said: “I want to thank Ausdance National President Gene Moyle and Executive Director Kathy Baykitch for all of their work, and for the courage and sensitivity with which they’ve taken this difficult decision. 

“I also thank founders Keith Bain OAM, Peter Brinson, Hanny Exiner, Donna Greaves, Dr Warren Lett, Shirley McKechnie OAM and Dame Peggy van Praagh, for their long-term vision and deep care for the sector. 

“I particularly want to thank and recognise Julie Dyson AM for her deep commitment to Ausdance National over so many years as a founder, as CEO and more recently as chair. Through the National Advocates for the Arts and Education, and in so many other ways, I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with Julie. I deeply admire Julie’s ethical approach and her deep determination. Her commitment to dance is fundamental. 

“The implications of this closure are dire – and not just for the dance sector. 

“At a time when artists’ incomes and career prospects are declining, and comprehensive sector-wide planning is lacking, Australia needs expert bodies with deep artform connections and national reach. We lack a strong, national voice for the arts, and compounding this, the Australia Council has lost the capacity to invest in much-needed artform leadership and sector development since the debilitating cuts of 2015. 

“Back then, many of us were deeply concerned that it would take years for the impacts of those cuts to be felt. Today, we see one of those impacts.

“I join everyone at NAVA in wishing the dance sector all the very best for a constructive and ambitious set of conversations at this week’s National Dance Forum in Darwin. NAVA looks forward to more collaborations that strengthen the arts across Australia.”