Why Arts Initiative Australia?
This company was established because there is a need for more support for independent artists.
I'm Andrew, one of the co-founders of Arts Initiative Australia. Over the last decade I've faced a lot of difficulties in building my business as an artist. Some of those difficulties have been self imposed (I recognise market forces yet create work that doesn't adhere to them, I take huge personal and financial risk with just about everything I do) but other difficulties have been a result of external factors... missing out on the ArtStart grant because I didn't fall into eligibility in time before its collapse as a program, funding not being available for basic business infrastructure for individual artists, traditional philanthropic interest not set on helping artists build independence, Australia Council funding cuts, infrastructural funding for small to medium orgs not accessible, being on the brunt of an ongoing argument about the value of the arts (at multiple levels of society), told time and time again to "get a real job" (even now...), facing the "can you get me freebies" question with every performance (to which I now answer, "of course, let's talk contra, what do you do?..."), increasing costs of venue rental etc.
There's HEAPS of programs that support the creation of work; the various foundations, Australia Council, the Arts Office, state based funding bodies, council-level operators. Some of these bodies require adherence to a policy enactment (e.g, "policy priority areas", so the arts fulfil a political function, or realise a non-arts vision of some sort) and others are simply there to support creation or performance/presentation of work.
I always felt a lack of funds available to individual artists to simply be about business development. Although I can see that, broadly, it is understood that an artist's business development is best done via them creating and presenting work; I find this view condescending and limiting. I really wanted to open up an opportunity for individual artists to think on a broader resources level. Doing absolutely everything for an artistic project or product (from concept, creation, production, sales, marketing, philanthropy, risk assessment and aversion etc)...; that'd be MAD, right? (Mad = Managing and Artistic Director = Insane).
So I was at a private performance in Sydney where I bumped into Andrew Luboski, who has a deep interest in music and has pursued a career in finance. We spoke about the conundrum I find independent artists in and we teamed up to build a board/task force to deal with the problem. He introduced me to Natalie Zwar, who later became our Chair. Natalie's legal brain keeps me in check, and it was evident she wanted to sink her teeth into this project! Toby Chadd works as the label manager for ABC Classics and is one of my clients at Limelight Magazine (I'm the owner/publisher), after I told him what was going on, he came on board for development... alas he's had to pull out with a bunch of other commitments. After searching for another board member, Claire Stokes came on and her background in development, philanthropy and social enterprise has been an absolute boon.
So here we are; we have a company structure, DGR status, a website that can take and fulfil donations, a mission, a great team, and a love for the arts!
Over the coming year we'll be expanding our reach and capacity to support arts capacity! Stay tuned!