When is National Arts Week?

The fact that Australia does not have a National Arts Week is a glaring absence in our national calendar.
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Image: Epheriell Designs

In the last month we’ve had National Engineering Week, National Science Week and we’re actually in National Book Week right now. Each of these themed weeks feeds directly into a vision for a brighter, smarter, better shared future for us all, but for some reason, not the Arts. Not yet at least!

If you already think it sounds like a good idea then head to http://www.artsweek.net.au and sign the petition. Otherwise, read on..

Creating an Arts Week will be a seven-day opportunity to celebrate, participate and experience the Arts in every form, by as many Australians as possible across the country. It would be an officially sanctioned, national engagement priority for one week every year, supported by our governments at every level, our broadcast and print media, all our publicly funded institutions and most important of all, by us the Australian people.

Of course, we already have many cultural and artistic festivals, events and gatherings happening every week across Australia and each one is important. However establishing a National Arts Weeks is not only about creating new opportunities for us all to connect, it works to actively boost the perception of all these other regular events by growing the Great Australian Audience, and open up more of us to new cultural experiences throughout the rest of the year.

 The possibilities for this week are endless! At the moment we think the start of spring (the first full week of September) would be an apt date to set for such an optimistic event.

 How about within seven days we enable every Australian student to go to the theatre (or the theatre goes to them, in rural areas), and encourage schools to put on shows themselves. Every council could organise local performers and entertainers to connect with their local communities each evening, and these activities would be supported by online projects and TV programming built around celebrating our Australian creativity, culture and communities. 7 days where the evening TV news slots promote an arts and culture segment, perhaps just before the sports round-up.

The week could culminate in a special Cultural Night in all our state capitals, where as many AMPAG organisations, theatres, museums, churches, libraries and businesses as possible could offer artistic and cultural entertainment and performances of every form, from concerts to interactive activities, drama/theatre/opera productions, from historical tours to poetry readings (you get the idea) for anyone who buys a pass for a nominal fee. Even our parliament buildings could (and should) get involved as venues. Children under 11 can attend for free and all public transport could also be free between 5pm-5am for those with the pass.

But first things first. We may not establish all of this in the first year – what we need to do now is make sure year one happens in the first place. We’re 12 months out from that happening.

We need to show true grass roots support for this wonderful idea, through signing our petition, and we then need to convince all the major political parties to agree to back the plan, so whatever happens at the next election, we all win for a change.

PJ Collins
About the Author
PJ is a film and theatre director, writer and digital producer based in Sydney. He is also the Leader of the Arts Party. His passions (outside of his family) are encouraging community and creativity in daily life, and tries to always live by his favourite saying – it’s not a dress rehearsal.
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