George Fairfax Fellow 2001 Hon Dr Race Mathews

Kenneth Myer Lecture - Masters of their own destiny: Autonomy and the performing arts

Following the positive response by governments to the report of Helen Nugent's major performing arts inquiry, urgent attention needs to be given to the seedbed companies where so often audiences are introduced to the performing arts and practitioners are launched on their professional careers. Doing so calls for lateral thinking such as will enable the widest possible range of stakeholders to become involved. One solution may be to develop multi-stakeholder arts mutuals from the simpler arts mutuals such as coo-operatives which are already widespread in many spheres of arts activity. Relevant models include the multi-stakeholder mutuals of the Mondragon Co-operative Corporation and the employee mutuals, which are being trialled currently in Britain.

Possible stakeholders in an arts mutual could include employed, unemployed and trainee practitioners, professional, quasi-professional and amateur theatre bodies, community groups, municipal councils and statutory bodies such as the ABC. Mutualist models may also be helpful to major performing arts companies facing erosion of their subscription income or incurring higher support services costs.

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