National Arts Agency News

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Review launched into protocols for artists working with children

One year after releasing protocols for artists working with children, the Australia Council for the Arts is now reviewing their effectiveness in protecting the rights of children and their impact on the creation, exhibition and distribution of art work involving children.

The protocols, developed by the Australia Council at the request of the Australian Government, were introduced on 1 January 2009 and apply to all arts grants issued since that date. The Australia Council committed then to reviewing the proposals after 12 months.

The Australia Council’s review will seek feedback from all arts organisations that are funded by the Council, state arts agencies and other stakeholder organisations and artists. The Australia Council will also review the impact of the protocols on applications received for grants.  Input to the review can also be provided online here.

“The protocols are intended to help artists and arts organisations understand their legal obligations and to establish responsible steps for artists when they involve children in the creation, exhibition or distribution of creative works,” said Kathy Keele, CEO of the Australia Council.  “They are not intended to stop controversial work but rather provide guidelines for artists, similar to those already existing for other professions working with children.”

“The two basic principles are that artists should know and follow existing laws, and obtain appropriate consents when working with children, or exhibiting or distributing images of them. In reviewing the Protocols, we’re interested to see, for example, what impact the consents and classification process has had on the content, costs and delivery of exhibitions.” 

“The Australia Council is committed to a transparent process which ensures children are protected from abuse and exploitation, and to a process which ensures freedom of artistic expression. This review will reveal how much we delivered both these priorities.”

The review – and any recommended changes to the protocols – will be completed by late February.
The Australia Council is also preparing a submission to the NSW Government this month in response to a recent working party proposal to scrap the defence of “artistic merit” in child pornography prosecutions.  The Australia Council, with other arts service organisations, met last week with representatives from the NSW Attorney General’s office to raise some concerns.


“We actually believe that the proposal, which will harmonise NSW laws with the Commonwealth on the definitions of child pornography, has the potential to be advantageous to genuine artistic expression,” said Kathy Keele.  “The arts community has a role to play in helping police and prosecutors develop clear guidelines concerning artistic intent, so law enforcers can better target the real child abusers. 

“Our protocols for artists working with children were a key reference in the working party report – it’s reassuring that the voice of arts agencies is being heard.”

Show latest news, more from January 2010.

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