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History of the Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board

The formation of an arts board in Tasmania

The Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board (TAAB) was officially formed in 1975 by the W.A. Neilson Government of Tasmania shortly after the establishment of the federal arts agency the Australia Council for the Arts. The Board shared two important advocates with Mr Claudio Alcorso, the first chair of the TAAB, and Ms Mary Houghton both being foundation members of the TAAB and Australia Council.

The TAAB’s formation was the culmination of a series of changes in administrative provisions for the arts made by the Tasmanian Government between 1973 and 1975. Until 1973 most State Government administration of the arts was conducted under the National Theatre and Fine Arts Society Act 1949.

During this period funding to the arts was given ‘at best, half-hearted and indirect support’ inclusive of allocations to ‘the ABC of $25 000 towards the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and $30 000 to the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust’ to name a few.

However, as early as 1971, the Tasmanian Minister for Education was being briefed about repealing the National Theatre and Fine Arts Society Act 1949, and the National Theatre Agreement of 1962, and replacing them with a state arts council, initially proposed to be titled the Tasmania Council for the Arts (another name considered was Tasmanian Advisory Committee on the Arts ), to act as a counterpoint to the Australia Council.

Discussions minuted from a meeting in 1972 between Mr John Tydde (then of the Tasmanian Adult Education Board) and Dr Jean Battersby (then Executive Officer of the Australia Council) formed the basis of a proposal to the then Tasmanian Minister for the Arts for the implementation of a council and executive officer with one of the points discussed being ‘the establishment of a statutory board to act as the Minister’s adviser and agent in respect of State Government support for the arts...’

In 1973 the formation of a board received further traction when the Tasmanian Minister for the Arts, the Hon. W.A Wallace, sought to ‘encourage development and improvement in the performing arts in Tasmania by forming a new Theatre and Performing Arts Council as a grant-recommending and coordinating advisory body.’

1974 saw this speculation come to fruition with the formation of the Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board’s short-lived predecessor, the Tasmanian Theatre and Performing Arts Council (TTPAC), established by an Act of the Tasmanian Parliament. Its inaugural meeting was held on 24 March 1974 at Domain House in Hobart with an agenda focusing exclusively on the performing arts.

The minutes of the first meeting reflect the significance of the occasion for the then chair, Mr Claudio Alcorso, and the five members in attendance (minuted as Mrs Mary Houghton, Mrs Gabrielle Klok, Miss Hazell Parsons, Mr T Woodward, and Mr Alec McGregor Campbell with Mrs Sheila Ryan an apology). “In opening the meeting the Chairman outlined his views on the responsibilities of individual members and stressed the importance of each member being fully aware of all performing arts activities within their own regional boundaries.” It is interesting to note that each member of the Council reported ‘on activity occurring in their respective region’ at the second meeting.

Although there were no funding allocations made or looked at during the first meeting a number of decisions and lengthy general discussions were minuted including:

  • That the Secretary of the Council be known as the Executive Officer
  • That the Executive Officer (who worked from home) as well as Board members should be remunerated. It was resolved that steps be taken for the provision of a sitting fee of $10.50 per half day and $21 per full day for members.
  • That the Executive Officer ‘should visit the mainland to confer with various state directors of cultural activities and to briefly observe their operations’.
  • That an estimation of required funds, being similar to the amount used by other States at the time, should be based on $1 per head of population
  • That all future grants and subsidies for the performing arts be channelled through the Council. A list of grants and subsidies for the Performing Arts for 1973/74 was tabled
  • That the Tasmanian Minister for the Arts be lobbied so that the Council ‘should be a true counterpart of the Australian [sic] Council and that its functions be widened to cover literature and visual arts and crafts in addition to theatre and performing arts’.
  • That the Council should be known as The Tasmania Council.
  • That ‘the Australia Council and all equivalent interstate organisations be officially informed of the setting up of the TTPAC and to request there be full communication and co-operation between all organisations concerned’.

Not long after the first Council meeting an Item for Cabinet, dated 8 May 1974, discussed the ‘reframing or amending where necessary the Tasmanian Theatre and Performing Arts Council Act 1973’.

There were only three meetings of the Tasmanian Theatre and Performing Arts Council (29 March 1974, 20 May 1974, and 1 July 1974 which was known as an Interim meeting).

During the second meeting of the Council a number of agenda items were discussed including the consideration of a report about the feasibility of establishing a new cultural venue in the CBD of Hobart. The need for a new centre was supported by many of Australia’s leading performing arts companies of the time including a passionate letter from renowned promoter Harry M Miller. Also, 9 organisations had requested funding assistance ‘of a varying nature’, and it was resolved that receipt of these would be made and that action be deferred until funds from the Government were made available. Also at the second meeting a new policy of sidelining $5 000 to go towards commissions of artworks was approved.

On 1 July 1974 the final meeting of the Tasmanian Theatre and Performing Arts Council was held. The Council was awaiting a new act to be passed in the next sitting of the Tasmanian Parliament. It was during this meeting that a new name, Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board, was presented and agreed upon.

Shortly after the last Council meeting, on 1 July, a Press Statement dated 11 July 1974, from the then Minister for the Arts Mr Neil Batt MHA, announced the inclusion of an additional 6 members to the ‘interim’ Council, with a distinctive visual arts and crafts bias, increasing the size to 12. The new members were:

  1. Mr Udo Sellbach, Head of the School of Art at the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education (TCAE);
  2. Mr Jan Sedvika, Director of the Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music;
  3. Mr Les Blakeborough, lecturer in Ceramics at the TCAE;
  4. Mr Stephen Walker, of Campania, an internationally known Tasmanian sculptor;
  5. Mr Martin Croft, lecturer in English and Drama at the Launceston campus of the TCAE;
  6. Mrs Jean Thomas, Director of the Little Gallery, Devonport.

The press statement announced: “Mr Batt said 6 new members had been added to the Board to widen its responsibilities and functions.” They joined:

  1. Mr Claudio Alcorso (Chair), Past Chair of the Australian Opera
  2. Mr Alec McGregor Campbell, the Burnie Regional Director of the Adult Education Board
  3. Miss Hazell Beth Parsons, Education Department Supervisor of Speech Education
  4. Mrs Mary Houghton, of Hawley Beach, a retiring member of the Theatre Board of the Australia Council for the Arts
  5. Mrs Sheila Ryan, Director of the Youth Theatre and Allied Arts at Scottsdale
  6. Mrs Gabrielle Klok, a former Director of the Tasmanian Youth Theatre and a former member of the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust

The early years of the Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board (1974 – 1975)

Shortly after the presentation of the new name Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board, in late July 1974, the Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board Bill was drafted inclusive of the idea of implementing a new Board. The introduction to the Bill said:

‘The first legislative step for the support and development of the arts was taken in 1973 by the enactment of the Tasmanian Theatre and Performing Arts Council Act. This legislation specifically provided for the theatre and the performing arts, thus omitting from consideration and assistance such fields as literature, the visual arts and crafts.’

It was also suggested that a new Board act ‘as a single authority for the arts’ in line with the Australian Government body the Australian Council for the Arts and that it provide assistance to the arts in Tasmania in the form of:

  • Grants or subsidies;
  • Loans;
  • Payments to meet whole or part of losses incurred in carrying out any operation or activity; or
  • Scholarships.

Previous funding to the arts had occurred on an ad hoc basis and was provided by the Premier’s and Chief Secretary’s Department, the Education Department and the Health Department.

On 19 August 1974, the first meeting of the newly named Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board was held. The minutes of the meeting reveal healthy discussion on number of issues including:

  • A draft for a new act.
  • The reimbursement of members’ expenses.
  • The initiation of four sub-committees in the areas of Theatre, Opera, Ballet and Puppets, to look at the submission of funding applications by the Tasmanian Theatre Company, Tasmanian Opera Company, Tasmanian Puppet Theatre, and The Arts Council (Tasmanian Division.)
  • Other funding issues were looked at in relation to Australian Dance Theatre, Contemporary Art Society, Australian Dance Theatre, ISME, Youth Orchestra, Tasmanian Art Trust Fund, Tasmanian Theatre Company, Contemporary Arts Society and Coral Festival.
  • The setting up of a community and arts centre at Salamanca Place (now known as Salamanca Arts Centre).
  • Treasury estimates including funds available and committed.
  • The employment of a secretary/typist to assist the Board and Executive Officer of the Board.
  • The expenditure of a maximum of $400 to be used towards newspaper advertising.
  • Implementation of new policy and guidelines for the future consideration of funding submissions.
  • The purchase of assets to assist the Community Arts sector.
  • Government premises: a letter from the Deputy Premier setting out the proposed use of government-owned buildings for promoting the arts was tabled.
  • Commissions: an amount of $5 000 was set aside for this purpose to encourage submissions from Tasmanian artists.
  • That office space had been found for the Board, and that it would be furnished with art loaned by the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG). Later correspondence reveals that the TMAG chairman of trustees ‘would give favourable consideration to making available suitable art works for hanging in the Board’s premises.’
  • A resolution that a visual arts standing committee would be convened with Messrs Udo Sellbach, Stephen Walker and Les Blakeborough as members. Their initial task was to ‘design a remodelling of the entrance door to the new offices, and to the production of a new distinctive design symbol and type face for heading the Board’s stationery and envelopes.

In June the following year Tasmanian Parliament passed the new act, repealing the Tasmanian Theatre and Performing Arts Council Act, and officially establishing the Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board Act of 1975, this time with responsibility for assistance to all of the arts. The official document declaring the act was signed and dated 4 June 1975 by the then Governor of Tasmania, Sir Stanley Burbury, and proclaimed ‘9 June 1975 is the date to which the Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board Act 1975 shall commence’. The document was also signed by the Minister for Education, Mr Neil Batt MHA, and certified by Attorney General B. K. Miller.

Some of the TAAB’s first recommendations to government in 1975 under the new act were:

  • To encourage the purchase and collection of works of art and the commissioning of special projects with the majority of works acquired remaining the property of the Government of Tasmania. The Board agreed on ‘the conditions governing grants made for the purpose of the acquisition and commissioning of works of art.’ A proposal, as part of the policy, in encouraging the development of the arts was that the Board ‘should investigate the use of the Elizabeth Street Ferry Terminal as a venue for sponsorship of community arts including lunch-time theatre, music recitals, etc., as well as the enrichment of the interior with suitable works of art’. This was a precursor to the public art scheme established many years later.
  • That all schools and colleges throughout the State should have on display original works by Tasmanian artists and craftsmen. In its first year the Board gave out 9 grants to Universities and Colleges totalling $4 150 for this purpose.
  • The implementation of three working parties consisting of Arts and Craft, Music Theatre, and Eisteddfods and Competitions which was later changed to four: Visual Arts and Craft, Performing Arts (Theatre and Lyric Theatre), Music, and Community Arts.
  • That assistance to individual artists be provided through funding in the form of either a loan or commission. Outright grants were not to be excluded, but considered in exceptional cases only.
  • To attract a high quality of performance to draw audiences and to retain their interest: ensuring a high level of skill in performance, direction, staging, costumes, lighting, etc.
  • That performing arts companies be structured so that state-wide touring was an essential component of their brief to allow for accessibility to the entire population.
  • That support of Artists in Residence would encourage professionalism and quality in all areas of arts activity.

Other recommendations included continuing support of community arts practice and conducting an inquiry into eisteddfod competitions and drama festivals to formulate a clear policy on them.

Also in 1975 the Chair, Mr Alcorso, felt that the Board should meet on occasions outside Hobart and give consideration to holding meetings for the public. This idea was developed by having a meeting in Launceston in September 1975 which included an open public session in the evening.

In the same year, the Board recommended funding to Burnie Civic Centre to commission Mr Garry Greenwood to ‘execute a Leather Sculpture’ for display in the entrance of a new art gallery being developed by Burnie Council within the Burnie Civic Centre. The unique leather sculpture can still be seen today in the foyer of the Burnie Regional Art Gallery. Two other grants were allocated by the Board in 1975 to assist the new gallery with its opening festivities, and to cover expenses in the initial stages of the setting up of the gallery.

In its first full financial year of operation the Board received 141 applications of which 94 received support. Each applicant had to go through an interview process, some more than once, within the process of applying. Within the same period the Board initiated a low-interest loans program with the first loan, of $5 000, approved in 1975 to furniture maker David Ralph ‘for stocks of Huon Pine’ at 5% interest rate per annum.

Total funds made available to the TAAB ‘for the promotion of the arts’ for the ‘financial year ending 30 June 1975 was $265 000 representing 0.16% of the State expenditure.’ It was noted by the Board that ‘this amount is much smaller than the expenditure authorised for the same purpose by the other Australian States.’ The population of Tasmania at the time was just over 400 000 people. Of the total amount allocated: $30 200 (11.4%) was absorbed in administrative costs; a Reserved by Law grant of $25 000 was made (through the ABC) to the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra; leaving $205 000 for general distribution as recommended by the Board equal to approximately 51c per head of population. The Board planned to extend this in future years to $2 per head with a key aim of ‘keeping Tasmanian artists in Tasmania, and to attract artists from elsewhere’ as one if its primary goals.

Board members Mr Alec McGregor Campbell and Mr Martin Croft resigned in early 1975 and were replaced by Ms Angela Devine, Mr Tony Hart and Mr John Nicholls. Launceston City Council made available a regional representative to the Board, Mr Peter Townley, bringing the total membership to 13 plus a Chair.

In the Board’s first annual report, published in late 1975, the importance of such a body was highlighted: ‘The establishment of a board for the encouragement of the arts should help to create an environment suitable for human fulfilment which will attract people from outside Tasmania. This will enrich the cultural life of the state.’

When interviewed many years later Mr Alcorso said of this time: “When we got the TAAB up and running…we all thought we were witnessing a great birth – the beginning of a great new era.”

Developing the arts in Tasmania (1976 – 1980s)

In 1976 a Visual Arts and Crafts Working Party – Proposed Future Policy paper was developed by the Board. Its recommendations to vastly increase support to the arts sector in Tasmania can be seen as the genesis of a number of the Board’s programs that continue to flourish today and include:

  • Purchasing and commissioning artworks
  • Travel
  • Residencies and visiting artist / craftsperson
  • Increasing the upper limit on loans
  • Assistance to state and regional galleries
  • Publications
  • Fellowships

In May 1977 the Board discussed a recommendation to establish a Museums Advisory Committee of five members, inclusive of one member from the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and one from the Launceston Museum and Art Gallery (now Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery), to advise the Minister for the Arts on the small museums sector in Tasmania - a precursor to today’s ongoing Small Museums and Collections program.

In 1978 the Board was involved in a performing arts meeting with representatives from all of the major performing arts companies in Tasmania at the time. On the agenda was; ‘Federal and State funding positions; the possibility of joint co-ordination of performances and of sharing of resources; and an Education and the Arts report’.

In 1979 the Board developed detailed policy advice for the Minister for the Arts in relation to its operations. The policy statement included:

  • “That the Minister for the Arts be the sole authority advising the Tasmanian Government, State Government Departments and Authorities on all matters appertaining to the Arts and that the Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board should be used to advise this Ministry in all such matters.
  • That the Board exists to support, encourage, initiate and co-ordinate activities in the Arts and organisations and individuals engaged herein.
  • In recommending financial support for the Arts, the Board will always consider requests for funding competition.
  • In recommending support for the arts, the Board will seek to promote the highest attainable level of excellence.
  • The Board will endeavour to make participation in the Arts available throughout the State and will give sympathetic consideration to activities in remote, regional and disadvantaged areas.
  • The Board will consult the relevant Boards and Programmes of the Australia Council, with joint funding of projects wherever possible.
  • The Board may provide advice and guidance in the design and building of theatres, galleries, workshops, Community Arts Centres and the like, or may recommend areas of expert advice, where the nature of the advice would seem to be, in the opinion of the Board, beyond its scope and capacity.
  • To overcome the problems associated with ‘locked-in’ funding, and thus the inability to stimulate innovative programmes, the Board will introduce closing dates for submissions…
  • The Board will not recommend grants for items of capital expenditure but will give preference to funding creative activities.
  • The Board will not recommend support for projects of a retrospective nature.
  • Although the Board does not intend to introduce formal submissions for applicants at this stage, these may be used at the appropriate time.
  • Recipients of grants must have satisfactorily acquitted all previous grants before the Board will consider new submissions. This will include the provision of appropriate reports and financial statements and an undertaking that the Board, or its nominees, have full access to all accounting records pertinent to funded projects should the Board so require.”

Also in 1979, the Board received a consultant’s report on its activates with one of the key recommendations being ’that the size of the Board should be reduced to eight members and a Chairman of which at least one member should represent each of the major art forms (visual arts, theatre, crafts, literature and music) with the remaining three plus Chairman to ensure a mixture of financial, business and legal expertise. The Board should also reflect the three major geographical areas of the State’ however it wasn’t until 1981 that the Boards size was reduced to eight members. 1979 also saw the Board scrapping its four ‘Working Parties’ in favour of two advisory ‘Panels’, made up of Board members, to process grant applications. These panels were entitled Performing and Non-Performing Arts.

In March 1980, and after five successful years in operation, an inquiry to review the activities of the Board was set up. Amongst its many recommendations to government were the following:

  • That there were deficiencies in the existing legislation.
  • That a new government body entitled the ‘Arts Board of Tasmania’ be formed.
  • That the staff, of which there were five at the time, be brought under the Public Service Act.
  • That funding for the arts should be increased consistent with the comparable average per capita expenditure levels in other states.
  • That additional funding to the arts is provided so as to permit the government’s decision to establish art in new public buildings to be implemented in the 1980/81 budget period.
  • That there should be four advisory panels involved in making grant recommendations in line with Board policy.

Cabinet decision 2691 agreed to endorse the report in 1981 with Parliament passing the Arts Advisory Board of Tasmania Bill 1981 proposing the name change, and repealing the Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board Act of 1975.

However, in 1982, cabinet decision 2691 to replace the Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board Act 1975 was still to be proposed as legislation. The issue was discussed a number of times by the Board but the bill never became legislation. Perhaps this occurred because in 1981 there was a change of Premier or, more significantly, in 1982 there was a change of government.

There was, however, a few key recommendations that did see the light of day from this report: firstly, the establishment of an ‘art in new public buildings scheme’. The scheme continues to operate to this day and is now known as the Tasmanian Government Art Site Scheme the first public art scheme of its kind to be established anywhere in Australia.

Secondly, the report saw the establishment of two working parties, an Innovations Programme and an Arts Based Industries program, both aimed towards developing policy on arts as business with particular emphasis on training in the arts and stimulating arts activities ‘where provision of funding has been historically low’. The Innovations Programme was launched in 1982 with a modest budget of $40 000 but in 1983 it was expanded and the name changed to the Innovations and Arts Based Industries Development Programme with over $91 000 in grants and loans recommended. This program was the first business and arts program of its kind to be introduced by an Australian State Government.

The formation of Arts Tasmania

In 1985 the Director of the Board outlined options to the Arts Minister to regularise the Board’s position under the State Service Act as proposed in the 1980 review. Some of the recommendations included options for:

  • The establishment of a new department.
  • Independent agency status.
  • Inclusion of the Board in the Department of Premier and Cabinet or under the Education Department’s agency.
  • More staff to assist the Board.

In the four years leading up to these recommendations, from 1980 to 1985, the budget allocation to the Board had doubled from $450 000 to over $950 000 increasing the workload and putting considerable pressure on the Board. The Board explained this to the Minister who bought the issue up with Cabinet, and they agreed to give the Board agency status and increase staffing.

Later in the same year the Minister suggested that the Board consider its operation as a ‘cultural ministry arrangement’ with ‘an advisory board and directorate attached to the Department of Premier and Cabinet’ but it wasn’t until the late 1980s that this component of the recommendation was enacted by the formation of the ‘Office of the Arts’ within the Department of Education.

Also of note, following these inquiries, the Director of the Board received a letter from the Commissioner for Public Employment that said: ‘it appears that you have the dubious honour of being the only person not ‘transitionalised’ into the State Service whilst the power to employ you has been removed. As a result your status can best be described as in limbo.’ The letter stated that resolution would occur once the fate of the Board was clarified, but the matter dragged on for a number of years.

In the following few years much political debate occurred over these matters. Government first asked the Board for a clear distinction between the work done by the Board and the work done by the Director of the Board relating directly to the administrative functions carried out for the Minister for the Arts, but outside of the parameters of the Board. In the first instance it was suggested that was to be done by using separate letterhead, one with ‘Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board’, the other with ‘Office of the Director, Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board’ written on it. The Secretary of the Department of Public Administration weighed into the debate showing concern for the legal implications of doing this and suggesting that ‘a legal opinion’ be sought from the Solicitor-General in relation to the TAAB Act 1975 and Tasmanian State Service Act 1985.

In late 1986, due to the non-resolution of inadequate staffing for the Board and ambiguities as to the position of staff working for the Board or for the Minister for the Arts, the Department of Public Administration reviewed the ‘Office of the TAAB’ and a cabinet submission was prepared. But it wasn’t until 1989 that these matters were resolved with the commissioning of a report for the Minister for Education and the Arts. It recommended that an ‘Office of the Arts’ should be created within the Department of Education as a way ‘to continue to assist the TAAB but also to assist the Deputy Secretary of the Department in maintaining integrated policy for arts and culture in Tasmania.

The Board endorsed the findings of this report however in June 1991 a new identity, Arts Tasmania, being part of the Culture and the Arts section of the Department of Education and the Arts, was conceived. This new name was initially used as an umbrella term for the State arts funding and policy development, with the ‘Office of the Arts’ and the ‘Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board’ having independent status. The name, Arts Tasmania, was publicly launched, along with a newsletter and brochure of the same name, on 18 December 1991 by the then Minister for the Arts. The title, ‘Office of the Arts’, lasted only another year until late 1992 upon which Arts Tasmania was used thereafter.

The Board’s first office was located at Lombard House, 153 Collins Street, near the corner of Harrington Street in the Hobart CBD. In 1982 the Board heard a proposal to relocate to Secheron House in Battery Point, the building having just been sold by the Maritime Museum of Tasmania; and $4 000 was approved towards renovations and repairs. However, at ‘the 11th hour, the Board was informed that Secheron House was unavailable and was offered alternative accommodation at 161 Davey Street, which was accepted.’ It moved from Davey Street in 2001 to 22 Elizabeth Street in the Hobart CBD and once more in 2009 to 146 Elizabeth Street Hobart where the Board continues to meet regularly and where the southern office of Arts Tasmania is presently located.

As at June 2014, Arts Tasmania has an operational staff of 15.55 full-time equivalents, spread across two offices in Hobart and Launceston. Its Hobart office also has an exhibition space, five artists’ studio spaces, and office space for a number of small arts organisations.

Public Art - The Tasmanian Government Art Site Scheme

Snippets from early Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board meetings indicate that a proposal for a public art program was on the agenda as early as 1974, and from 1975 onwards the Board was recommending funding towards the purchase and commissioning of artworks for Government buildings, mostly in Tasmanian Government schools.

However, it wasn’t until July 1977 that the Board considered a discussion paper titled Public Art Programme written by the then recently appointed Executive Officer of the Board Mr Allen Harvey. The paper’s opening remarks embody the vision of the Board for the implementation of such a significant program.

“The Arts Advisory Board considers that one of its most important functions is to bring the community into contact with works of art for the public’s enjoyment, education and enlightenment.

The Arts Advisory Board intends that the programme will help create a favourable climate for the reception of art; that a distinguished heritage of public art will be passed on to future generations and that opportunities, challenges and employment will be provided for artists of exceptional talent.”

Nearly two years later, on 29 May 1979, Tasmanian Government Cabinet Decision 1685 decided on a ‘new policy to supplement existing initiatives to promote the arts’. The decision was to implement a scheme designed to replace the ‘ad hoc arrangements’ where artworks were provided in some public buildings by the Board, or at the discretion either of individuals or by the Department of Planning and Construction Authority.

This new policy saw the birth of the Art for Public Buildings Scheme (ABPS), now known as The Tasmanian Government Art Site Scheme, and it stated ‘that 1% of the cost of buildings be allocated for the acquisition and placing of artworks, subject to the following; a maximum allowance of $10 000 for any one project; that it was not appropriate to allocate or spend any amount on acquiring artworks for a certain type of building, for example, a bulk store project, or a functional equipment housing; and, that the arts advisory board will consult with the Director-General of Housing and Construction on the type, location and placing of artworks in new or renovated buildings.’

Not long after this decision was made the Board lobbied the Minister stating that the $10 000 limited on each project was a constraint that ‘imposes unrealistic restrictions on a number of important and prestigious projects’ citing the Launceston General Hospital project worth $45 million which they argued had ‘sound psychological and social needs for art content.’ The Minister responded by writing to the chairman of the Board saying ‘When the Art for Public Buildings scheme is established by budgetary allocation I intend to resubmit the policy to Cabinet with the intention of removing the $10 000 limit.’ However it wasn’t until 1988 that the limit was eventually raised to $20 000.

The first completed public art commission under the new scheme was in 1980 and consisted of furniture for St Paul’s Chapel at Launceston General Hospital; it was a ‘collection of paintings, chapel furnishings in Huon Pine and an outdoor crucifix by Kevin Perkins, Peter Taylor and Merv Gray.’ This was followed in 1981 by three further commissions at Hobart Technical College; Launceston College of TAFE; and the Lands Department Hobart, with works being commissioned by Garry Greenwood, Chris Beecroft, Oliffe Richmond, Anton Holzner and Peter Taylor respectively. The scheme was initially administered by the ‘Visual Arts, Craft, and Art for Public Buildings Panel’ of the Board which was chaired by Geoff Parr.

In its early days the program had to overcome many hurdles. The funding allocation in the first year of operation was $25 000 ‘compared with a required $250 000 for a full year’s operation of the scheme…’ The Board informed the Minister of its disappointment at the low level of the allocation and asked the Minister to pursue full financial implementation of the scheme in 1981; but this did not occur for a number of years.

In late 1982 the Tasmanian Government’s Division for Construction prepared a Cabinet submission recommending that the scheme be discontinued. The matter was resolved after a policy statement was drafted and presented to the Minister for the Arts, Premier and Minister for Construction ‘with some constraints and new administrative arrangements to provide political review and effective cost control.’ The scheme was under pressure again in 1985 when a letter from the Minister for the Health was received by the Board. In it said ‘while there is merit in the scheme… in the current economic climate, it would be appropriate to review the scheme’s operation.’

Each time this has happened the value of the scheme has outshone criticism applied to it and it continues today as a key economic contributor to the visual art sector in Tasmania fulfilling its aim to enrich public buildings and spaces in the public arena with art works.

It was the first scheme of its kind to be established in Australia and its aim ‘to enhance the general public's access to and understanding of contemporary art reflecting the diversity and skill of the Tasmanian artistic community’ continues to make it an important historical and cultural achievement of the Tasmanian State Government.

In 2005 the scheme was celebrated through a publication titled Claiming Ground: Twenty-Five Years of Tasmania’s Art for Public Buildings Scheme. The publication featured a cross-section of works up until 2005 including the very first commission. In her introductory essay in the book Dr Deborah Malor wrote:

‘After twenty-five dynamic years, Tasmania’s Art for Public Buildings Scheme is firmly established as both a public collection and a catalogue of the work of the State’s established and emerging artists. In defining a common ground between art and its public the APBS has been developed in collaboration with architects, the construction industry and government, a powerful connector of art to the community, supporting the community of the arts.’

Today the Tasmanian Government Art Site Scheme facilitates all stages of the commissioning process for public artworks located in State Government buildings and spaces across Tasmania. The current upper limit on art works for each project has increased to $80 000 based on an agreed principle that two per cent of the pre-tender estimate for all new Tasmanian Government buildings and renovations be allocated for the purchase and commissioning of art works with the scheme currently managing over 30 to 40 individual projects each year with an annual budget of over $1 million.

Notable TAAB and Arts Tasmania initiatives (1980s – onwards)

Notable initiatives the Board undertook in the decade of the 1980s were inclusive of all artforms with particular consideration given to the following:

  • a major review of the theatre sector commencing in 1981;
  • a Director-in-Residence performing arts proposal in 1981;
  • future development of orchestras – the Dix Report in 1981;
  • a proposal for a Theatre Venue Subsidy Scheme in 1982;
  • developed a women in arts strategy in 1984;
  • considered the National Study into Future Development of Orchestras in Australia in 1984;
  • developed a Regional Arts Programme and Regional Exhibitions Touring Support Structure in 1985;
  • considered a proposal for an ‘Entertainment and Cultural Centre’ in the south in 1985;
  • commissioned a major report on the arts and the Tasmania economy in 1986;
  • assisted the Australia Council with research for a Computers and the Arts case studies project involving with two Tasmanian arts organisations. The aim being to ‘facilitate raising computer awareness in the arts community’ in 1987, but implemented in 1989;
  • implemented a working party to report on art and technology with particular reference to the formulation of policy and grant programs in 1988;
  • an Arts Based Industry Traineeship Review in 1988;
  • a Youth Arts Review in 1989;
  • endorsed ‘a draft cabinet submission that recommended the redevelopment of the Hunter Street Warehouse for occupancy by Designer Makers’ in 1989; and,
  • considered an ‘Artbank’ style art hire scheme (1988), and the implementation, upon the request of the Premier, of a Premier’s Literary Award (1987): both of which did not receive Board support.

In 1982 the Board assisted with the formation of an artist run initiative known as ‘Chameleon Artists Co-operative’ by providing funding to them to establish a workshop space ‘for a group of visual artists culminating in a group exhibition within a workshop complex proposed at the Lady Clark Hospital in Claremont’. They applied for $5 305 in funding and received $2 750. They relocated to 43 Campbell Street in March 1983, and in August 1992 merged with National Exhibitions Touring Scheme (NETS) and ArtHouse (a Launceston based artist-run-initiative) to become Contemporary Art Services Tasmania (CAST), now Contemporary Art Tasmania (CAT) the peak visual arts body that continues to operate in Tasmania today.

Also in 1982 the Board advised the Tasmanian Government on the suitability of a new Centre for the Arts in Hunter Street Hobart. Cabinet agreed on the submission to assist with the development of the facility. Today this multi-award building continues to house the University of Tasmania’s Tasmanian College of the Arts.

In 1984, following the a fire that damaged much of the Theatre Royal in Hobart, the Board assisted with funding through a number of different grants and loans and played a major role in advising and lobbying the Minister and Government of the day to commit additional funding towards the theatres redevelopment.

In 1986 the Board supported an allocation of $10 000 towards Tasmania’s involvement in the National Exhibition Touring Support Scheme including the employment of an Exhibitions Development Officer to be matched on a dollar for dollar basis by the Australia Council.

Also in 1986 a Board-commissioned report into the importance of the arts to the Tasmanian economy found that the arts did in fact have a significant impact, such as in 1980/81 the arts contributed to about 3 000 full-time and part-time jobs to the economy. Of this 1 850 jobs had a direct contribution to the arts, whilst the remaining 1 200 jobs had an in-direct contribution. Almost 750 of the direct jobs were in the form of part-time jobs. 1 900 of these jobs were in the film and broadcasting industry whilst 950 were in performing arts, the remaining were listed under ‘Creative Arts’. The report stated that ‘the significance of this figure can be seen by noting that average monthly employment in Tasmania in 1980-81 was 175 000.

In 1988 the Board discussed options for moving the Conservatorium of Music. The three sites discussed were Hunter Street, Central Mall at the University and the then ABC site on Sandy Bay Road. The Board was in favour of Hunter Street, whilst the Minister was exploring a feasibility study of the ABC site, the site where the Conservatorium continues to operate today. The Board also discussed a proposal for a new home for the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and in the following year the development of the Earl Arts Centre (Princess Theatre-Little Theatre) in Launceston.

Also in 1988 the Board unanimously endorsed a cabinet decision that recommended the government’s adoption of a corporate sponsorship incentive program whereby the government would match dollar for dollar any new sponsorship dollars attracted from the private sector in access of $1 000 and up to a maximum of $100 000 in a financial year.

The following year, 1989, the Board introduced for the first time a quick response fund; whereby an applicant was able to apply out of season for up to $500. In the same year the Board lifted the upper limit for individual artists’ grants from $5 000 to ‘whatever level it deemed fit to ensure project viability provided it could be accommodated within the Panel’s allocation’.

In 1989 the Board also supported Our Common Ground a series of projects promoting cultural heritage and links between nature, landscape and the arts. It was developed in partnership with the Australian Institute of Architects, the University of Tasmania, Australia Council for the Arts and the British Council; it also brought renowned English academic Susan Clifford to Tasmania in 1991. The projects that ensued drew on significant Australian artists including poet Gwen Harwood, photographer David Stevenson, architect Richard Leplastrier, composer Don Kay, artists Raymond Arnold and John Wolseley and landscape architect Maggie Fooke. A book of the proceedings was published.

In 1990 the Board supported a proposal for Tasmania to be the venue for the first Australian Designer Maker Conference in 1991, and a ‘Retail Marketing Project’ in partnership with Habitat of Hobart to allow Tasmanian designers to sell their wares out of Habitat’s shopfront premises. In the same year it considered separate reviews of the Tasmanian Arts Council, Craft Advisory Group Report, Tasdance Review, Community Arts Network Review, Cultural Tourism, and a National Exhibition Touring Scheme Review.

In 1991 the Board discussed the inclusion of an Aboriginal arts panel, but it wasn’t implemented until 1993 when Jim Everett, Karen Brown, Norm Sheehan and Jenny Gorringe were appointed to what was known as the Aboriginal Arts Committee.

A highlight in 1991 and 1992 was the Board’s assistance with the development of a major design initiative implemented by Arts Tasmania through the setting up of a new body, the Tasmanian Design Development Company (TDDC). The TDDC later changed its name to Island Design, and continued until 2001 when the organisation became insolvent. It was housed in the Hunter Island Design Centre in one of the old buildings next to the Tasmanian School of Art in Hunter Street, Hobart. The building also housed the Designer-Makers Co-operative, individual artists’ studios and later CAT. In early 1998 the government sold the building and the three organisations had to find temporary accommodation until later in the same year when accommodation became available for them at 27 Tasma Street the site where the Designer-Makers Co-operative, now Designed Objects Tasmania (DOT), and CAT can still be found today.

In 1993 the Board supported well-known Australian artist John Wolseley to become the first artist-in-residence at the newly refurbished Gorge Cottage in Launceston, with studio space at Ritchies Mill nearby. The project created significant interest particularly from local schools.

Also in 1993 Arts Tasmania co-produced, in conjunction with ABC TV, Fridge Door, a 13-week half hour series on the arts in Tasmania with some segments shown nationally on ABC’s Review arts program as well as in sixteen Asian countries including Hong Kong and Indonesia and on Qantas flights.

In 1995 Arts Tasmania established a ‘World Wide Web site on the internet with the working title of the Tasmanian Cultural Web’, and sought expressions of interest from parties wanting to be promoted through it. In the same year an Arts Tasmania office was established for the first time in Launceston and staffed part-time thereby providing more direct and cost effective services for northern artists and arts organisations.

Also in 1995, the Board completed and published its first Directions for the Arts policy handbook following a program of wide consultation around Tasmania. The policy had six major objectives to be achieved over the following three years and included:

  • “To broaden informed participation in the arts by Tasmanians as practitioners and as audience.
  • To offer financial assistance on behalf of the Tasmanian Government to projects that address policy objectives.
  • To encourage arts practitioners to achieve excellence and innovation.
  • To establish collaborative and co-ordinated approaches to arts policy.
  • To support research and development in arts practice.
  • To widen responsibility and expand the resources base for the arts in Tasmania.”

One of the new programs developed by the Board in response to the policy was the Creative Communities Fund, with four closing dates annually, its aim was to broaden the support for community cultural development in Tasmania.

In 1996 Arts Tasmania implemented the Wilderness Residency program in partnership with Parks and Wildlife Tasmania. Two residencies were initially offered and commenced in 1997 at Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair. The program instantly attracted great interest and continues today, but has been expanded to offer even greater opportunities for Tasmanian artists to respond to their unique natural environment. The program has supported many artists from diverse backgrounds with each artist responding to the experience of living and working in close proximity to the wilderness and heritage of Tasmania in very different ways. For a short period, from 2006 until 2009, the program hosted a number of international artists from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Taiwan, Germany, USA and France.

Two new funding programs were explored by the Board in 1996/97 and continue to be in operation today. First offered within the 1997 grant round was the Start-up grant program, a youth oriented policy allowing grants to be made by individual practitioners 26 years and under who had not previously received an Arts Tasmania grant to be used towards the purchase of essential equipment normally excluded from grant assistance, and, in 1997, the Board discussed Artflight, a funding program offered by ArtsWA that assisted artists with travel costs; however, it didn’t implement its own travel assistance program, named Artsbridge, until 1999 when it commenced a two-year financial partnership with international airline carrier Qantas even though it had initiated a short-lived small grants program titled ‘Travel Grants’ for artists in 1976.

In 1997/98 it was reported that the Board’s Major Cultural Taskforce had employed prominent festival adviser, Anthony Steel, to assist in the preparation of its report to the Minister on the establishment of a biennial festival. Proposed to commence in 2000, but deferred until 2001, the Board provided an initial $20 000 in support of the event. The festival that was born from this report was Ten Days on the Island, the State-wide arts festival that continues to occur in Tasmania on a biennial basis.

In 1998 the Board discussed a pilot program to develop all aspects of contemporary music in Tasmania. The program was to be part of a $10 million compensation package for the contemporary music industry in Australia. The Board administered $1 000 050 in funding distributed to the Tasmanian contemporary music sector over a 3-year period. Initiatives included; assistance with the development of the Tasmanian Music Industry Association, setting up a music distribution company, and stimulation of music events – with two of the beneficiaries being the Gone South and Falls Festival music events.

In 1998 the Board noted that the Government wished to establish a Tasmanian literary award, and that this initiative was to be funded by a new allocation of $30 000 per annum to Arts Tasmania.The Board further noted that the Premier asked Arts Tasmania ‘to investigate promoting its introduction and to seek sponsorship to increase the value of the award’, and a partnership was developed with the State Library of Tasmania to administer the award. The literary award was known as the Tasmania Pacific Region Prize and was a $40 000 biennial prize awarded in 2001 for the best novel written by a resident or citizen of Australia, New Zealand, Melanesia or Polynesia.

In 2003 an additional prize - the $10 000 Tasmania Pacific Poetry Prize was awarded for the best published book of poetry written by a resident and/or citizen of Australia, New Zealand or Melanesia. It was developed to complement the Tasmania Pacific Region Fiction Prize. In 2004, during the Tasmanian bicentenary year, the TAAB developed two one-off literature prizes; the $25 000 Bicentenary History Prize; and, the $5 000 Tasmanian Bicentenary Local History Prize. In 2005 the Tasmania Prize was offered: a $10 000 prize for the most outstanding book about Tasmania without restriction on genre or place of publication.

In 2007 the Tasmania Pacific Fiction Prize was replaced by a $25 000 Tasmania Book Prize to reward the best book about Tasmania in any genre to encourage interest in writing about Tasmanian culture and history both locally and internationally. In addition, two new prizes were added, sponsored by the University of Tasmania: The Margaret Scott Prize ($5 000) awarded to the best book by a Tasmanian writer; and the University of Tasmania Prize ($5 000) awarded to the best book by a Tasmanian publisher. The awards are currently collectively marketed as the Tasmanian Literary Prizes and are next scheduled to be held in 2015.

In 1999 the Department of State Development conducted a cultural industry audit. The audit recognised the significance of the arts as a key contributor to the state’s economy and cultural life and in early 2000 the Cultural Industries Council of Tasmania (CIC) was established with the outcome being the development of an industry plan aimed at providing ‘a clear direction for Tasmanian cultural industries for the following ten years.’ The CIC was formed by enlarging the Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board with additional members appointed to more fully represent the range of activity in the State’s cultural industry sector. The CIC completed the Cultural Industries Council Industry Plan in 2002 which contained a vision for the Tasmanian cultural industry, as well as a set of guiding principles and goals.

Also in 1999, after lengthy debate and review, the Tasmanian Premier announced the appointment of the Film, Television and Multimedia Council and Board and advertised for an Executive Officer. The Council, located within the Department of State Development, had an initial annual budget of $1 000 000 and essentially removed all film and screen funding from the Board’s agenda. The new Government agency was to be called the Tasmanian Film, TV and Multimedia Office but the name was later changed to Screen Tasmania.

In 1999 the Board streamlined its funding programs and moved away from assessing art form specific programs to three discrete programs inclusive of all artform areas. They were titled Artists’ Development, Arts Industry Development and Arts Events, but these were changed again in 2005 to Assistance to Organisations and Assistance to Individuals and continue to be in operation today.

Other key areas of the arts explored by the Board and Arts Tasmania in the 1990s included: a cultural tourism policy, a directions for the arts paper, youth initiatives, arts in isolated areas strategy, new technologies, a Tasmanian theatre report, a crafts in the 90s review, a further review and public consultation for the Art for Public Building Scheme (APBS), and youth theatre report. It also advised on film and multimedia, major festival (1997) taskforces, and a major arts industry audit.

In 2000 the Board initiated the Small Museums and Collections Program consisting of $50 000 in funding to create a new fund to assist with curatorial and collection management practices of smaller public and private collections and museums. 2000 also saw the Board discuss a proposal for the establishment of arts@work in 2001, the industry development unit of Arts Tasmania; the same year that the first Aboriginal Arts Project Officer was employed. In 2002, after the initial success of arts@work, a northern officer was established in partnership with Launceston City Council.

In 2001 the Board supported a request from the Alcorso Foundation to fund a residency for a Tasmanian artist in Italy for 3 months in 2003 in honour of the first Chair of the TAAB, the late Claudio Alcorso. It also noted that the Foundation, together with the University of Tasmania, was sponsoring Italian designer Andrea Morucchio to work in Tasmania in 2002. The Board continues to partner with the Alcorso Foundation in offering the Arts Tasmania Claudio Alcorso International Fellowship in recognition of the Boards inaugural Chair.

In 2004 Tasmania Performs was developed with funding from the Board and Australia Council for the Arts. It was designed to look at how to better engage theatre with communities throughout Tasmania and meet the needs of regional audiences. Stage one included state wide consultation with the outcome being a number of key reports for development of the performing arts sector. Stage two consisted of Arts Tasmania, in association with Wendy Blacklock a respected national producer from Performing Lines, partnering to refine the strategy; and in 2006, a Tasmanian producer was employed to develop three performances that toured regional Tasmania as the first season of Tasmania Performs. Tasmania Performs continues today supporting Tasmania’s performing arts sector with touring works in regional Tasmania in preparation for national and international touring, and through product and market development.

Also in 2004, and to accompany the Tasmanian Government’s celebrations of Tasmania’s bicentenary, Arts Tasmania in partnership with the University of Tasmania, organised a nine-day event Reflections of Tasmania to celebrate the contribution many Tasmanians have made to the cultural life of Australia and beyond. Internationally renowned Tasmanian artists were invited to come home to reflect on being Tasmanian.

Presenters and events included: Peter Conrad, the renowned writer who was the keynote speaker for Reflections of Tasmania; composer Peter Sculthorpe; dance choreographer Graeme Murphy; Christopher Koch, whose novels include The Doubleman, Highways to a War, The Year of Living Dangerously and Out of Ireland; Nigel Triffitt, best known for creating the tap dancing finale of the 2000 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony; Posie Graeme-Evans and John Honey on the Tasmanian film industry; and former Tasmanian Governor Sir Guy Green.

In 2007 the then Minister for the Arts published a discussion paper, An Island Inspired, aimed at exploring new directions in the arts. The paper coincided with a significant increase in funding to the arts by the Tasmanian government and proposed an overarching vision and goals, with input from the sector to support this. The outcomes were implemented in 2008 and included a number of new funding initiatives, including the Premier’s Arts Partnership Fund, the Aboriginal Arts Fund as well as the Distinguished Tasmanian Artist Award, Cultural Leader Award, Dombrovskis Award for Artistic Innovation and Minister’s Youth Award.

Throughout the 2000s the Board supported a number of significant arts industry development projects initiated and managed by Arts Tasmania and arts@work. These included:

  • Young Designers’ Month (annually from 2002 until 2005);
  • Design Island (annually from 2005 until 2009);
  • Tasmanian Living Artists’ Week (2003/04/05/07);
  • Tasmanian Living Writers’ Week (2006/08);
  • the Tasmanian Monograph Series (annually from 2004 until 2008); and
  • the Amplified contemporary music industry event (annually from 2005 until 2010 before being transitioned to Music Tasmania to deliver in 2011)

In sum the diversity of the Board’s programs has extended considerably over the years: today arts and cultural activities are rapidly becoming important industries positioned to take greater advantage of the opportunities to be offered by a post-modern information age.


The following lists the Tasmanian State Government Departments in which the Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board (TAAB), and Arts Tasmania, have been located.

  • Under direct Ministerial control of the Minister for the Arts from 1974 to 1989
  • Department of Education and the Arts (17 July 1989 - 27 March 1996)
  • Department of Education, Community and Cultural Development (27 March 1996 - 6 May 1998)
  • Department of Education, Training, Community and Cultural Development (6 May 1998 - 18 September 1998)
  • Department of State Development (18 September 1998 - 9 August 2002)
  • Department of Tourism, Parks, Heritage and the Arts (9 August 2002 – 5 April 2006)
  • Department of Tourism, Arts & the Environment (5 April 2006 - 11 February 2008)
  • Department of Environment, Parks, Heritage and the Arts (12 February 2008 - 30 June 2009)
  • Department of Economic Development, Tourism and the Arts (1 July 2009 – 30 June 2014)
  • Department of State Growth (1 July 2014 – present)

Directors, Executive Officers or Managers

(Inside brackets denotes time as Director, Manager or Executive Officer)

  • John Tydde – Executive Officer (1975 - 1976)
  • Alan Harvey – Executive Officer (1977 - 1979)
  • Jon Fogerty – Executive Officer (1979) then Director (1980–1983)
  • Lee Prince – Acting Director (1983) then Director (1984 - 1990) then Acting Deputy Secretary (Culture and the Arts - 1990-1991)
  • Lynne Uptin – Joint A/Manager (1990-1991) then Manager (later Director) from (1991 - 2007)
  • Katherine Hough – Director (2007- 2015)
  • Steve Kyne – Acting Director (2015- 2016)
  • Dr David Sudmalis – Director (2016 - present)

Chairs of the Board (1974 – present)

(Inside brackets denotes time as Board Chair)

1. (1974 - 1976)
Mr Claudio Alcorso
Born in Rome, Mr Alcorso was an industrialist, winemaker and avid supporter of the arts. In 1938 he emigrated to Sydney and established Silk and Textile Fabrics which he successfully transferred to Derwent Park in Tasmania in 1947. He was well-known as a pioneer of the Tasmanian winemaking industry having first planted ninety riesling vines at his property ‘Moorilla’ in the 1950s. He championed the arts through his involvement with the Australian Ballet, Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust, as a member of the Music Board of the Australia Council and as foundation chairman of Opera Australia and the Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board. He was a crusader for the environment taking an active stance in 1982 in the Franklin River protest and was a strong believer in social justice: speaking once at a land rights rally in front of Parliament House in support of Tasmanian Aboriginals and their claims of small sites of special significance. Shortly after his death in 2000 the Alcorso Foundation was established as an annual Australia–Italy exchange fellowship in his honour.

2. (1976 – 1978)
Professor Bruce Johnson
Emeritus Professor Johnson came to Hobart in 1965 to take up the position of Chair of Zoology at the University of Tasmania. During these years he was also Chair of the Professorial Committee of Exams, Teaching and Learning and inaugural Chairman of the University Fine Arts Committee which initiated the creation of the University Art Gallery purchasing many works of art for the university. He has directed film festivals in Adelaide and Hobart where he launched Hobart’s first film festival in 1996. He liaised with the National Film Theatre to show art films on a weekly basis at the University and was also one of the pioneers of the Hobart Film Society. Professor Johnson became State President of the China Australia Friendship Society in 1972 and under his leadership initiated numerous cultural, educational and artistic exchanges, including taking works of Tasmanian Watercolour painters to China where they received national TV coverage. He played a key role in facilitating the creation of the sister-state relationship between Tasmania and Fujian Province which has had significant impacts on trade and the economy. Professor Johnson was created an Honorary Citizen of Fuzhou in 2003.

3. (1979 Interim Chair)
Ms Mary Houghton MBE
Affectionately known as the ‘grand dame’ and ‘godmother of the Arts in Tasmania’ Ms Houghton was an antiques dealer based in Devonport. In 1968 Ms Houghton assisted Herbert ‘Nugget’ Coombs in the establishment of the ‘Australian Council for the Arts’, the forerunner of the Australia Council, to which she was appointed by the Prime Minister of Australia to its inaugural Theatre Board, was chair of the Theatre Board Puppetry Committee as well as an appointed member to the Theatre Board Drama Committee, Community Arts Committee, Special Projects Committee and Travel Grants Committee. She was instrumental in organising drama festivals in regional and rural Tasmania and was heavily involved in community arts and puppetry in Tasmania. She also served on the Tasmanian Theatre and Performing Arts Council, and was State Vice President of the Tasmanian division of the Arts Council of Australia in the early 1970s. She also was committee member of the Devonport Repertory Theatre Society, and a founding member Devonport Little Gallery.

4. (1980 – 1983)
Mr Peter Byers
Mr Byers was a leading financial administrator in the Tasmanian community who worked in areas relating to policy formation, management and finance. He held academic positions in Tasmania - including assistant to the Vice-Chancellor - Singapore and New Zealand where he was Colombo Plan Professor of Accounting. He also taught commerce, law and agricultural science, and was President and Chairman of the Federation of Australian University Staff Associations. He had extensive experience in business and government including a brief period as a financial consultant to the New Zealand Government. He was a chartered accountant and associate of the Australian Society of Accounts, Chief Examiner Accounting Schools Board of Tasmania, held numerous membership positions on the University of Tasmania’s financial and accounting committees, and was published a number of times. He was also Chairman of the Tasmanian Dance Company, and conceived Zootango Theatre Company with others in 1985.

5. (1983 Interim Chair)
Professor Emeritus Geoff Parr
Mr Geoff Parr held the position of Interim Chair of the TAAB for 2 meetings at the end of 1983. Mr Parr is a visual artist, an art teacher, art researcher and environmental activist. During the 1970's Mr Parr was a member of the Lake Pedder Action Committee, the United Tasmania Group, and the Council of the Australian Conservation Foundation. Over the period of his art practice he has worked in painting, photography and since 1995, in digital printing having being one of the founders of the University of Tasmania’s research group WARP. In 2008, Geoff Parr was awarded membership of the Order of Australia ‘for service to the visual arts through leadership in the development of tertiary education in Tasmania, research and advisory roles, and as an artist’. Mr Parr's artwork has been shown in several critically significant exhibitions throughout Australia and overseas, with a selection of his photographic works included in the Australian Perspecta exhibitions (1983 and 1985) at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. His work is widely collected in Australia and is held in several state galleries including the Australian National Gallery, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the National Gallery of Victoria. He is currently Professor Emeritus and an Honorary Research Associate at the University of Tasmania.

6. (1984 – 1987)
Professor Peter Scott AO, OBE, MSc (Econ), PhD (London), HonLLD (Tasmania), HonFAIUS
Emeritus Professor Peter Scott was ‘the first lecturer and professor in Geography at the University of Tasmania guiding the development of the department until being consumed by higher university duties in the mid-1970s. During his headship the Department of Geography gained an excellent research reputation in urban geography, rural geography, historical geography and geomorphology, and produced a generation of highly competent secondary teachers.’ His other achievements include; President of the Institute of Australian Geographics, Member of the Executive Board of the International Council of Scientific Unions, President of the International Geographical Union and Foundation Chair in Geography at the University of Tasmania as well as President of the Royal Automobile Club of Tasmania (RACT) and President of the Australian Automobile Association. In the late 1970s he was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for service towards urban planning, and during Australia’s Bicentennial year, 1988, was awarded an Order of Australia (AO) for service to learning and to the community. In his honour, in the late 1980s, the University of Tasmania founded the Peter Scott Prize in undergraduate Geography for best performance and academic excellence.

7. (1987 – 1992)
Mr John Soundy
Mr John Soundy was originally appointed to the Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board by Arts Minister Terry Aulich as Chairman of the TAAB’s Theatre Panel. He had previous experience in arts administration with the Launceston Players and the inaugural Tasmanian Theatre Trust. This era also saw the development and support of Tasdance and Zootango by the TAAB. During his time, as Theatre Panel Chairman and later Chairman of the TAAB, he also chaired the inaugural Tasmanian Design Development Company and Theatre Royal Management Board during the redevelopment of the theatre after the disastrous fire in 1984. He took a keen interest in all TAAB Panels and the overall development of the arts including financial probity for arts organisations in Tasmania.

8. (1992 – 1995)
Ms Megan Cavanagh-Russell
Ms Cavanagh-Russell studied at the Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music in Hobart. She was trained as a school music teacher and a pianist and had a strong interest in Eurhythmics (the Dalcroze approach to music education using the body as an expressive instrument) which led her to study at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh with internationally renowned teacher Professor Marta Sanchez. She also completed a Master in Educational Studies focusing on administration in art education. In 1991 Megan was appointed Senior Lecturer and Manager of the University of Tasmania North West Centre and served as a board member on the North West Community Arts Association. In 1996 she was appointed Director of the North West Cradle Coast campus of the University of Tasmania, and during this period was Planning Dean for the UTAS College project. From 2006 to 2008 Megan held the position of Dean of Education for the Faculty of Education at UTAS. Megan has also held the positions of Director of the Cradle Coast Authority, Director of the Brand Tasmania Council and was a member of the Tasmanian State Government’s ‘Tasmania Together’ Board. In 2001 Megan was the recipient of an Australian Centenary Medal in recognition of her contribution to culture and education on the North West Coast of Tasmania. She has also received honorary membership of the Tasmanian Women’s Role of Honour.

9. (1996 – 2000)
Mr John Lees
Mr Lees was Mayor of Launceston from 1996 until 2001. He was proprietor of Lees Orchards and was chairman of the working party for the establishment of the Earl Arts Centre in Launceston and first President of its committee. John had a strong interest in the involvement of local government in arts development, and in the development of theatre in Launceston.

10. (2001 – 2005)
Mr Scott Dawkins
From Launceston Mr Dawkins had his own accounting practice and a high level knowledge of the financial management and monitoring required for arts organisations. His association with the arts spans more than twenty years as Chair or founding member of a number of arts organisations. He was Treasurer of the Tasmanian Arts Council for six years prior to becoming Chair of Tasdance for six years. He has contributed to many other boards including Gambit Theatre, Festivale and the Tasmanian Wood Design Collection in Launceston. Mr Dawkins is a director of the board of Ten Days on the Island, Tasmania’s statewide biennial multi artform festival.

11. (2006 – 2011)
Mr Saul Eslake
Mr Eslake is Program Director, Productivity Growth of the Grattan Institute, a ‘think tank’ affiliated with the University of Melbourne, and more recently an Advisor in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ economics practice. For 14 years he was Chief Economist of the ANZ Bank and was one of Australia’s most widely recognised economic analysts and commentators. Mr Eslake has held positions at the Australian Treasury in Canberra, McIntosh Securities, (now Merill Lynch Australia), and National Mutual Funds Management (now AXA Australia). He has a first class honours degree in Economics from the University of Tasmania, and a Graduate Diploma in Applied Finance and Investment from the Securities Institute of Australia and in 2003 he completed the Senior Executive Program at the Columbia Graduate School of Business in New York. Mr Eslake is a Senior Fellow of the Financial Services Institute of Australia, a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Australian representative on the International Conference of Commercial Bank Economists. He is a member of the Australian Government’s National Housing Supply Council and, from February 2010, was a Director of the Australian Business Arts Foundation (AbaF). In his home state of Tasmania, Mr Eslake is a Director of the University of Tasmania Foundation, and of Hydro Tasmania. He is also a member of Advisory Panels for the Economics Schools of the University of Tasmania, Monash University and RMIT University.

12. (2011 – 2015)
Mr Damian Bugg AM QC
Mr Bugg was admitted to the Bar of the Supreme Court of Tasmania in 1969. He was a Senior Litigation Partner in the Hobart law firm Dobson Mitchell and Allport when he was appointed the first Director of Public Prosecutions for Tasmania in July 1986. He took silk in 1994. On 2 August 1999 Mr Bugg was appointed the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and held this position until 12 October 2007. In 1998 Mr Bugg was made a Fellow of the University of Tasmania and appointed Chancellor in 2006.

13. (2015 – present)
Mr Nicholas Heyward
Nicholas Heyward is Managing Director of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, a position he has held since October 2001. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from the University of Tasmania and has worked in management roles in major performing arts organisations in Australia and the United Kingdom before becoming CEO of the Brisbane Biennial International Festival of Music and CEO of the Adelaide Festival of Arts. He is Chairman of Symphony Services International, a Director of Arts Management Tasmania Pty Ltd, a Member of the Theatre Royal Management Board and a Member of the ANZAC Centenary Arts Advisory Committee.


The full referenced source can be found in the download below:

TAAB History - PDF 693 KB