Arts & Culture Taskforce

Arts and Culture Taskforce

Last Wednesday, 19 September 2018, the Arts and Culture roundtable gathered for their September edition. The group had a full agenda covering a wide range of topics. Jesse Cain, Marriner Group, presented exciting developments in Melbourne’s theatre scene including the overwhelming bookings following the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and the release of a new musical Come From Away. The presentation was a positive reminder of the vibrant theatre scene in Melbourne. The working group, Enabling Creativity in Melbourne, presented current progress including identification of 3 needs and GIS data to map spaces. Suggestions from the floor added further avenues for investigation such as the possibility to evaluate underutilised studios and display spaces in Melbourne. Ideas from the conversation will be taken to the Chair, Nick Boulter, for consideration. Michelle King, Australia Accommodation Association of Australia (AAAoA), shared work by a group who are envisioning a method to reactivate Melbourne in winter. Hotel occupancy rates over the July period dropped significantly in comparison to the rest of the year which prompted the AAAoA response to reimagine how Melbourne could leverage existing Arts and Cultural activities to create a ‘Melbourne in winter’ brand. The endeavour is an excellent example of how Arts and Culture enterprises can forge symbiotic relationships across industries. The next Arts and Culture Roundtable will be 11 of December. Find slides from the event here.

Members of the Arts and Culture Roundtable have indicated their intention to advocate further for extension to the free tram zone, which was originally an initiative of the group. Extension of the Free Tram Zone is seen as an important step to encourage further visitor participation at key cultural institutions within Melbourne. Currently the Free Tram stops short of key Cultural and Arts venues in Melbourne. As such the Committee recognises extension to the free tram zone will be vital to incorporate more of the key institutions including, the entire Arts Precinct, MCEC, MCG, Melbourne Museum and Melbourne and Olympic Parks. The full position can be read here.

Members of the Committee’s Arts and Culture Roundtable formed a working group called, Enabling creativity in Melbourne with the first meeting August 30 2018. The group chaired by Nick Boulter, ARUP, is considering how Melbourne can continue to foster Arts and Culture in Melbourne. Various areas were highlighted for artists including the cost of studio space, the cost, and availability of display spaces and the need to create more international engagement. Outcomes from the groups last meeting include looking at how to create

  • More studio spaces
  • More exhibition spaces
  • More international engagement

The group will reconvene later in the year to discuss how the above issues can be addressed in a pragmatic way. Should you wish to be involved in the Enabling Creativity in Melbourne working group please get in touch with David Prior.

Members of the Committee’s Arts and Culture Roundtable met on Tuesday 5 September 2017, confirming their intentions to: 

  • Submit a proposal to the Victorian Government for the extension of the Free Tram Zone
  • Undertake a series of initiatives to establish a united and powerful voice for Melbourne’s arts and culture scene
  • Work collaboratively to address security concerns

Kindly hosted by Melbourne and Olympic Parks Trust, participants were provided with an insight into the strategic vision of the organisation responsible for administering Melbourne, and Australia’s, preeminent sports and entertainment precinct.  

BCG Arts report

Commissioned by the Victorian Government, the Boston Consulting Group's Melbourne as a Global Cultural Destination report examines the city’s cultural strengths to find out how Melbourne compares to other cities in Australia and globally.

While Melbourne is ranked the top cultural destination in the country, third in the Asia Pacific and twelfth in the world for arts and culture, its position is being challenged. 

Five strategic priorities have been recommended to increase Melbourne's position, particularly that of increasing consumer awareness of Melbourne, through an articulated promotional plan that provides an overarching cultural guide for tourists:

1. Make culture a key part of the Melbourne proposition
2. Protect existing infrastructure
3. Optimise the current offer
4. Expand our offer
5. Enhance governance

The strategic priorities align with the Committee’s Arts and Culture Roundtable collaborative agenda for advancing Melbourne’s cultural profile, both locally and globally.  

At the Arts and Culture Roundtable February 2017 hosted by RMIT University, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Vice President College of Design and Social Context, Professor Paul Gough spoke about the need for affordable public spaces for artists and designers to both live and work, as well as the importance of forging productive relationships between our arts institutions.

While the lively discussion centered on strengthening collaboration across the arts precincts, Executive Director, Development and Audience Engagement of Arts Centre Melbourne, Sarah Hunt updated the group about some preliminary outcomes of the pilot ‘Visitor Hub’ at Hamer Hall.

The roundtable included updates on strategic thinking from Arup Principal Andrew Nicol and CEO of Melbourne Recital Centre, Euan Murdoch. 

Arts and Culture Roundtable December 2016

At the Arts and Culture Roundtable December 2016, two reports were tabled which looked at ways of boosting Melbourne’s visitability and status as an Arts and Culture capital

  • The Melbourne Recital Centre’s paper highlighted the need to build strong visual and physical connectivity between the arts precincts and supporting amenities such as cafes and bars. Ideas suggested included: utilising street furniture, street art, and digital signage to market arts areas.
  • Arup’s report focused on identifying and developing bold and stimulating buildings and spaces to attract the next generation of creative innovators.

The Arts and Culture Roundtable will develop these ideas further in the New Year. 

Global Indigenous Management representatives, Tina Waru and Alicia Matene gave a presentation to the group about the ‘Indigenous Runway’ project that is nurturing the next generation of young Indigenous artists. The project is an excellent example of an enterprising organisation doing innovative work to encourage entrepreneurship and opportunities for employment of Indigenous artists. It aligns well with one of the key aims of Victoria’s First Creative Industries Strategy 2016-2020.   

Our second arts and culture roundtable for 2016 took place on 22 September, hosted by Arup.

This meeting discussed and prioritised the six recommendations made at the 3 August meeting. Committee for Melbourne CEO Martine Letts led the rich discussion and identified champions to address some of the achievable action items. These champions are due to report back to the broader group at the final meeting for this year, on 23 November.

Themes and ideas to emerge from the discussion included:

  • Melbourne is home to world-class performing arts organisations, design including games, food and wine. We must make this front and centre of how we tell the Melbourne story to the world
  • On any given day of the year, a range of performances occur around Melbourne. The same cannot be said for sporting events. We need to market the idea of a ’24 hour’ city for arts, culture and design
  • An app should be developed as a central repository of information, helping guide the visitor to their next destination
  • Arts and sport do not need to be mutually exclusive. We should leverage and cross-market one another such as elevating stadiums as places for arts and culture, and establishing better connectivity between these precincts.  

Andrew Abbott, Deputy Secretary of Creative Victoria was the guest speaker at our Arts and Culture Roundtable, hosted by Victorian Opera on 3 August 2016.

To an audience representing most of Melbourne’s arts organisations, Andrew provided background on Creative Victoria's Creative Industries Strategy designed to grow the creative industries of arts, culture, screen and design. He outlined how the 40 actions and $115 million new investment could grow economic and social impact. He also indicated that it is the government’s intention to commission a piece of work to identify how Melbourne stands globally as a cultural capital and what is missing from our current offerings in both infrastructure and programming.  

Martine Letts, Committee for Melbourne CEO, led the rich discussion about 'what’s needed to make Melbourne a world-class cultural destination?'.

Our current work

  • Arts and Culture Roundtable
  • Enabling creativity in Melbourne working group
  • Free Tram zone Extension submission

Past events and projects

  • Free Tram Zone

How can you get involved?

As a member of the Committee for Melbourne, you can contribute your and your organisation's knowledge and insight to the various taskforces that are addressing the Strategic Needs.

To register your interest to participate in our taskforces, please email our team at

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