A message from our CEO

Our CEO, Fiona Menzies shares our highlights and milestones from the 2020-21 annual report.


At the time of writing my last Annual Report message, the pandemic had only just set in. The impact on the arts sector of restrictions and lockdowns was felt immediately, but we didn’t know how long it would last and what the longer-term impact would be.

Twelve months on, the arts sector has survived with substantial Government assistance, and the individuals within it have demonstrated how resilient they are, many having to deal with lengthy and multiple lockdowns, and ongoing restrictions affecting their ability to make a living and to share their work in person.

While the sector has swiftly adjusted to the digital world, there is still nothing that replaces the collective experience of live performance (for both performers and audiences). Seeing a work of art on a screen is simply not the same as seeing it in person, as you lose scale, texture and context. It has also been heartening to see that audiences and supporters have stood by artists and the arts sector throughout the pandemic.

Creative Partnerships Australia has worked closely with the arts sector over the last 18 months, adjusting our programs to meet the needs of a sector in crisis. Participants in our matched funding programs, Plus1 and MATCH Lab, needed to reassess their fundraising strategies, many of which relied on events that were no longer able to take place. With amended timelines and advice from our Programs Team and State Managers, alongside their own adaptability and hard work, participants in these programs were able to achieve their goals in the hardest of times.

Like others, Creative Partnerships shifted our program of events online where possible and adjusted them for the online environment. We continued to deliver our Fundamentals of Arts Fundraising workshops online and added the Knowledge Series, covering a range of topics to stimulate new ideas for fundraisers in the sector, as well as presenting some one-off webinars on topics such as the ethics of arts partnerships, which cannot be ignored. Meanwhile, our mentoring program, LIFT, had a specific focus on managing change as a result of the pandemic, and we will report on this next year.

The survey for our next Giving Attitude report took place during this year, capturing the early part of the pandemic. The report will be released in late 2021 and will show both the financial impact and the impact on priorities and confidence across all part of the arts and cultural sector. This report will provide evidence that will enable organisations to make decisions about their fundraising priorities and to identify best practice, as well as tracking trends over time.

Although there is some evidence that giving across all cause areas is declining, we were thrilled to be able to facilitate donations of $4.4 million to artists’ fundraising campaigns through the Australian Cultural Fund. This continues to grow as a valuable tool for artists who want to attract philanthropic support for their work, in addition to government support and earned income.

Each year we host the Creative Partnerships Awards to recognise and celebrate the contribution of businesses and donors to the arts. While this year the Awards ceremony had to be modified to comply with COVID-19 restrictions, we were grateful to be able to hold an event for a limited audience of 50 people at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, with generous assistance from Arts Centre Melbourne. It was pouring with rain, but the atmosphere was electric, and we were grateful that Minister Fletcher was able to join us for this occasion.

My thanks go to Creative Partnerships’ dedicated staff for the way they got on with the job with good cheer and creative thinking, in order to provide the best possible programs and services to the arts and cultural sector as the pandemic continued well beyond our expectations. They have shown great care and concern for each other and for our sector colleagues. Thank you also to Directors who have supported me through this difficult year, I have appreciated your counsel, wisdom and confidence. Creative Partnerships also works closely with the Office for the Arts and we appreciate its support and the ongoing support of our Minister, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, and his office.

If there is one thing that the pandemic has confirmed, it is that Australians of all ages and all backgrounds in communities across the country engage with the arts and culture, through music, screen, reading and much more. Australians have gained a new appreciation of the value artists and those in the creative industries bring to our world. Creative Partnerships will continue to play our part in supporting this sector and encouraging others to do the same.

Fiona Menzies

Read our annual report 2020-21 (PDF)  or read a summary of our achievements.