Devastation from Cyclone Ralph
Are you an artist making less than $20,000 a year from your arts practice, or not making a profit from your art in three out of five years? Once the new tax regime comes into effect, for income tax purposes artists may no longer be able to claim their arts related expenses against the other income they earn. Since late in 1999, the National Association for the Visual Arts has been making representations to politicians about the projected impact on the visual arts sector of the recommendations of the Ralph Review of Business Taxation. This review was established to investigate ways to stop people from making unjustified tax claims eg hobby farmers. However, NAVA realised that it would inadvertently sweep up artists along with the tax cheats.
Just before Easter, the New Business Tax System (Integrity Measures) Bill 2000 was introduced into parliament, incorporating the recommendations resulting from the review. For income tax purposes, this legislation makes it virtually impossible for a high percentage of artists to claim their arts enterprise expenses against other forms of income.
Currently, the new legislation requires that a claimant must pass one of four tests:
" the amount of assessable income from the business ( read art) activity must be at least $20,000, or
" in 3 out of 5 years deductions must be less than income, or
" the value of assets used to carry out the activity on a continuous basis (the art practice) must be at least $100,000, or
" interest in real property (eg studio, workshop, office but not a private dwelling etc) must be at least $500,000.
The only exemption provided is "if the activity is a primary production business" and the assessable income from other sources is less than $40,000. This is designed to help small farmers who are struggling to survive and maintain their enterprises. Because most professional practising artists are in a similarly precarious position, it would seem obvious that such an exemption also should apply to them. NAVA has been lobbying intensively to gain this exemption.
For artists who do not meet any of the criteria, the only other avenue is to request the Tax Commissioner to exercise his discretion. He would have to be provided with objective evidence which could convince him that the activities "will produce assessable income greater than the related deductions within a period that is commercially viable for the industry". If every artist had to do this on a continuing basis, it would be another unnecessary heavy burden for artists and create chaos for the Tax Office.
NAVA is also seeking a public ruling by the ATO formalising a previous understanding with NAVA and Arts Law which uses arts industry criteria for the purposes of assessing whether artists are "in business" or are "hobbyists". This understanding was successfully brokered with the ATO two years ago but it is in danger of being eclipsed by this legislation. Because the criteria are quite generic, it would be a relatively simple matter for them to be extended to cover all artforms.
NAVA argues that without these changes, many artists' production costs will rise significantly, and the impact will be exacerbated if their assessable income is pushed into a higher tax bracket (say over $20,000).
The other unacceptable implication is that by not having their arts practice recognised under these conditions, artists will be relegated to the status of hobbyists or persons engaged in a private recreational pursuit. This would be a real indictment of Australia's attitude to its cultural producers.
Given the promises by government to address the financial woes of the major performing arts companies as a result of the Nugent Inquiry, it does not seem unreasonable for the rest of the arts sector to look to the government for similar consideration. Changes to tax legislation could be a very fair and equitable way of ensuring that all artists are given some small amount of direct support according to their needs.
Write and email the Treasurer Peter Costello with a copy to the Arts Minister Richard Alston to let them know your concerns. You also should write to Simon Crean, Labor's Shadow Treasurer with a copy to Duncan Kerr, Shadow Arts Minister. It is equally important to write to the Democrats' Meg Lees and Aden Ridgeway and Greens Senator Bob Brown.
addresses on NAVA web site :
" and another thing! in relation to the GST, a major disadvantage to artists is the fact that the secondary art market (eg auction houses) will not be subject to the same GST regulations as the primary market. If an individual wants to sell their artworks on the open market there is no GST payable, whereas sales by artists through galleries, if they register are subject to GST.

" Down but not out
A well-attended panel discussiuon and forum was called on the 3rd of May by 200 Gertrude Street to discuss the Future of the Melbourne International Biennial. Patricia Piccinini, David Rosetzy and Claire Williamson spoke as well as Lesley Alway, Director of Arts Victoria and Alison Fraser, Manager, Cultural Development, the City of Melbourne. Both organisations, which were involved in the last MIB, are keen for an international art event to continue in Melbourne but the Ian Potter Gallery (University of Melbourne) has pulled out, so financial and management matters are being examined for an event in 2002.
" Public Art, Adelaide
Earlier this year South Australia's Art for Public Places Program looked like being devolved from the government's Arts SA to the membership organisation CraftSouth. On April 17th a meeting was held at which the ability of CraftSouth to successfully manage large-scale public art commissions was examined; the loss of a direct connection with government was also seen as reducing the credibility of the Public Art program. The result of the meeting is that the devolution proposal has been put on hold for three months while a discussion paper is prepared by Noel Frankham and Gini Lee, respectively Head of the South Australian School of Art and Acting Head of the Louis Laybourne Smith School of Architecture and Design at the University of South Australia.
" The Queensland Art Gallery is getting a new Gallery of Modern Art which is expected to open in late 2004 on South Bank and will double the size of the existing museum. It will be showcasing the modern and contemporary collections of the QAG including Australian, Indigenous, international and Asia-Pacific art. There will be an international architectural competition to design the new building.

" Sydney Biennale 26 May to 30 July 2000
The theme of this year's Biennale of Sydney, is outstanding artists who have made a significant impact over the last two decades, eg Yoko Ono, Cai Guo-Qiang, Sophie Calle, Jeff Wall, Bill Henson, Mariko Mori, Bruce Nauman, Ginger Riley, Louise Bourgeois, Gillian Wearing. The selection of around 50 artists was made by a group of high-profile international curators from Europe, America and Japan, some of whom, as it turned out, were just too busy to get to Sydney for the opening on 26 May. The two main venues are the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Gallery of NSW with 22 and 21 artists respectively, while Artspace is showing a group of 5 Biennale artists. Object Galleries has a Rosalie Gascoigne show and Fiona Hall has made a garden titled Gene Pool on the site of the old tennis court in the Government House grounds addressing the relationships of five families of plants across the antipodes and India, until 30 July.
Other exhibitions around Sydney have affiliated or satellite status, including a comprehensive survey of Rosemary Laing's work Gradience at the Australian Centre for Photography. Cheo Chai-Hiang is on at Casula Powerhouse with a neon installation as well as performances by the Singapore Street Opera Performers (see book review p.75 this issue)
Six artists, including Adrienne Doig and John Gillies, who use video installation and live performance are on at the Performance Space until 29 July.
" SALA Week 2000
The third SALA (South Australian Living Artists) Week will involve more than 100 visual art exhibitions, a series of screen culture events in hotels, department store windows and in the Lion Arts Centre and many other events all over the state. In 2000 SALA Week is making Port Pirie a focus of attention and plans are underway for several chartered buses to drive to Port Pirie for an Artists' BBQ. The Week will start with the launch of a book on the work of Annette Bezor. August 6 -13
" Melbourne Art Fair 2000 will be held at the Royal Exhibition building in Carlton. Sixteen international and fifty two Australian galleries are participating and featured artists are Melinda Harper, Robert Rooney, Ildiko Kovacs, John Kelly and Ronnie Tjampitjinpa. The art fair, always an exciting event, will be given an extra boost by the large number of galleries from Asia including John Batten from Hong Kong, and the Red Gate Gallery from Beijing as well as several from Japan and Korea. 4 - 8 October.
" ISEA2000 Revelation: the 10th International Symposium on Electronic Art will be held in Paris in December 2000. Themes are digital art, interactivity and generactivity and new arenas of revelation. www.

Fluxus in Germany 1962 - 1994: a long story with many knots, curated by Rene Block and Gabriele Knapstein, including work by Joseph Beuys, John Cage, Nam June Paik and Yoko Ono. Storey Hall, RMIT, 9 May - 15 July
Papunya Tula: Genesis & Genius is a major exhibition tracing the phenomenon of the Papuya Tula movement from the early 1970s to the present. It is part of the Cultural Olympiad and will run at the Art Gallery of NSW 18 August - 12 November
From the studio of Rosalie Gascoigne a fascinating exhibition curated by Mary Eagle, includes a major series never publicly displayed, two works in progress, a group of mementoes and studies and some fragile works that have been stored for a long time. Drill Hall Gallery, Canberra, 31 August - 8 October
Sebastian: contemporary Realist painting suggests that, if you oppose realist painting to the orthodoxy of anti-aesthetics and grunge, it is now the avant-garde. Curated by Alison Kubler, Gold Coast City Art Gallery, touring through 2000/2001 to Sutherland, Orange and Noosa Regional Galleries, and more.
Circling the Square from Adelaide's Gray Street Workshop this stunning exhibition first shown in Adelaide during the 2000 Festival, emphasizes the work methods of the artists, the way ideas are developed and metamorphosed. Gray Street is celebrating 15 years of making jewellery and objects, public design and sculpture. A catalogue with essays by Anne Brennan and Julie Ewington accompanies the show. Object Galleries 26 July - 1 October and touring nationally.
Within the Walls; Theresienstadt Ghetto 1941-1945 is an exhibition developed by the Sydney Jewish Museum about the Theresienstadt Ghetto near Prague. The exhibition includes objects brought to Australia and treasured by survivors for more than half a century. It highlights the extraordinary cultural life that flourished in the ghetto. Old Parliament House, Canberra until 30 July
Darkness and Light: looking at the landscape, an exhibition curated by Simeon Kronenberg of the McClellan Gallery and Ngahiraka Mason from the Auckland Art gallery Toi o Tamaki, brings together works by Australian and New Zealand artists: Laurence Aberhart, Peter Booth, Andrew Browne, Shane Cotton, Carolyn Fels, Jennifer French, W.D. (Bill) Hammond, Louise Hearman, Bill Henson, Philip Hunter, John Lyall, Freddie Timms and Brendon Wilkinson. The curators say that they are not looking at landscape as a genre but for its contemporary meaning.
The Designs of Frank Bauer - an overview 1975-2000 is a welcome retrospective of the work of this inventive and subtle jeweller/lighting designer/artist curated for the JamFactory by Margot Osborne and the first survey of an SA designer to be launched at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. 3 August - 15 October for Design Week, returning to JamFactory, Adelaide 4 November - 24 December.
A comprehensive exhibition of the work of Nora Heysen will be shown at the National Library of Australia from 26 October.
The New Republics is a critique of European power of yesteryear through a study of Canada, South Africa and Australia. Curated by Sunil Gupta and organised jointly by ACCA in Melbourne and OVA in London. Canberra School of Art Gallery, 14 July - 19 August.
Island Crossing is an exhibition of work by New Zealand Maori artists, July Global Arts Link, Ipswich, Queensland
Pets, Prey and Predators curated by Victoria Hammond is a curious linking of artists and ideas on introduced animals in recent Australian Art. The artists are Ian Abdullah, Rick Amor, Joyce Evans, David Keeling, John Kelly, Janet Laurence, Noel McKenna, Michael McWilliams, Yvonne Rees-Pagh, William Robinson, Deborah Russell, Long Tom Tjapangka and Jane Trengrove; touring through 2000 to Bathurst, Logan, Toowoomba and Grafton Regional Art Galleries

Drive-in art
A novel approach to presenting new media /installation works was Drive-by presented by Imago Multimedia Centre in Perth in April. Drawing on the limited attention spans engendered by channel flicking and web surfing the project took tourist gawking to new heights by installing works by seven new media artist working collaboratively with practitioners from other disciplines to produce seven new works projected in shop windows at high volume traffic nodes around Perth. You didn't have to get out of your car nor did you have to visit each site over the two week exhibition period as each work rotated between the seven locations nightly.
alchemy, ANAT's international masterclass for New Media artists and curators went for five weeks from 8 May to 9 June in association with the new Powerhouse Live Arts Complex in Brisbane.
24HR Art celebrated its 10th anniversary in April with re-site, an exhibition curated by Jackie Wurm.
Wired three times Neil Taylor showed work at three venues in Victoria at the same time in April: Niagara Galleries in Punt Road, Richmond, a permanent but changing work at Coliban Farm, and a permanent work newly installed by the Holly Hedge near the Kitchen Garden at Heide.
Requiem, a video installation and web site by Dennis del Favero and Tony Macgregor and Cross Currents a video installation and CD-Rom by Dennis Del Favero was shown at John Curtin Gallery in April/May. Requiem is a multimedia project which was developed in Graz, Austria. Cross Currents was developed at ZKM Centre for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany as the first in the "Produced @ZKM" installation and CD-rom series.

ArtSource: the Artists Agency in Perth is now on-line at Each time the home page is accessed, it features different examples of work by Western Australian artists. The site provides information on public art including a comprehensive section on funding sources for public art and examples of current projects.
giant dog of Darebin: FIDO (Fairfield Industrial Dog Object) was launched in March at the Fairfield Community Centre. The dog will talk, wag its tail and ears and light up at night. Somehow resembling the Trojan Horse, FIDO is a triumph for public art.
IASKA is a contemporary art laboratory situated midway between Perth and Kalgoorlie in Kellerberrin. The establishment of a gallery, studio and living quarters in this remote settlement light the way to rural and cultural regeneration in other parts of Australia. Three months residencies for Australian artists and artists from Italy, Germany , Japan and Switzerland are underway.
country stuff
a new website on the Heidelberg School includes archival historical material.
A new network in the Hunter Valley shares information and connects artists in this region.
Signal is a new web site (from the Australia Council and ABC Online ) that includes a listing of arts events taking place in Australia with a particular focus on regional araes. To enter details of your event go to and follow the kink to broadcsat/tune in where you can input information about your event.
Designing Minds is a symposium to be held 21 - 22 July at the University of South Australia, brought to you by CraftSouth, the SA School of Art and the Louise Laybourne Smith School of Architecture and Design. Designer-makers, policy-makers and academics are invited to talk
Australians over there: from 12 April -29 May Lyndal Jones showed a new sound and video installation at Ikon Gallery in Birmingham. Also at Ikon was a major solo travelling show curated by Sunil Gupta of the work of Simryn Gill. Australian cow painter John Kelly showed paintings at l'espal in Le Mans, France from March to June 2000.

Festival of Melbourne 2001 Juliana Engberg will be returning to Melbourne to fulfil a long-standing commitment to curate the visual art program of the Melbourne and Federation Festival in 2001.
The Institute of Modern Art is 25 this year. Next year in April it is moving to purpose-designed galleries.
Gitte Weise Gallery has moved to 56 Sutherland Street, Paddington, Ph/Fax 02 9360 2659,
Arts SA has moved its offices to Hindley Street, Adelaide in the extraordinary West's Coffee Palace building, 108-112 Hindley Street, (08) 8463 5444
Dinah Dysart is rejoining Fine Arts Press as book editor; Neville Drury has left.
Sabina Wynn is the new Manager, Industry and Cultural Development at the Australian Film Commission replacing Kate Ingham.
Laura Van Haven is the new Manager of Visual Arts at Country Arts , SA.
John Barrett-Leonard has left John Curtin University Gallery to freelance.
Rachel Kent has moved from the Ian Potter Gallery to the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Vivonne Thwaites has left the Artspace at the Festival Centre and is going freelance. Her contribution to visual art in Adelaide over the last eleven years, has been wide-ranging, committed and subtle.
Benalla - a new building for Benalla Art Gallery opened on 13 June.
Ailsa Dewhurst, Adelaide-based artist has won an award at Talente2000 in Munich, Germnay.

" The Australian-based international art and technology e-zine, fineArt forum received $10,000 from the Australia Council under the New Media Arts Fund category. The money will be used to commission artists and writers. fineArt forum has four exhibitions planned for its online gallery this year and has a pro-active policy towards diversity of representation, especially avoidance of Eurocentrism and supports the Asia-Pacific region.
" Published by dLux media/arts Initialising history is a beautifully produced publication showcasing the prolific twenty-year career of Peter Callas in video.
" The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art (formerly the Australian Journal of Art) is now edited by Heather Johnson, Deborah Malor and Susan Steggall and published twice a year. The next conference to be held by the Art Association of Australia and New Zealand is on Rural/Regional Art and will be held in conjunction with and at the New England Regional Art Museum, Armidale 1-2 September 2000. 
" Beginning in April the long-standing national gallery guide Art Almanac has a competitor, same size, same price. It is called, for the ease of tourists, - Art Gallery Guide. Do we need two? Do they overlap? Bursting with colour and advertising this new publication looks user-friendly for strangers in town and daytrippers but over-fussy for those who just want to know what's on.
" The Institute of Modern Art's latest publication is Now: Emerging artists in Queensland. Essays by Anne Donohue and Simon Tait cover the scene in Townsville and in Cairns.
" A special issue of artwork, the Community Arts Network SA Inc magazine covers the October 1999 National Art and Community conference of 700 delegates. A new on-line forum on Community Cultural Development connects workers in this field. A digest is provided each Monday to summarise the discussion from the previous week.
" A new CD-ROM edited by Helen Grace on the subject of contemporary art and artists' groupings in Australia, focuses on Sydney from 1956 to 1990.
The rom is an assemblage of documents, images, video clips, interviews, random dates, references and links, an archive of ephemera. Entitled Before Utopia: a non-official history of the present it is the first volume in the Pluto Press series Media.Culture edited by Mc Kenzie Wark.