Degraded and demoralised: the arts companies left behind – Limelight Magazine

In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has shut down performances across the country, the news that innovative new music group Ensemble Offspring would not be receiving support through the Australia Council for the Arts’ Four Year Funding for Organisations program was a blow for Artistic Director Claire Edwardes. “We are absolutely devastated,” she tells Limelight.

The Australia Council’s announcement revealed 95 organisations receiving funding for the years 2021-2024, well down from the 128 organisations listed in the 2016 round – which was itself dubbed Black Friday for the 62 organisations who lost their funding that year. With the industry having essentially been ground to a halt by the COVID-19 crisis, the Australia Council has reduced the new cohort’s first year of funding to 70% in order to offer the 49 newly unfunded organisations an extension of one year’s funding, also at a reduced a reduced rate of approximately 70%. The list of companies whose funding will come to an end after this extension period includes the Art Gallery of South Australia, Australian Book Review, Australian Theatre for Young People, Barking Gecko Theatre Company, Melbourne’s La Mama Theatre, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, Queensland Art Gallery, Sydney Writers’ Festival, The Song Company and more.

Ensemble Offspring Artistic Director Claire Edwardes performing at Kontiki Racket in 2019. Photo © Christopher Hayles

Less than a month ago, Ensemble Offspring was honoured with a prestigious Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award, so the loss of funding came as a surprise. “To be honest it was pretty unexpected based on the feedback we had been getting from both funding bodies and audiences in recent times,” Edwardes says. “We should have prepared ourselves better given these funding rounds are indeed a lottery. There is simply not enough funding to go around so the peers are forced into what must be an awful situation whereby they have to choose between different forms and modes of excellence. It is really hard – for everyone.”

The loss of funding means Ensemble Offspring will have to completely change the way it operates. “We had grown administratively and our program had also strengthened in the past four years with our last round of successful funding – we even had an office! So all of that will have to be reviewed. Our programs for emerging artists (including Hatched Academy) as well as our Kontiki Racket Festival, which we had planned to make annual, will be the hardest hit as much of our core funding was funnelled into those initiatives. We will obviously work very hard to find money elsewhere but it is a big hit to our program to suddenly not have that ongoing national government support.”

Like all of the organisations who will no longer be on Four Year funding, Ensemble Offspring will benefit from the contract extension. “It is obviously better than being defunded from the end of 2020,” Edwardes says. “That said, due to COVID-19 I think the Australia Council realised that if there was no transitional funding supplied we would all be in a situation whereby none of our 2020 programs could be realised, and that is just too depressing for words. So this transitional funding definitely brings some respite.”

For Edwardes, the cuts don’t bode well for the sector. “The sheer fact that only one NSW music organisation was funded [New Musicals Australia & Hayes Theatre Co, one of 28 organisations new to the Four Year funding program] is a death knell for NSW music making,” Edwardes says. “The other slightly alarming statistic on the successful music organisations was the lack of female leadership among them – especially given Ensemble Offspring’s work on gender equity in music, this is particularly disappointing. Our national service body, the Australian Music Centre, was successful, which is just great for Australia composers, but the fact remains that if there are virtually no actual ensembles funded to perform the music of these living composers there is a big gap. The ecosystem in NSW is now broken and an investment from the state will be more important than ever now to keep new music making alive in NSW.”

Another company to lose its funding was The Song Company, which was in danger of folding last year before the intervention of a significant donor. “The Song Company is Australia’s only national professional vocal ensemble, so to lose federal government funding on this scale is a real kick in the teeth,” Artistic Director Antony Pitts tells Limelight. “However, we knew some time ago that we weren’t even being considered for this funding round after our Expression of Interest was rejected, so we had already come to terms with the blow and have been planning accordingly. Essentially, we had our major existential crisis a year before those other ensembles who are now feeling the shock. We have already developed, and are working to, a new strategic model that takes into account this level of setback. But at the same time we totally share their pain and incredulity!”

The Song Company’s most recent success was its performance at the Adelaide Festival as part of the 150 Psalms event, performing alongside international ensembles including The Tallis Scholars – an undertaking that would simply not be possible without major financial input, Pitts says. “Without a serious reconsideration of federal support for the small-to-medium arts sector, we won’t be able to tour nationally as regularly over the coming years,” he explains. “Simply put, we will be unable confidently to plan national tours without new support from state and local agencies to make up for the lack of federal funding. On the plus side, this means engaging with local communities more to build audiences in each centre and over the longer-term could make our new touring model more sustainable.”

“The Arts funding arena is already so ridiculously competitive and the small-to-medium organisations – i.e. the ones that are actually doing new and original work – are already unfairly weighted against,” Pitts says. “Australia’s geography makes any kind of national arts activity extremely costly, which is why the Federal Government needs to support the arts wholeheartedly and substantially.”

For Pitts, private philanthropy can’t be expected to make up the difference, and he sees the lack of a titled Department of the Arts and fully-focused role of Arts Minister (Paul Fletcher is Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts) as “a fundamental part of the problem at a national level”.

“We rely partly, but very significantly, on government funding to fulfil our mission to create, educate, and collaborate: music-making at a world-class level and immersive mentoring of the next generation of Australian singers,” Pitts says. “I just hope we can do just that.”

The cuts have hit the youth arts sector particularly hard, with Gondwana Choirs – who lost their multi-year funding in the 2016 Black Friday round – missing out again this round. “We were incredibly disappointed,” Executive Director Bernie Heard tells Limelight. “We had put a significant amount of resources and effort into the application. Getting through the EOI and then to the final stage is a large body of work that involves everyone from the board right through the whole senior management team and the rest of the team. We really gave it our full effort.”

Gerib Sik and the Gondwana Indigenous Choir at the Gondwana World Choral Festival. Photo © Robert Catto

“Since losing the Australia Council multi-year funding in 2016, we’ve had extremely limited government support. We are grateful to receive multi-year funding through Create NSW,” says Heard, who puts overall government funding at about eight percent of the organisation’s income each year. “That has meant that the organisation has had to work extremely hard to diversify our income. We work extremely hard to receive project funding through private donations, through trusts and foundations, and we’ve worked to increase our corporate support – that is an increasingly difficult market to be in, and certainly now with COVID-19 as it is. I guess we are more vulnerable to the impact of the shut downs on the industry because we are so much more reliant on corporate and private funds.”

Gondwana Choirs regularly commissions new works by Australian and international composers, and last year launched the first Gondwana World Choral Festival. “We certainly don’t want to change the way that we’re presenting new work, but it is increasingly difficult to provide the resources and the framework within our operations team and our administration to present these projects when we’re continuing to be stretched within our team,” Heard says. “I’m concerned about what this means for the future of the organisation.”

The results of this funding round leave Heard concerned for the arts sector as a whole, but also the youth arts sector. “There’s been continued reduction in support for youth arts organisations,” she says. “But I’m also concerned for the music sector as well.”

Many of the organisations who have missed out on funding, like Ensemble Offspring and Pinchgut Opera, feed into the larger arts community. “We’re all part of the ecosystem, which includes the major organisations who engage us to collaborate with them,” Heard says. “We train their professional artists and provide training for the composers who work with them. But we also provide employment to a whole range of artists and composers as well – we have a number of artists who work for us on salary, but we work with up to 90 independent artists in projects and ongoing programs throughout the year.”

Another youth arts company losing its funding is Australian Theatre for Young People. “It’s an extraordinary decision,” ATYP’s Artistic Director Fraser Corfield tells Limelight. “It’s very hard to take in, that one.”

The company is already looking at ways to move forward. “One of the things that’s quite extraordinary about it is that it’s been really difficult for the arts in general, since Brandis’s intervention into arts funding and the upheaval that that has caused the whole of the arts sector, and the youth arts sector in particular,” he says.

For ATYP this is exacerbated by the fact that the organisation is between venues, while its new home – alongside Bell Shakespeare and the Australian Chamber Orchestra – is built on Sydney’s Pier 2/3. The company will move in the year that it loses its Australia Council funding. “So it has serious potential consequences for us, depending on what kind of solutions we can find,” Corfield says.

While Corfield describes ATYP as “an extraordinarily resilient company” – which, he says, has been working hard to meet the new reality of delivering workshops and other offerings online –  “there’s no doubt that it’s challenging on morale, and it’s devastating for the whole of the arts sector.”

“Australian Theatre for Young People I think is very clearly recognised as an essential part of the theatre ecology in Australia,” Corfield says. “We’re the largest investor in playwriting and commissions of new work, we are the larger investor in the development of emerging playwrights, and most of the playwrights that have emerged into our professional companies over the last decade have come through ATYP’s programs, or have certainly been touched by them. Young artists from very young ages step off ATYP stages and workshops and straight into leading professional productions, film and television. So ATYP is recognised as a very important component of the wider industry. So for this to impact us in the way it has, reflects that there is significant challenges that are industry wide.”

These challenges are part of an escalating crisis in the arts. “What we’re seeing is this ongoing contraction, and it’s hit a point that is now critical,” Corfield says. “I started working in youth arts in 2001. In 2007 there were 21 federally funded youth theatre companies. As a result of this funding round there’ll be three. With the constant reduction in funded companies is a constant reduction in opportunities for paid work, to keep professional artists moving. We’re already at a point where the industry is in a really critical phase. Unless there can be found some way of providing new opportunities for some of our key organisations, it’s difficult to see how the arts will be a sustainable industry in the years going forward.”

The survival of youth arts organisations is a concern shared by the National Advocates for Arts Education, which is calling for a significant increase in the Australia Council’s budget – as part of a set of stimulus measures proposed by an alliance of organisations across the industry – to save Australia’s arts industry from collapse. “The arts funding cuts represent a grave loss to the cultural lives of young Australians in metropolitan, regional and remote Australia,” said NAAE Chair John Nicholas Saunders in a statement. “Arts organisations play a significant role in the education sector, through the vast range of exceptional education and community programs they offer, as well as professional development opportunities for teachers. The funding cuts will significantly reduce these opportunities, as the future of many of the companies that were unsuccessful in receiving Four Year funding is now in serious jeopardy.”

“Youth arts investment has been decimated, damaging career pathways,” he said. “NAAE has great concerns about the impact on arts education and young people who are seeking to work in the arts industry.”

Christopher Lowrey in Pinchgut Opera’s Farnace. Photograph © Brett Boardman

It’s not just the companies losing funding who are suffering – other organisations have poured significant resources into the application process only to have it come to nothing. One organisation hoping to receive Four Year funding for the first time in this round was innovative period opera company Pinchgut Opera, who just last year won the Rediscovered Work category at the International Opera Awards for their production of Adolph Hasse’s Artaserse. “We are all disappointed as we felt that the application was really strong,” Helyard tells Limelight. “We were hoping multi-year funding would allow us to build on our growing international reputation, with invitations for collaborations in England and France, as well as solidify and expand our national profile beyond Sydney. We have always been small but we’re all continually working beyond capacity. Funding can alleviate that and helps us grow employment and performance opportunities for artists, in addition to increasing our audience reach.”

“We have never received multi-year state or federal government support, so in many respects this leaves us where we left off,” he says. “Committed and passionate is what Pinchgut is all about! We rely on our supporters and our audiences for income and as our capacity to perform has been squashed by the pandemic, our box office has been put completely put on hold. I think the hardest thing going forward for the entire sector is the uncertainty about timelines regarding the restrictions around mass gatherings and forecasting when audiences will feel safe to return to theatres.”

As for what this funding round means for the arts sector, “I think the goals of multi-year funding have radically changed recently, partly in response to COVID-19 but also partly in response to a shift in federal arts policy,” Helyard says. “That change has left a lot of companies like Pinchgut stranded. Certainly it will put stress on an already degraded and demoralised sector. I congratulate those who have received funding and commiserate with those that have lost funding or missed out entirely like us.”

Even amongst the organisations who have received Four Year funding, there is a sense of deep concern for the industry. “We are very sorry to see many valued friends and partners lose their funding at this critical time, and add our voice to the calls for additional government support for the arts,” said Multicultural Arts Victoria in a statement. “The creative industries are an interconnected, dynamic system of cultural production and consumption. If we weaken its parts, we weaken the whole.”

The Australian Music Centre also released a statement from its board and team in the wake of the announcement that it was successful in its bid for funding. “While we are relieved and excited, this news is also bittersweet. We acknowledge with great regret that our welcome news is not necessarily matched for other friends, colleagues and organisations across the country,” the statement said.

The AMC has pledged to act immediately in support of its community by announcing $10,000 of commissions, including two Peggy Glanville-Hicks Addresses to take place in 2020 instead of one, and eight commissions of online content from artists, ensembles or organisations. The AMC is also donating $25,000 from its reserves to the industry relief charity Support Act.

“We understand the responsibility that our good fortune entails,” the AMC said.

Virtual entertainment and resources while you stay in – ABC News

With venues closed and while we’re all staying in and isolating – we’ve put together a list of free resources and activities that our various arts and cultural organisations are doing to continue to engage and connect with their audiences and communities. Including resources from across Regional Victoria.

ABC Education

The ABC Education website features a huge selection of curriculum-linked resources for primary and secondary students.

ACMI Virtual Cinémathèque

A weekly movie night from the comfort of your own home.

Arts Centre Melbourne, Together with you#ACMwithyou

A series of free performance broadcasts, family activities, interviews, podcasts and long-form articles. Featuring never-before-seen items from the Australian Performing Arts Collection and Australian Music Vault, virtual workshops, new commissions and documentaries, alongside some of our favourite performances.

Bendigo Venues & Events – from the Stage to the Sofa

Each week Creative Communities will feature a new program of online exhibitions, ‘What I did last week’ showing a variety of artistic expression of local artist, in the City of Greater Bendigo. Plus every night (Wed-Sun) at the same time, we present Play At Home, where local artists premiere short performance videos “live” to Bendigo Venue and Events Facebook Page.

Islamic Museum of Australia

In the lead up to Ramadan, the IMA continues to shares tips, inspiration and recipes across social media channels. Also on their social pages, the Museum will also take a retrospective look back at photographs from Boundless Plains – the journey Museum Founder Moustafa Fahour OAM and three others took in 2011, tracing the history of Muslims in Australia. Teachers and parents are encouraged to visit the Museum’s education portal for curriculum linked learning activities. Each week the Museum will share themed craft activities and resources to keep young minds active.

Melbourne International Comedy Festival – some light relief

A selection of the funniest comic sketches are previous festivals are featured online. Plus there’s Sammy J’s Brekkyfest, where he is joined by different comedians for a ‘mini Comedy Festival’ of their own to bring you some light and laughs.

Melbourne International Comedy Festival: Comedy Care Package on the ABC

Hosted by comedy legend Denise Scott, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival: Comedy Care Package features some of the best local acts from the ABC’s Festival broadcasts of the past few years, including Aaron Chen, Anne Edmonds, Becky Lucas, Cal Wilson, Dave Hughes, Frank Woodley, Kitty Flanagan, Nazeem Hussain, Steph Tisdell, Tom Gleeson, Urzila Carlson and many more. Airs on Sunday April 12th at 8:20 PM on ABC TV.

Melbourne Recital Centre – Recital Showcase

Watch a large collection of live performances including complete concerts from the Centre by Victorian, Australian and international artists free for everyone to enjoy online

MSO Keeps the Music going – Thursday Night (in)

Music lovers can join the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra online with live streaming of selected performances and concerts each Thursday evening at 7.30pm. This weeks is Rite of Spring – Stravinsky Doubel Bill. There’s lots online education resources for music loving students too.

Multicultural Arts Victoria – The EmergeD exhibition

Presented by Multicultural Arts Victoria’s Emerge Culture Hub Bendigo, the exhibition features the work of First Nations and ethnically diverse artists.

Museums Victoria – Museums at home

Engage and explore Melbourne Museum, Scienceworks and the Immigration Museum online with virtual tours, live events and lots to discover.

National Gallery of Victoria – #NGVEveryDay

The NGV online and social features virtual art tours and daily art inspiration. There’s also lots of creative learning opportunities for everyone.

Shrine of Remembrance

As well as live streaming of significant Services, the Shrine online has a number of videos and podcasts to enjoy.

State Library of Victoria

Visitors can keep exploring the world through State Library’s website, which is home to more than 4.1 million digital collection items, along with a treasure trove of stories, galleries, exhibition content, videos, music and more.

Zoos Victoria – Animal House: Bringing the Zoo to you #animals at home

Livestream cameras have been set up from Melbourne Zoo and Werribee Open Range Zoo, so you can enjoy the zoo from anywhere.
There’s snow leopard cubs, lions, giraffes, zebras, penguins and more.

Virtual entertainment and resources while you stay in – ABC News

With venues closed and while we’re all staying in and isolating – we’ve put together a list of free resources and activities that our various arts and cultural organisations are doing to continue to engage and connect with their audiences and communities. Including resources from across Regional Victoria.

ABC Education

The ABC Education website features a huge selection of curriculum-linked resources for primary and secondary students.

ACMI Virtual Cinémathèque

A weekly movie night from the comfort of your own home.

Arts Centre Melbourne, Together with you#ACMwithyou

A series of free performance broadcasts, family activities, interviews, podcasts and long-form articles. Featuring never-before-seen items from the Australian Performing Arts Collection and Australian Music Vault, virtual workshops, new commissions and documentaries, alongside some of our favourite performances.

Bendigo Venues & Events – from the Stage to the Sofa

Each week Creative Communities will feature a new program of online exhibitions, ‘What I did last week’ showing a variety of artistic expression of local artist, in the City of Greater Bendigo. Plus every night (Wed-Sun) at the same time, we present Play At Home, where local artists premiere short performance videos “live” to Bendigo Venue and Events Facebook Page.

Islamic Museum of Australia

In the lead up to Ramadan, the IMA continues to shares tips, inspiration and recipes across social media channels. Also on their social pages, the Museum will also take a retrospective look back at photographs from Boundless Plains – the journey Museum Founder Moustafa Fahour OAM and three others took in 2011, tracing the history of Muslims in Australia. Teachers and parents are encouraged to visit the Museum’s education portal for curriculum linked learning activities. Each week the Museum will share themed craft activities and resources to keep young minds active.

Melbourne International Comedy Festival – some light relief

A selection of the funniest comic sketches are previous festivals are featured online. Plus there’s Sammy J’s Brekkyfest, where he is joined by different comedians for a ‘mini Comedy Festival’ of their own to bring you some light and laughs.

Melbourne International Comedy Festival: Comedy Care Package on the ABC

Hosted by comedy legend Denise Scott, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival: Comedy Care Package features some of the best local acts from the ABC’s Festival broadcasts of the past few years, including Aaron Chen, Anne Edmonds, Becky Lucas, Cal Wilson, Dave Hughes, Frank Woodley, Kitty Flanagan, Nazeem Hussain, Steph Tisdell, Tom Gleeson, Urzila Carlson and many more. Airs on Sunday April 12th at 8:20 PM on ABC TV.

Melbourne Recital Centre – Recital Showcase

Watch a large collection of live performances including complete concerts from the Centre by Victorian, Australian and international artists free for everyone to enjoy online

MSO Keeps the Music going – Thursday Night (in)

Music lovers can join the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra online with live streaming of selected performances and concerts each Thursday evening at 7.30pm. This weeks is Rite of Spring – Stravinsky Doubel Bill. There’s lots online education resources for music loving students too.

Multicultural Arts Victoria – The EmergeD exhibition

Presented by Multicultural Arts Victoria’s Emerge Culture Hub Bendigo, the exhibition features the work of First Nations and ethnically diverse artists.

Museums Victoria – Museums at home

Engage and explore Melbourne Museum, Scienceworks and the Immigration Museum online with virtual tours, live events and lots to discover.

National Gallery of Victoria – #NGVEveryDay

The NGV online and social features virtual art tours and daily art inspiration. There’s also lots of creative learning opportunities for everyone.

Shrine of Remembrance

As well as live streaming of significant Services, the Shrine online has a number of videos and podcasts to enjoy.

State Library of Victoria

Visitors can keep exploring the world through State Library’s website, which is home to more than 4.1 million digital collection items, along with a treasure trove of stories, galleries, exhibition content, videos, music and more.

Zoos Victoria – Animal House: Bringing the Zoo to you #animals at home

Livestream cameras have been set up from Melbourne Zoo and Werribee Open Range Zoo, so you can enjoy the zoo from anywhere.
There’s snow leopard cubs, lions, giraffes, zebras, penguins and more.

Sector in shock as Australia Council 4-year funding announced – ArtsHub

As predicted, the list of organisations to have lost or been rejected for four-year funding due to the Australia Council’s constrained circumstances (with extant funding never fully restored following the Brandis raid in 2015) is significant.

Among them are companies and organisations such La Mama Theatre, St Martins, Polyglot Theatre, Australian Book Review, Liquid Architecture and the literary journal Overland in Victoria; The Blue Room Theatre and Barking Gecko in Western Australia; Restless Dance Theatre and Vitalstatistix in South Australia; Browns Mart Theatre and Tracks Dance Company in the Northern Territory; Tasdance in Tasmania; Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP), Ensemble Offspring, Sydney Review of Books, Shaun Parker & Company and Urban Theatre Projects in New South Wales; Australasian Dance Collective in Queensland, and peak body NAVA (National Association for the Visual Arts). 

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Many companies have yet to publicly comment on their lost funding, and the list of organisations that have lost funding is expected to grow significantly in the coming days.

In total, $31.7 million per annum in funding has been distributed through the revised Four Year Funding for Organisations program.

Among the 95 organisations to receive four-year funding are a number of highly deserving companies which receive four-year funding for the first time.

Australia Council CEO Adrian Collette AM said: ‘In the light of COVID-19, it has been essential to revise this round of Four Year Funding to provide support for the greatest possible number of small to medium arts organisations. This has involved increasing the program funding and the number of funded organisations. This is to enable as many as possible small to medium arts organisations to continue to operate, and to strengthen the long term sustainability of the arts sector and the many thousands of Australians it supports. 

‘However, achieving this and still supporting more organisations through 2021 requires the first year of FYF funding to be offered at a reduced level. This is not business as usual for anyone, and arts organisations also will need to adapt in order to weather these unprecedented times,’ he said in a statement.

TOUGH TRANSITIONS

The Australia Council will provide funding for 95 organisations (down from 128 in 2016) that were successful in the application process, including 28 organisations new to Four Year Funding from 2021- 2024.

Successful organisations’ first year of funding from 2021 will be at a reduced level (by approximately 70%) to enable more organisations to receive vital support through 2021.

Contract extensions of 12 months will be provided for 49 organisations that currently receive Four Year Funding 2017-2020 but were not successful for 2021-2024, providing additional time for them to recalibrate their organisations and make plans for the future.

This transition funding for 2021 will be at a reduced level (again, at approximately 70% of existing annual funding).

The Australia Council notes that of the successful applicants, 27% are based in regional or remote Australia and 20% identify First Nations peoples and communities as their primary demographic.

Council said it has supported organisations which are shifting towards self-determined leadership models, particularly in the First Nations, Disability and Cultural Diversity fields, which will enable authentic voices at all levels from grassroots to leadership (for example Warburton Youth Arts, Sharing Stories Foundation).

Council is also supporting writers across all stages of their careers and a broad range of genres, with an emphasis on ensuring that the publishing/writing sector is equipped to represent diverse literary voices both nationally and internationally (e.g. Magabala Books and the Emerging Writers’ Festival).

wHO WAS SUCCESSFUL?

The list of organisations confirmed to have received four-year funding is as follows:

ActNow Theatre for Social Change

Ananguku Arts & Cultural Aboriginal Corporation

Arnhem, Northern and Kimberley Artists Aboriginal Corporation (ANKA)

Artback NT Inc

Arts Access Society Inc

Arts House (City of Melbourne)

Artspace Visual Arts Centre Ltd

Asian Australian Artists Association Inc.

Australasian Performing Right Association Ltd (APRA)

Australian Art Orchestra Ltd

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art

Australian Children’s Performing Arts Company t/a Windmill

Australian Dance Theatre

Australian Music Centre Ltd

Australian Network for Art and Technology (ANAT)

Australian Publishers Association Ltd

Australian String Quartet Inc

Back to Back Theatre Inc

Barkly Regional Arts Inc

Biennale of Sydney Limited

BlakDance Australia Ltd

Brisbane Community Arts Centre Ltd

Broome Aboriginal Media Association Aboriginal Corporation

Cairns Indigenous Art Fair Limited

Canberra International Music Festival Ltd

Carriageworks

Chunky Move Ltd

Community Arts Network Western Australia Ltd

Contemporary Art Tasmania

Contemporary Asian Australian Performance Incorporated

Contemporary SA Incorporated trading as ACE Open

Corrugated Iron Youth Arts Inc

Craft ACT:Craft and Design Centre Inc

Crossroad Arts Inc

Curious Works

DADAA Ltd

Dance North (trading under North Queensland Ballet and Dance Company

Limited)

Dancehouse Incorporated

Darwin Community Arts Incorporated

Desart Inc

Design Tasmania Limited

Diversity Arts Australia (DARTS)

Eleanor Dark Foundation Ltd

Emerging Writers’ Festival Inc

First Nations Australia Writers Network

Firstdraft Incorporated

Footscray Community Arts Centre Ltd

Force Majeure

Gertrude Contemporary

Giramondo Publishing Company Pty Ltd

Griffin Theatre

Griffith Review

Ilbijerri Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Theatre Co-op

In The Pipeline (Arts) Ltd t/a New Musicals Australia & Hayes Theatre Co

Insite Arts International Pty Ltd ITF the Trustee for Insite Arts International

Unit Trust

Institute of Modern Art Limited

JamFactory Contemporary Craft & Design Inc

KickArts Contemporary Arts Limited

Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre Aboriginal Corporation –

KALACC

Koorie Heritage Trust Inc

La Boite Theatre Ltd

Lucy Guerin Association Inc

Magabala Books Aboriginal Corporation

Marrugeku Inc

Melbourne Electronic Sound Studio LTD

Melbourne Jazz Limited

Moogahlin Performing Arts Inc

Multicultural Arts Victoria Inc

MusicNT Inc

Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women s Council

Northern Rivers Performing Arts Inc

NT Writers Centre Inc

Outer Urban Projects Ltd

Patch Theatre Company Inc

Performing Lines Limited

Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts Ltd

Powerhouse Youth Theatre Inc (t/a PYT | Fairfield)

PVI Collective Ltd

Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation

Queensland Music Network Incorporated

Sharing Stories Foundation

Skinnyfish Music

Speak Percussion

Terrapin Puppet Theatre Ltd

The Performance Space Ltd

The Red Room Company Ltd

The Substation Inc

The Unconformity

Theatre Network Australia

Tura New Music Ltd

University of Queensland Press

Warburton Youth Arts Centre

Watch This Space Inc

Western Edge Youth Arts Inc

Yirra Yaakin Aboriginal Corporation

ORGANISATIONS TRANSITIONED OUT 

The full list of organisation that will no longer receive four-year funding after 2017-2020 but will receive transitional funding in 2021 is as follows:

Art Gallery of South Australia

Art Monthly Australia

Artlink Australia

Arts Access Australia Limited

Australian Book Review Inc

Australian Script Centre

Australian Theatre for Young People

Barking Gecko Theatre Company Ltd

Beyond Empathy Ltd

Board of the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory

Branch Nebula Incorporated

Brisbane Writers Festival Association Inc. t/a UPLIT

Brown’s Mart Arts Limited

Campbelltown Arts Centre (t/u Campbelltown City Council)

Canberra Glassworks Limited

Country Arts SA (South Australian Country Arts Trust)

Crafts Council of Victoria Ltd

Creative Recovery Network Inc

Cultural Development Network Limited

Electronic Music Conference

Ensemble Offspring

Expressions The Queensland Dance Theatre Ltd

Eyeline Publishing Ltd

Feral Arts Corp Ltd

HotHouse Theatre Limited

Information and Cultural Exchange Inc (ICE)

Kickstart Arts Inc

La Mama Inc (VIC)

Liquid Architecture Sound Inc

Museum of Contemporary Art Limited

O L Society Limited (literary journal Overland)

Performing Arts Centre Society Inc (The Blue Room Theatre)

PlayWriting Australia

Polyglot Theatre

Queensland Art Gallery

Restless Dance Theatre Inc

Salamanca Arts Centre Inc

Shaun Parker & Company Ltd

Shopfront Theatre for Young People Co-operative Ltd

Somebody’s Daughter Theatre Company Inc

St Martins Youth Arts Centre

Sydney Writers Festival Ltd

Tasdance Ltd

The Song Company Pty Ltd

Tracks Inc

Umi Arts Ltd

University of Western Sydney (Writing and Society Research Centre)

Urban Theatre Projects Ltd

West Space Incorporated

Exit interview: Joseph Mitchell, Artistic Director, OzAsia Festival – ArtsHub

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CaLD artists to be hit hard by coronavirus closures – ArtsHub

A survey, Lost Work for Artists and Creatives of Colour, has revealed the full impact of the COVID-19 crisis for culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) creatives in the Australian sector.

Launched by Diversity Arts Australia (DARTS) on Wednesday 18 March, the survey has received 163 responses as of COB on 23 March. The data shows that 91% of respondents are expecting to lose income over social distancing measures. 

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DARTS Executive Director Lena Nahlous said: ‘Artists and creatives of colour were already amongst the most marginal in our sector and now their situations are worsening due to COVID-19.

‘Data obtained in Diversity Arts Australia’s Lost Work for Artists and Creatives of Colour survey shows just how vulnerable our talented creatives are.’

Collectively, survey respondents speak over 29 different languages and 85% identified as CaLD, while 8% identified as First Nations, 17% as LGBTIQ+, and 9% as a person with disability.

MOST VULNERABLE IN OUR SECTOR 

The survey showed that respondents felt the impact of travel bans in particular, with many CaLD artists having close connections with creative communities overseas.

The survey also shows that artists and creative workers from refugee backgrounds, and migrants who are on bridging visas or not yet permanent residents or citizens – since they do not qualify for Centrelink and stimulus package benefits announced by the Federal Government – are at the highest risk of income uncertainty.

Veronica Pardo, CEO of Multicultural Arts Victoria (MAV), told ArtsHub, ‘At MAV, we are worried about the impacts of COVID-19 sector-wide, but particularly the compounding of disadvantage for those who are most vulnerable in our community: asylum seekers, newly arrived migrants and refugees, people with disability and people experiencing mental health issues.

‘We urge governments and agencies to ensure that support provisions are getting to these groups, by identifying existing and new barriers that may be getting in the way,’ she said.

Respondents to the DARTS survey also commented on the pandemic’s adverse effects on their mental health, with one responded saying: ‘I am now feeling despondent and unsure as to how to move forward when my graphic design work comes to a halt. I also suffer from depression and anxiety. I’m trying hard not to be affected psychologically but unsure as to how long I can keep this up, especially without an income.’

Support the supporters

DARTS is urgently calling on Federal and State Governments to ensure that measures which support the arts will include equity provisions for CaLD artists and creatives.

We support measures such as Live Performance Australia’s $850 million package. Similar measures will need to be implemented across all creative sectors, including screen, visual arts and writing,’ said Nahlous. 

She also called on governments to ‘support the supporters’.

‘That is, to support those arts companies that advocate for marginalised and underrepresented creative workers. Dedicated funding streams must be distributed through relevant peak bodies and organisations who are connected with the affected creative workers such as Diversity Arts, Multicultural Arts Victoria, CANWA, regional arts organisations, Aboriginal arts organisations and Disability arts organisations,’ Nahlous told ArtsHub.

The wider public can lend a hand by supporting organisations which advocate for marginalised and underrepresented creative workers, becoming micro-patrons by making contributions and buying music, books and artworks from diverse artists.

To read more about the survey results head to Diversity Arts Australia’s website.

A one-man journey through the barbs, one-liners and neoliberal legacy of Paul Keating – The Adelaide Review

A one-man journey through the barbs, one-liners and neoliberal legacy of Paul Keating – The Adelaide Reviewhe Adelaide ReviewFacebookTwitterhe Adelaide Reviewacebooknstagramwitter

Thomas McCammon

Jonathan Biggins in character as Paul Keating

Yesterday, the State Theatre Company confirmed its season of Jonathan Biggins’ The Gospel According to Paul has been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. But with this story already in the bag, we suspect some readers might appreciate any excuse to look back on a time when prime ministers spoke in fewer slogans – and more sick burns.

Say what you will about Australia’s many prime ministers, but few have inspired the creation of theatre. It’s hard to imagine Tony Abbott On Ice getting funding in this environment, let alone Kevin Rudd’s All Dancing Disco Revue (although a Busby Berkeley-style water ballet celebrating Harold Holt has a certain undeniable appeal).

Paul Keating, however, inspires something in artists and writers that few of Australia’s many, many leaders has done. He’s already been the subject of an award-winning musical (Keating!) and now actor, comedian and satirist Johnathan Biggins is stepping into his (Zegna) suit to present The Gospel According To Paul.

“You look back and think there was an extraordinary amount of policy going on and not that much politics,” he says of the Keating years. “And now the reverse has happened. I mean, obviously there was the leadership and the Kirribilli Agreement [in which Bob Hawke supposedly agreed to hand the leadership over to Keating during his third term], but it’s a pretty extraordinary life that someone who left school at 14 – technically 14 and ten months, I’ve been told – and didn’t go to university who then became such a rounded, educated autodidactic polymath, and was able to dominate the political scene so effectively.”

Keating was a unique PM: on the one hand, he was a fiercely progressive force, especially when it came to multiculturalism, the status of First Australians, and the arts. On the other, he led Australia into the global neoliberalism which is currently starting to look like maybe not having been an entirely awesome idea. 

A taste of the real Keating’s ‘performance’ style

“You could argue that some of his and Hawke’s reforms are now coming back to bite us,” Biggins agrees, “but he would argue that they were necessary and that ensuing governments removed the safety net and failed to protect the legacy of what he did. It certainly looks like the 29 years of uninterrupted economic growth are about to slide to a halt. And we could argue that in the light of climate change that economic growth is no longer a desirable thing, but part of the problem of doing a one man show about someone like Paul Keating is that it’s very hard, when being him, to criticise himself.”

Biggins has been performing his version of Keating for years as one of the mainstays of the annual Wharf Revue, and it turns out that the former PM was not initially a fan of the idea that this version of himself getting a full-length show. 

“We knew that he was averse to this project at the beginning,” he admits. “The original plan was to make the show about Keating planning his state funeral, and then his sister pointed out to me that he has refused a state funeral and finds the whole idea utterly terrible. So I changed that, but I gathered that he was still not keen and was worried that it’d be a hatchet job or an invasion into his personal life,” He pauses. “I mean, Keating! was basically a hagiography, that’s why he saw it seven times.”

The seeds were sown from an emergency monologue Biggins shoved into the Revue a couple of years ago when co-star Drew Forsythe was forced to drop out with a sudden medical emergency. “So I did this thing of him coming out and going ‘I’m here to remind you what leadership looks like’ and the audience went ballistic. And Keating came and saw that and thought ‘Oh, they still love me? Alright, fine, go ahead.’ And he gave us permission to use some photos from his private collection, and he’s see the show twice and sent his family along. Even [former wife] Anita came and saw it…”

A different night, presumably? “Oh, a very different night.”

Keating tells student protestors in Adelaide, including then-NUS SA President Tammy Franks, to “get a job”. She certainly did.

The show took two years to write due to the sheer amount of research and Biggins is proud to declare it factually accurate, though is quick to point out that “the other joy is integrating Keating’s barbs, one-liners and insults and making them my own. And he’s just a theatrical character – he’s funny, he’s sharp, he’s melancholic, so people are also moved by it. People come expecting 90 minutes of stand-up Keating, and it’s not that. As Bob Carr said ‘he’s the most entertaining politician we’ve ever had.’”

And at a time when global and national events seem to be moving more swiftly than the government can handle them, his legacy looms larger than ever. “Keating said that leadership was about two things: imagination and courage. Imagination makes sense of the big picture, to think of something better, and the courage to see it through. And I worried that maybe we’d missed the boat, that Keating was a bit old-fashioned, but wow: it just gets more relevant every day.”

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions on mass gatherings, State Theatre Company’s March/April season of The Gospel According To Paul has been cancelled.

24 March – 4 April

CANCELLED
The Gospel According To Paul

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AGSA, Museum suspend public programs while Festival Centre, State Theatre join nation-wide event cancellations

Andrew P Street is a freelance writer whose books include The Short And Excruciatingly Embarrassing Reign Of Captain Abbott (2015) and The Long And Winding Way To The Top (2017).

Asian arts extravaganza challenges our Anglocentric status quo – The Age

Singaporean experimental music legend Margaret Leng Tan teams with local avant-garde theatre mavericks Chamber Made for Dragon Ladies Don’t Weep, a hybrid of spoken and recorded text, video projections, and music for toy piano and percussion.

Acclaimed Balinese artist Kamila Andini will adapt her award-winning film The Seen and Unseen to the stage, with the assistance of one of our most stylish independent theatre directors, Adena Jacobs, and designer Eugyeene Teh.

And Armstrong is proud Asia TOPA has supported an international alliance between First Nations artists. Artistic director of Ilbijerri Theatre Rachael Maza spent years exploring indigenous performance from Japan, Taiwan and New Zealand. The result, Black Ties, portrays cultural collision at an Aboriginal/Maori wedding, and pairs a trailblazing Indigenous theatre company with Te Rehia Theatre from across the ditch.

Of course, the Asia-Pacific is a region marked by geopolitical turbulence as well as creative ferment. Dealing with government can be a tricky proposition for artists and programmers alike. The NGV was recently accused of deferring to Chinese authorities over its refusal to host a Hong Kong pro-democracy forum during an exhibition of the famed Terracotta Warriors.

How do Armstrong and Ben-Tovim see their role in navigating the politics of international collaboration?

“The first thing to say,” Armstrong says, “is that we program artists and works. We don’t go to governments seeking support. That comes after. We’re not chasing an agenda, and we’re not in the business of staging or producing political activism that is not expressed through the medium of art.”

That said, many works in the program have a political dimension. “The embedded sense of politics in [Asian performance] can be really strong,” Ben-Tovim says. “And often in placid forms we wouldn’t associate with that – dance for instance.

“Politics is everywhere, and particularly in contemporary works. If there weren’t politics in the program you could say we weren’t doing our job, because there is so much flux in the region.”

One work with political undertones is high-octane dance theatre from the Philippines, Are You Ready To Take The Law Into Your Own Hands?, which tells the story of a kidnapped pop star and a ragtag crew of superfans and misfits on a manic mission to rescue her.

The program pointedly notes the piece has “zero political relevance to current events”, and Armstrong is acutely conscious the festival has a duty of care to artists not to put them in jeopardy. But the piece emerges from a portrait of life under President Rodrigo Duterte, and underneath the manic dancing and Pinoy power ballads lies a courageous spirit of resistance.

Asia TOPA seeks to challenge the status quo here in Australia, too. It has the explicit aim of shifting conservative, and often Anglocentric, programming at major performing arts institutions, and to encourage them to take inspiration from Asia.

With the MTC staging its first production to be performed in English and Mandarin last year, and K-Box – a play featuring a pop star from South Korea – to appear at the Malthouse in May, it may already be having an impact.

Certainly, Melbourne’s liberal embrace of multiculturalism and its now formidable arts precinct at Southbank make it a natural home for the festival.

“It’s no coincidence Asia TOPA is happening in Melbourne,” Armstrong says. “We couldn’t have done it anywhere else.”

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The Neighbourhood At La Boite Presents Stories Without Borders – scenestr

In times of ever-increasing states of diversity and the world progressing somewhat towards globalisation, it comes at the perfect time that ‘The Neighbourhood’, a brand-new play about intimate storytelling which transports the audience across borders within the walls of La Boite, should be ready to share some of the stories of the people who make up the diversified culture of our communities.


With so many different themes of journeys, experience, and a sense of community, for Co-Creator Aleea Monsour and Composer Matt Hsu, the ultimate take away they hope for, for people attending ‘The Neighbourhood’, is a sense of humanity. “Experiences are different,” Matt begins. “We go through different things, speak different languages, have different upbringings and values, but we experience it through the lens of being human, and we all relate through that.”


“I hope also there’s an element of some kind of inspiration that the audience can take in terms of their own neighbourhood and their own communities,” Aleea adds, “both in learning from the experiences shared by the incredible storytellers we have on board for this project as well as the performance itself.”


For Aleea, the inspiration for cultivating ‘The Neighbourhood’ was a combination of social observation and personal experience. “I think from what Todd MacDonald, the Artistic Director at La Boite, has talked about, wanting to programme this work comes from a place of the importance of it in our current society and community.”


The insertion of this work into the performing arts is, Matt and Aleea agree, not only extremely relevant for the cultural diversity it presents but its bearing to current social discussions. “This also took inspiration from the work ‘The Village’, which I’m proud to have been a part of,” Aleea continues.


“We’ll keep making these works until we don’t need to anymore.”


‘The Neighbourhood’ collaborates different journeys from different individuals, with the members of cast involved having of course made their own journeys to eventually come together at a point of collaboration. The experiences of the cast and crew in their own lives have, Matt and Aleea say, married together in some ways to become this semi-fictional story.

“The content in the show will be not necessarily word-for-word verbatim, but it is based on real experience.”



“The way we then engage with that is of course artistic, but there’s not necessarily acting out of things that haven’t happened. The content in our show is real, but there may be music as a way of sharing that to the story, bringing it to life.”



“Each member has a diverse performative skill set,” Matt says, “and we use that to support each other. One of us uses movement or dance, while another expresses that story to sound, environmental music.”



For Matt, a multi-instrumentalist composing the soundtrack to be diversified in keeping with the scope of ‘The Neighbourhood’, his points of influence are incredibly varied and also stem from personal experience.

“When I was younger, I was ashamed of being Asian,” he says. “I took on some of that as internalised racism, and only through listening to world music and the cool creative stuff that comes out of Asia, Africa, etcetera, I started to realise all cultures bring a unique sensibility through their music.”


“I wanted to recreate the feeling that it’s cool to be not just Australian, but Australian plus something else. I use these instruments to create this analogy that if cultures come together it can be a beautiful thing.”

‘The Neighbourhood’ plays La Boite Theatre from 8-29 February.

Cessnock welcomes 39 new citizens and honours 20 individuals and groups at Australia Day ceremony – Cessnock Advertiser

New citizens, achievers young and old, and the people who make our community a better place to live were celebrated at Cessnock’s Australia Day ceremony on Sunday.

Thirty-nine new Australian citizens were inducted at the ceremony at Cessnock Performing Arts Centre, and 20 individuals and community groups were recognised with Australia Day awards.

Hunter Hands of Hope president Melissa Gontier was named citizen of the year for her dedication to helping Cessnock’s homeless and vulnerable people.

Ms Gontier and her mother Julie Hall founded Hunter Hands of Hope in December 2018. What started out as a food drive in the TAFE grounds has grown to an outreach service that serves up to 49 people a night, four nights a week, and connects people in need to appropriate services.

Ms Gontier wasn’t able to attend the ceremony as she was unwell.

Cessnock mayor Bob Pynsent said Ms Gontier has made a huge contribution to the community through her work with Hunter Hands of Hope, which recently moved to new premises at Cessnock Tennis Courts.

“This organisation helps those who need it most in our community, homeless and vulnerable people,” he said.

“It’s her compassion, caring and selflessness that we recognise.

“Our community is truly better off because of Melissa.”

Senior citizen of the year Ted Jackson, with Australia Day ambassador Damien Leith and Cessnock mayor Bob Pynsent at the 2020 Australia Day ceremony at Cessnock Performing Arts Centre. Picture: Krystal Sellars

Ted Jackson was named Senior Citizen of the Year for his work to advocate for better support for the aged in our community.

In his role as Northern Coalfields Community Care Association CEO, Mr Jackson worked tirelessly to convert the former Cessnock PCYC into a centre of excellence to provide better support facilities for aged people. The centre opened in 2019.

A lifelong Cessnock resident, Mr Jackson was also involved in the establishment of Cessnock District Health Benefits Fund.

Young citizen of the year Chelsea Webb, with Australia Day ambassador Damien Leith.

The award for young citizen of the year went to Mount View High School student Chelsea Webb for her leadership in various youth initiatives.

Ms Webb is president of Mount View High School’s Leos Club (a youth division of Lions Clubs International), a member of the school’s Beyond Bullying project, and also took part in a two-day consultation with the Secretary of the Department of Education to discuss how schooling could be improved for all students.

Another inspirational young woman, Trinity Woodhouse, received the Maree Callaghan Award for a young female achiever.

Ms Woodhouse, 16, was recognised for her achievements as a singer-songwriter and her contributions as a leader and role model for local young people.

Fresh from performing nine days straight at the Tamworth Country Music Festival, Ms Woodhouse performed an original song called Don’t You Know, and joined MC Tara Naysmith and Australia Day ambassador Damien Leith for a stirring rendition of I Am Australian to close the awards ceremony (see the video in the post below).

Young people also accounted for the majority of the community award winners, including a number of recipients from Cessnock and Mount View High School.

Adam Robinson, Olivia Chapman, Kyle Gosper, Shane Rodger-Wilson, Bethany Dwyer, Vincent Plater, Rose Lucas and Chloe Steel were recognised for their efforts in various youth-related pursuits, with mental health and anti-bullying initiatives among them.

Mums and Bubs Pokolbin ambassadors Amy Butler and Amy Roberts, and outgoing ambassador Rachel Threadgate, also received community awards for their dedication to providing a support network for local parents and carers of babies and young children. The group holds monthly picnics and donates items to a different local charity each month.

The Branxton Community Hall Committee won the environment award for efforts to reduce its carbon footprint, which have included installing solar panels and LED lighting at the hall.

COMBINED EFFORT: Cheryle Shoesmith and Lexie Matthews, from Coalfields Local History Association, with Sharon Dyson-Smith and Lesley Morris, from Towns With Heart, who collected the community event of the year award for the Lost Diggers of Weston and Field of Honour project. Picture: Krystal Sellars

The community event of the year award was presented to Coalfields Local History Association and Towns With Heart for the Lost Diggers of Weston exhibition and Field of Honour, which was held over the Anzac Day long weekend.

The Lost Diggers exhibition was held at the Kurri Kurri Anglican Church hall and included portraits of more than 60 World War I soldiers on display for the first time, after the glass plate negatives were retrieved from under a house in Weston some years before.

The Field of Honour was held at Kurri Kurri cemetery in conjunction, with Australian flags placed on hundreds of soldiers’ graves. Both events will return on the Anzac Day weekend this year, and the Lost Diggers will also be shown at Kurri Kurri Library on February 18 during the Cessnock City Seniors Festival.

The ceremony also included the presentation of the Marthaville Arts and Cultural Award, which was received by Geoff Travis for sharing his musical talent at local retirement homes.

Cr Pynsent said it was a privilege to be part of the awards and congratulate all recipients.

“Our city is full of amazing contributors, who are community-minded and make a significant contribution to our local government area,” he said.

“Each winner is extremely deserving of a recognition and I extend another special thanks to each of them for all that they do.”

Cr Pynsent gave a special mention to the firefighters who have protected our city during this summer’s horror bushfire season.

“Their bravery and spirit in this trying time was incredible to witness,” he said.