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SA artists rally to highlight ‘wretched situation’

Arts & Culture

Adelaide artists and their supporters will rally on the steps of Parliament House tomorrow to protest proposed funding cuts they say could force the closure of some SA arts organisations.

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Arts funding battle

“The SA Government’s forward plan to strip $8.5 million per annum from the arts budget by 2018/19 will massively amplify the impact of the cuts to the Australia Council,” State Theatre Company of SA executive director Rob Brookman, who will address the rally, told InDaily today.

“While State Theatre Company is not threatened with significant cuts, many other arts organisations and programs are and will be forced to close their doors at the end of this year.

“We stand with them.”

The rally – to take place at midday – has been organised by the Arts Industry Council of South Australia, with other speakers including Tamara Winikoff, co-conveyor of ArtsPeak and CEO of the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA ), and independent artist Ross McHenry.

Brookman said that in addition to contributing to the richness, diversity and vibrancy of SA’s culture, the arts were also “an economic driver that delivers great outcomes for our city and state at marginal cost”.

“The arts community by and large keeps its politics on stage, in print or on the walls of galleries, rather than in the streets, but the time has come to make the wretched situation that we and our audiences face a serious issue as we approach the handing down of the state budget and a federal election.”

Arts Industry Council of SA chair Gail Kovatseff said many South Australian artists and arts organisations were “extremely concerned” about the foreshadowed state funding cuts, especially on top of reduced federal funding through the Australia Council.

It is expected that in its next funding announcement in May, the Council will cut around $1.6 million from small to medium arts companies in South Australia.

“We’re hoping that it [the rally] highlights to everyone … that these proposed cuts will really impact and where they will impact most is on the small-to-medium sector; it is that sector that gives each city its identity,” Kovatseff said.

Small to medium arts organisations include the likes of Restless Dance Theatre, Slingsby, Brink Productions, Australian String Quartet, the Jam Factory, Australian Dance Theatre and Patch Theatre.

“It’s those unique smaller organisations that make up the fabric of the arts sector,” Kovatseff said.

She said many artists got their start with small arts companies, and the proposed budget cuts could drive a generation of artists either out of South Australia or out of the industry.

Arts Minister Jack Snelling confirmed in February that South Australian arts organisations and festivals were all facing the prospect of reduced funding, after InDaily earlier revealed that the Adelaide Festival had been advised of a $1 million cut to its 2016/17 budget.

Asked for comment this morning, a State Government spokesperson said: “We are extremely proud of our arts community in South Australia.

“Like all areas of government, the arts is not immune to cross-government efficiency targets.

“We are working with all of the organisations and festivals that we fund, as to what impact that may have. Exact details will be clear after the next State Budget.”

Rob Brookman said last year’s national protests over the Federal Government’s “misguided” National Program for Excellence in the Arts showed that concerted public campaigns could be effective.

“It’s not time to ‘go gentle into the night’; it’s time for our collective voice, including that of our audiences, to get a lot louder.”

 

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