STATE BUDGET MISSES THE MARK FOR ARTISTS IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA

The Arts Industry Council of South Australia (AICSA) is disappointed by the South Australian Government’s 2017-2018 budget, which sees no new investment directly into the independent arts sector, despite a modest set of proposals provided to the Government by AICSA in November 2016.

AICSA chairperson Gail Kovatseff said, “While we recognise that this budget has seen no cuts to the arts, overall the Government has ignored the calls of artists and arts organisations to redress the dire and stagnant funding environment facing individual artists and small-to-medium arts organisations in South Australia.”

“New initiatives have entirely focused on capital investment and major institutions. We welcome these initiatives. However even a modest investment in grants programs, individual career development and arts innovation could have had a deep impact on the development of new South Australian artistic work, the heart of art-making in South Australia – artists themselves, and keeping artists in our state”, she continued.

AICSA wrote to the South Australian Government in November 2016, proposing five initiatives. AICSA also asked the South Australian Government to form a cross-departmental 18-month State Government taskforce, to develop a long-term arts and cultural strategy for South Australia prior to the next State election. None of the AICSA proposals have been funded.

The new measures announced in the 2017-2018 budget are:

1. $31M of additional funds to a revised plan for the Her Majesty’s Theatre upgrade, bringing the total investment so far to $66.2M;

2. $1.9M for an international search for architectural design submissions for the proposed new gallery, Adelaide Contemporary, sited at the Old RAH;

3. $1.25M for the 2018 Adelaide Festival, primarily for commissioning and presentation of major international work;

4. $1M for activation strategies (concerts, performances and other events, promotion of a ‘walk of fame’ promenade, and a new arts playground) to mark the reopening of the Adelaide Festival Centre;

5. The previously announced $960,000 per annum for Adelaide Fringe to increase visitors by keeping ticket prices low for audiences.

The South Australian Government has also stated it is investing $1.1M into Arts South Australia’s delivery of its programs. This is a not new investment, but rather a one-year reprieve from savings/efficiencies, which maintains the status quo. 2017-2018 priorities, according to the State Government’s budget papers, include the development of an Aboriginal arts strategy, the Made in Adelaide initiative, and three live music events for SA through the UNESCO City of Music Events Fund.

AICSA will hold a sector briefing about the 2017-2018 State Budget, and what it means for artists and the arts sector, on Monday 26 June, 5:30pm, at the Adelaide Festival Centre’s Piano Bar.

The briefing will also include information about how AICSA will be highlighting the value of investing directly in artists in the lead-up to the next South Australian State election in March 2018.

AICSA will ask all parties contesting the State election to release arts policies with funds attached that support a rich ecosystem of arts and culture in South Australia. As with last year’s Federal election, AICSA will target a number of marginal electorates.

“Losing arts organisations and artists undermines investment in festivals, arts markets, cultural infrastructure, the nighttime and small bars economy, and more broadly it greatly undermines the marketing of Adelaide as an arts capital. On the other hand, investment in artists and a diverse range of arts organisations can have wide cultural, social and economic benefits for South Australia”, said Kovatseff.

“While we welcome the five initiatives announced in the budget, sadly we don’t believe the South Australian government understands the breadth of the arts sector. The future of contemporary global artistic practice in South Australia relies not only on infrastructure, festivals and arts centres, but on artists themselves and the small and medium sized organisations that develop, commission, present and nurture them”, she concluded.

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