Dear AICSA members and subscribers,
As you may have heard the South Australian Government has terminated the employment of Mr Peter Louca as the Executive Director of Arts South Australia, effective 5pm Wednesday 22 August, and has abolished the position of Executive Director, Arts South Australia.
The Arts Industry Council of South Australia (AICSA) would like to offer our heartfelt thanks to Peter for his three years of service and for his passionate championing of our sector.
AICSA is greatly concerned by this development. In the absence of detail regarding future intent, this decision, coupled with the recent dividing of the arts and culture portfolio among other ministries, can be perceived as a diminution of the Arts within the Department of Premier and Cabinet.
We acknowledge that there is a heightened level of concern and anxiety in our sector at the moment. For the last couple of years, in recognition of the pressure on the sector caused by Federal Government decisions as well as the contribution our sector makes to the State for such a small investment, the previous Government deferred efficiency and other cuts to Arts South Australia’s budget. It seems highly unlikely that this will be the case in the upcoming budget.
AICSA is the peak body for arts and culture in South Australia with a membership that includes the broad cross section of major, small-to-medium and artist-run organisations, and individual artists. A key part of our role is to communicate with and advocate to governments on behalf of the arts in South Australia.
On election of the new South Australian Government in March this year, AICSA wrote to the Premier of South Australia, the Hon. Steven Marshall, to congratulate him for taking on the arts portfolio and to request a meeting. This request was followed by further formal correspondence that came from our Annual General Meeting, which many of you attended, held in May.
The South Australian Government has yet to meet or consult with AICSA. On July 24, we received an email advising us that unfortunately the Premier is unable to meet with AICSA at this time and that our meeting request remains under consideration.
In our correspondence with the Government we have sought updates and discussion in a number of key areas these include:
- Updates on the Government’s ‘Investing in the Arts’ pre-election commitments, including the development of South Australia’s first arts plan in almost 20 years; establishment of a Commissioner for Cultural Development; and an injection of $1million per annum increase to funding for new art and early career artists.
- As raised at the AICSA pre-election forum in March, concern that any increases in funding will be undermined by proposed cuts to the arts appropriation, and the cumulative impact that efficiency dividends can have on the very small arts budget.
- Lines of communication between the sector and the Premier, and concerns that the arts portfolio is no longer a Ministry.
We now add to this list our concern that potential reductions in both the status of and staffing at Arts South Australia will reduce the sector’s capacity to work strategically with the South Australian Government. While it may be communicated as reducing bureaucracy, we are concerned that this signals less influence and less investment.While we had hoped to meet with the new South Australian Government before the State Budget, which will be handed down on Tuesday 4 September, we will continue to correspond with the Premier and hope to meet with the Government as soon as possible.
We believe that it is of benefit to the sector that the Premier is responsible for the arts, and that this reflects a commitment to the sector, and we urge Mr Marshall and his team to prioritise a meeting with AICSA.
We also urge the Government of South Australia to continue to support and champion the very diverse, successful and wide-reaching arts sector in our state through its investment in Arts South Australia.
AICSA will hold a State Budget briefing forum on Thursday 13 September at 5:30pm at ACE Open.
On behalf of the Executive Committee