First it was the federal government’s budget announcements and then the media announced that the state government has plans to convert the Old King’s School in Parramatta to a primary school. Once again, the arts in western Sydney are required to role with punches delivered by governments.
“Just thought everyone needs to know that come December the whole national youth arts sector will be de-funded by the Australia Council #freethearts.” This statement posted by Kaz Therese on Facebook, spells a forceful blow for the 30 year old Powerhouse Youth Theatre, at Fairfield, where Kaz has been artistic director for the last two years. The company has been the leading youth arts theatre in western Sydney for decades and under a series of dynamic directors, has made an enormous creative and social contribution.
Of course, it doesn’t spell the end of the company – it has too much support from the community, Fairfield Council, Arts NSW and many others, but it just makes everything so much harder. The Australia Council has previously awarded Kaz special recognition of her creative production abilities. One of the awards enabled her to create and produce the highly successful FUNPARK at Bidwill as part of Sydney Festival last year. Above, Kaz and PYT members celebrate the launch of their 2015 season earlier this year.
Australian Theatre for Young People artistic director Fraser Corfield had feared the changes in federal arts funding announced in this year’s budget would advantage bigger arts organisations at the expense of their smaller counterparts. “Looking at the youth theatre sector, which is nationally the smallest and least funded of arts organisations, it’s going to be very difficult to get traction in that sort of funding environment.” His fears have been realised.
Both youth theatre companies worked together during the past year to present In This Fairfield: Romeo & Juliet In The West at PYT Fairfield, ATYP’s base in Sydney and at Riverside Theatres, Parramatta. There is a similar arrangement for PYT’s Team Australia: Stories From Fairfield later this year, photo above.
Read more about the decision to divert $104.7 million from the Australia Council to a new National Program for Excellence in the Arts, to be administered by the federal Arts Ministry, led by Senator George Brandis by clicking here
. The National Association for Visual Arts is
circulating an open letter to George Brandis from the Visual Arts Sector and you can sign by clicking here
. Blue Mountains artist, cultural activist and publisher Ian Millis
comments about an article in The Guardian
, which gives in international context for these changes, “This is by far the best analysis I have seen so far of what is going on with Brandis, although I would add a bit more about the pork barrelling potential for a minister controlling art funding.” Click here
to read the article.
Artist, poet and secretary of the Blue Mountains Artists Network, Patrick Hromas, right, made his feelings known at #Free The Arts National Call for Action
, on May 22. He joined hundreds of other Sydney artists in Hyde Park. The painting details are as follows: Patrick Hromas La Nuit/Du Jour (I am not worth a moments sorrow.)
2009, Oil on canvas, 61.5 x 76.6. Click here
to read more about Patrick and his art and here
for his poetry.
If the announcement about The Old King’s School
is true, it is yet another setback for the long advocated use of the heritage school buildings as an arts and cultural precinct, across Marsden St from Parramatta’s Riverside Theatres. As Western Sydney Business Chamber director David Borger has said, “For arts precincts to work, the buildings need to be in proximity and complement each other so there is an ecosystem which builds growth and audiences.” So far, the Education Department has said no decision has been made.
Although state member for Parramatta, Dr Geoff Lee, repeatedly states the NSW Government’s commitment to the creation of an arts and cultural precinct and the relocation of the Powerhouse Museum to Parramatta, there is still no announcement as to where it might be sited. Geoff has said publicly on several occasions that he thinks that the old Parramatta Gaol would make an ideal arts and cultural precinct, but that too seems out of reach. The gaol has been granted to the Deerubbin Aboriginal Land Council
following a claim under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act earlier this year. Above is the Old King’s School in April, 2011, when it still carried the banner proclaiming it to be Western Sydney’s Arts and Education Precinct.