The fight for federal arts funding intensifies, even as new programs emerge

Art Changes Lives - June 2016



A National Day of Action begins today with demonstrations by artists and the arts community against drastic funding cuts. On May 13 this year, 50% of small
to medium arts companies did not receive funding as a result of the government’s
cuts to the Australia Council. These cuts will result in job losses and will have flow on effects across cultural industries, educational institutions and the commercial sector. The arts employ more people than agriculture, construction or mining and the creative industries generate $50 billion for the Australian economy. Independent artists and organisations are the backbone of arts in Australia, generating new ideas and new talent.
Artists are the innovators of our nation.

Rosie Dennis, artistic director of Urban Theatre Projects, based in Bankstown says, “Join us at 12.30pm outside Bankstown train station to show your support. Follow #Istandforthearts and join in, wherever you are. Now more than ever is the time to hold onto our democratic right and freedom to speak out and protest, and let our leaders know that we want to see and hear great stories, told by talented artists, that are connected to the country, the city, the suburb, that we call home.”

UTP - One Day for Peace - 2The National Day of Action launches a two week campaign highlighting the importance of the arts in the lead-up to the federal election on July 2. The Museum of Contemporary Art and the National Association for the Visual Arts will be asking visitors today to tell politicians about why the arts are important in their own lives. Theatre companies are taking similar actions with their audiences. Rosie Dennis says, “Increasingly the arts are disappearing from our daily lives and are almost always under-valued as a career path. Yet it’s one of the most valuable industries we have in terms of reminding us of our humanity.” Above, is an image from UTP’s 2015 film One Day for Peace, which featured members of many different faiths in western Sydney and was shown to a range of audiences across the region in September. One Day For Peace will feature on ABC’s Compass program in August this year.

Family Portraits - Joanne SaadFederal funding has been vital to the success of UTP programs, which work closely with communities in western Sydney and regions across NSW to highlight the experiences of many different cultural groups and offer them the opportunity for deeper understanding and sharing common ground. Left, is an image from Bankstown Live, UTP’s four day event in last year’s Sydney Festival.

Organisers urge –

→ Get on social media and post about your support with #istandwiththearts
and #ausvotesarts
→ Write a letter of support for the arts to your local member (or email)
→ Write to the Arts Minister Hon. Mitch Fifield
→ Vote for the candidates with the best arts policies on July 2

Rosie Dennis says, “I urge you to have a conversation with your neighbours, your local school, the people you work with, your friends, your family about the value and importance of the arts – theatre, film, dance, literature, visual arts. And not the Hollywood blockbusters, or the big names that play at the top end of town, but the little guys, like us, here at UTP, who reach out to a broad range of people and see the impact that our work has on people’s daily lives.”

Blacktown Arts Centre 1In the meantime, state government funding through Arts NSW has allowed the development and launch of a new program for young Aboriginal people Solid Ground 2016. A new partnership between Carriageworks in inner city Redfern and Blacktown Arts Centre, right, Solid Ground 2016 is a new three-year strategy that will provide pathways for young Indigenous people in NSW into the arts and cultural industries. Solid Ground will create designed tertiary education and on the job training programs for 90 young Indigenous people from across Redfern, Waterloo and Blacktown. It has been a long time in preparation and aims to give young indigenous people meaningful connection with school and rewarding pathways for their own futures.

Sydney Sacred Music Fest 16 - headlineState funding is also assisting the 2016 Sydney Sacred Music Festival, now in its sixth year, scheduled for September 2 to 18 throughout Sydney. Their first major fundraising event presents a great line-up of Sydney’s best world music performers at Camelot Lounge, Marrickville, July 3, 6.30pm for 7.30pm show. Festival founder and director Richard Petkovic, of western Sydney, promises a night of “the authentic, the fusion and the future in world music!”  Tickets and information – click here.

In the meantime, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre has opened bookings for its Way Out West Festival for Children program. An annual event funded by Liverpool City Council, the children’s festival is Sydney’s only free contemporary arts festival for children and will run from July 13 to 16. It’s an extensive and varied program promising lots of fun and which has also been assisted by state funding. Although free, bookings are essential.

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