Arts Hub, Richard Watts
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Arts Hub continues to report on the sector’s response to Minister Brandis’ decision to redirect funds from the Australia Council for the Arts into his own department.
Simon Abrahams, Chair of Theatre Network Victoria and Creative Director/CEO of Melbourne Fringe, was one of several arts leaders who attended a recent meeting in Melbourne with the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, and Shadow Minister for the Arts, Mark Dreyfus QC.
At that meeting, Shorten urged artists to enlist their audiences to lobby on their behalf. ‘He was very clear in his belief that this can’t be an issue simply for artists; that we have to engage our audiences as well in order to mobilise some action,’ said Abrahams.
Arts companies are calling on their audiences to join the protests against a move which takes a chunk of arts funding out of the independent and peer reviewed grant process. Abrahams:
‘Our audiences are the people that care about what we do; they value and understand what it is that the independent and the small to medium sector bring to the arts in Australia, and they understand why that matters. So we really need their voices as citizens and as advocates who can help speak on our behalf.’
That message has been taken up by Theatre Network Victoria said its Director, Nicole Beyer.
‘We have been encouraging our members across Australia to contact their audiences and ask them to question their local MP about the budget measures. The small to medium and independent sector doesn’t have big names to help advocate our value, but we do have extensive audiences across Australia who could help raise awareness of the impacts that this budget will have on this sector and its audiences,‘ she said, adding:
‘What audiences want is a range of work to see – yes, they do want to see the ballet and go to the symphonies, but they also want to go to The Village Festival in Byron Bay with their friends, or their local theatre company in Albury Wodonga, or to send their kids to a youth arts organisation in the school holidays. It’s not an either-or situation, they want it all!’