Adelaide concert hall gets Vice-Regal backing
The Governor has expressed her hope for the construction of new arts infrastructure in South Australia, particularly a “long-awaited” concert hall and the on-ice proposal for a national Aboriginal cultural centre at Lot 14.
Governor Frances Adamson delivering the first Don Dunstan Lecture at the Dunstan Playhouse. Photo: Kyahm Ross / supplied by Adelaide Festival Centre
Delivering the first of two keynote lectures in the Dunstan Playhouse last week, Governor Frances Adamson spoke about the importance of the arts in building South Australia’s “soft power”.
She used a white paper developed when she was Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to define the term as “having the ability to influence the behaviour or thinking of others through the power of attraction and ideas”.
“The arts are obviously part of Australia’s soft power, and South Australia’s, too,” she said, according to speech notes published on the Governor’s website. “As the White Paper said, ‘Collaboration on cultural projects helps build influence and partnerships internationally and creates shared understanding’.
“That’s where ‘cultural diplomacy’ comes in. Successful cultural diplomacy enables us to engage with others, drawing on our soft power, to build awareness of who we are and what we stand for and how we can work together, whether in the arts, or more broadly.”
Adamson was delivering the first talk in the Don Dunstan Lecture Series, part of the Adelaide Festival Centre’s 50th anniversary celebrations and focusing on the vision and legacy of Dunstan.
The second free lecture will be delivered by former Premier Mike Rann, on December 14.
Adamson remembered the 1970s, in the wake of the Festival Centre’s opening, as a time of “excitement and inspiration” in the arts.
“The striking thing about Dunstan, even to me as a teenage schoolgirl at the time, was that he was changing things in exciting ways and that South Australians were changing, too,” she said.
“We took pride in Adelaide Festival Centre – the building and festivals and performances which took place in and around it.
“As several former arts ministers have described it to me, the Festival Centre became part of our identity.”
An extension of that identity was the use of local arts and culture to help build the state’s relationships and influence with other countries, particularly in the region.
She said South Australia’s contribution to Australia’s cultural diplomacy could be traced, to a large degree, to “the cultural and social policy foundations laid in the Dunstan decade”.
The Governor also looked to the future – expressing her hope for the building of a long-mooted concert hall for Adelaide.
“The arts don’t stand still, and neither should we,” she said.
“If, on the occasion of the centenary of Adelaide Festival Centre, an invitation were to be issued to the Governor of the day to reflect on the arts in South Australia, I hope they would be able to cast their mind back to the 2020s and remark on: the completion of a long-awaited concert hall; a world-class Centre for First Nations Cultures, Tarrkarri at Lot 14; and a state which had continued to accumulate its soft power through the arts, building confidently and ambitiously on the contribution of its First Nations peoples and its multi-cultural community, tightly connected to its neighbours in the Indo-Pacific and its partners across the world.
“South Australia pacesetting.”
Funding for a concert hall still seems a long way off.
Arts Minister Andrea Michaels received an “options analysis” of a proposed concert hall in August this year, according to her office.
That study will help the government decide whether the concert hall will be included as a priority in a new arts strategy for the state, which is expected to be released in mid-2024.
“The arts strategy will deliver a long-term vision for arts and culture in South Australia and identify our key priorities, which will be considered as part of future budget processes,” a spokesperson told InReview.
Tarrkarri is also up in the air, with Premier Peter Malinauskas setting an end-of-year deadline for a decision on whether to proceed with the landmark project.