SA arts advocates ramp up political campaign

South Australian arts industry supporters will distribute flyers in the marginal seat of Hindmarsh urging residents to consider parties’ arts promises and policies before voting in the federal election.

Jun 22, 2016, updated Jun 22, 2016
Call to support the arts: Adelaide writer and actor Elena Carapetis. Photo: James Hartley

Call to support the arts: Adelaide writer and actor Elena Carapetis. Photo: James Hartley

Featuring the face of Adelaide writer and actor Elena Carapetis, the flyers highlight the Federal Government’s arts funding cuts which have led to the loss of ongoing support for five SA organisations – including Port Adelaide-based Vitalstatistix.

“My career in the arts has been nurtured by the small organisations affected by these cuts,” Carapetis, recently appointed State Theatre Company of SA’s resident artist for 2017, says on the flyer.

“They are the backbone of the arts, generating new ideas and the next generation of talent.

“I want to see a Government that shows its support for telling Australian stories, showcasing exceptional art, and involving our communities in cultural expression.”

The Arts Industry Council of South Australia (AICSA) recently set up a Hindmarsh Campaign Sub-Committee to target the electorate, which is currently held by Liberal MP Matt Williams after he defeated Labor’s Steve Georganas with a 1.89 per cent margin in 2013.

AICSA  is also preparing a comparison of political parties’ arts policies to email to members and supporters in the final week of the election campaign.

Last night it hosted a forum at the Mercury Cinema, where around 100 people heard federal election candidates speak about their parties’ arts policies and visions.

Participants included Port Adelaide Labor MP Mark Butler, Greens Senator Robert Simms, Nick Xenophon Team candidate for Sturt Matthew Wright and Arts Party Senate candidate Terence Crawford. The Liberal Party was also invited to send a representative but declined

AICSA chairperson Gail Kovatseff said all candidates present supported the return of funds to independent arts funding body the Australia Council.

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The forum also saw questions about funding for the ABC and Screen Australia, and agreement that new leadership was needed in the arts to generate deeper understanding of the sector’s value.

“One of the great things to come out of this period is the way the arts have united nationally,” Kovatseff told InDaily.

“I think the ‘I Stand With the Arts’ campaign that culminated in a day of action on Friday was an amazing effort … we’ve had a lot of impact.

“The fact that Bill Shorten announced the Labor Party’s arts policy is an indication of the success we’ve had in getting traction with issues around the arts; the fact that the Greens have such a robust arts policy is also indicative of the fact that people see it as an issue where there’s a lot of interest.”

AICSA released a statement today that also welcomed the announcement on the weekend that the State Government would return $7.7 million to the SA arts budget and invest in the upgrade of Her Majesty’s Theatre.

“In the current landscape of investment in the arts, the South Australian Government’s announcements over the weekend offer hope to a sector that is losing artists and arts leaders to other sectors of the economy, and to other states such as Victoria where there has recently been an increase, in real terms, of funding for cultural industries,” said Kovatseff.

“AICSA encourages the South Australian Government to continue its investment in the arts … Funding for the small to medium sector, community engagement and independent artists remains at an all-time low and needs urgent investment.”

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