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New home for STC, State Opera in $47m arts spend

The state government will spend $47 million across a range of initiatives for the arts and creative industries under tomorrow’s State Budget, InDaily can reveal.

Jun 05, 2024, updated Jun 05, 2024
The state government will spend $47 million on arts initiatives in the 2024/25 State Budget. Photo: Jack Fenby.

The state government will spend $47 million on arts initiatives in the 2024/25 State Budget. Photo: Jack Fenby.

The creation of an arts investment fund, new accommodation for major arts organisations and the extension of a partnership with the ABC make up the state government’s commitments to the sector in the 2024/25 State Budget.

To be announced tomorrow at the State Budget lockup, the state government’s arts commitments total $47 million.

An arts investment fund will be established which the state government said would provide about $5 million per year to “drive strategic initiatives across arts, culture and creative industries”.

A further $19 million will be spent over the next three years on developing new fit-for-purpose accommodation for the State Theatre Company, State Opera and Country Arts South Australia.

Another $7.2 million will go towards an extension of the South Australian Film Corporation’s (SAFC) partnership with the ABC.

SAFC and the ABC create television productions under the partnership which was established in 2023 via a $5.2 million state government investment. So far, the collaboration has funded season two of children’s show Beep and Mort and drama series Ladies in Black starring Debi Mazar and Miranda Otto.

The government said the $47 million followed “significant investment in the arts” including the $35 million Adelaide Festival Centre upgrade, extra funds for the Adelaide Fringe, Adelaide Festival and Adelaide Film Festival, and $8 million for small/medium arts organisation grants.

Treasurer Stephen Mullighan said the state’s cultural institutions were “vitally important to our state”.

“Our new arts investment fund will provide an additional $5 million per year to drive targeted investment in strategic initiatives and activities to engage South Australians with arts and culture,” he said.

Arts Minister Andrea Michaels said the $47 million would continue to support the arts sector.

“Opportunities to experience arts and culture are essential for the wellbeing of South Australians and helps shape our understanding of the world, its past and present,” she said.

“South Australia is renowned for its extraordinary arts and culture and the Malinauskas Government is committed to supporting and growing that legacy for the future.”

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InDaily asked Michaels a range of questions including who would be responsible for allocating funds from the arts investment fund and for more detail on the new accommodation for the three arts institutions, but did not receive a response before deadline.

InDaily also asked whether the state government would consider further support for ailing live music venues via another extension of the See It Live grants program.

The announcement follows the closure of several live music venues and nightclubs in Adelaide – the most recent being queer venue My Lover Cindi, which said it could not keep operating during the cost of living crisis.

“The simple answer is that maintaining the exorbitant costs of a night-time venue has been near impossible for the whole three years, and finally at this point we can no longer continue,” co-owners Kate Toone and Rachel Hosking announced via their Instagram post.

Further, it comes as the state government is developing a State Cultural Policy, which it hopes will “usher in a new era for the arts”.

A spokesperson for the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) – within which the arts portfolio resides – told InDaily earlier this year that the policy is due to be handed down in “the first part of the 24/25 financial year”.

It also follows an impassioned speech from Premier Peter Malinauskas at the Festival City ADL South Australian Festival and Event Policy Forum in May where he said claims his government cares more about sports than the arts were “outrageous”.

He said the government’s approach was a spirit of “inclusivity”, noting that “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure”.

“It’s true that people who attend the Adelaide 500 are less likely to be seen at the opera, and it’s true that people who attend high arts and the opera are less likely to be losing their voice [at the Adelaide Oval] screaming for a footy team,” he said at the event.

“But that is the whole idea. That is what we should be celebrating. We should be aspiring to invest in each and every one of these things so no matter what your interests, no matter what your taste, you find a home here in South Australia.”

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