RT talk

Grease—The Mega Stoush/h5>
On our Post page, Zane Trow spits chips at the Australia Council’s controversial funding, as he sees it, to assist a commercial entrepreneur’s audience development. He and the Council’s Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Bott also thrashed it out on Radio National’s Arts Today last month. The argument has been taken up by others like Lyndon Terracini on ABC TV’s new arts program Coast to Coast. His Queensland Biennial Festival of Music focused strongly and successfully on creatively engaging communities. In the July issue of the Australia Council News, outgoing Chair Margaret Seares expands on the motivation for this project:

“This initiative is targeted at the major ‘disinclined’ group identified through our Promoting the Value of the Arts research, that is, regional males who have rarely, if ever, been to any form of theatre or arts event…. It’s is not about funding Grease, nor about taking money away from arts organisations that might otherwise have received it. It is about getting the disinclined group off the couch and out the door, heading in the direction of positive views about the activities we group loosely as ‘the arts.’ We are not funding the production or the tour itself. Our funding provides 4 modules making up a community outreach program in the 40 locations Grease will be visiting. They are workshops for local artists with the company’s key artistic and technical staff; an education kit for upper primary and secondary students and their teachers focussing on the student’s own creativity and the artistic process; linking with youth through local youth organisations; media relations skills development for local arts organisations. All modules are provided at no cost to participants. Our collaboration with the Really Useful Company has allowed us to in effect ‘piggyback’ on their investiment, risk and tour organisation work, allowing us to provide this program nationally through much of regional Australia at a very modest cost—about $5,000 per town. Most excitingly, it is providing access to over half a million Australians—many of whom would see themselves as disengaged or disinclined to support ‘the arts.’”

The curious thing about the Australia Council’s pursuit of the disinclined is its attitude to the ‘interested’ (the ‘inclined’ of the Saatchi & Saatchi survey)—is this lot already secured as an arts audience?

News on the training front

VCA Discovery Day on Sunday August 19 offers prospective students advice on courses plus the opportunity to see student work in all the schools including a performance by Company 2001, 12 final year VCA Drama students who have been working with Gregori Ditiyatkovski of the Maly Drama Theatre, St Petersburg on a production of Maxim Gorky’s Children of the Sun, running August 18-September 1.

August 6-12 marks the inauguration of a new partnership between The Seymour Group and the Tasmanian Conservatorium, a 3 year project which will allow students access to a high level performing ensemble, at the same time providing the Seymour Group with an opportunity to develop their national performance profile.

Melbourne Fringe and the Myer Foundation believe the arts desperately need a new generation of entrepreneurial creative producers to ensure their long term health and vibrancy. “Recently, a number of university based arts management courses have been introduced as fee-paying post-graduate diplomas. These courses offer structured accredited learning in a range of arts administration and management responsibilities. But what is desperately needed is hands-on mentor-based training to cultivate producing talent.” An Associate Producer Training Program will be piloted during the 2001 Melbourne Fringe Festival (September 23-October 14). Another significant development is Curatorial Lab, a collaboration between Melbourne’s 200 Gertrude St Gallery and Brisbane’s Metro Arts to encourage young curators.

New Music Week August 13-19, a week long festival organised by the University of Western Australia in Perth features the music of composer-in-residence Gerard Brophy along with performances by Trash, WASO New Music Ensemble, Magnetic Pig, Adam Pinto, we bOp, Guitarstrophe and Spiked. Also featued are works by Roger Smalley, Lindsay Vickery, Dominik Karsky, Richard Thorpe, Cathie Travers and more. Information 08 94841133 or 08 93802054

Collectors on a budget

First Floor is an artist-run gallery which relies predominantly on artists paying to exhibit, the voluntary work of the committee and events such as the forthcoming 1st Floor Fundraiser Exhibition. This is an opportunity to view and purchase artworks priced between $100 and $1000 by some of Australia’s leading contemporary artists including Stephen Bram, Pat Brassington, Martine Corompt, Adam Cullen, Aleks Danko, Kate Ellis, Julia Gorman, Brent Harris, David Jolly, David Noonan, Nat and Ali, Sean Meilak, Callum Morton, Alex Pittendrigh, David Rosetzky, Jacinta Schreuder, Ricky Swallow, Lyndal Walker, Vivienne Shark LeWitt and many more. August 8-25. 03 934734346, email

Fringe Acts

The Melbourne Fringe Festival (September 23-October 14) has nabbed Neil Thomas and The Urban Dream Capsule team who more usually inhabit the windows of the world’s department stores—most recently Sears in Chicago—who regroup as The Museum of Modern Oddities to occupy an old hardware shop in Johnston Street Collingwood for 3 months from August 30. The shop was run by the same proprietor until he retired in his 80s, leaving the contents intact. Also featured in the Fringe is Spencer Tunick, the photographic artist from New York who creates large scale public performances by getting people to drop their gear and lie down in the street. Recently in Montreal, Tunick got 2000 to strip for art. Watch for the stampede to “a very public place” in Melbourne.
Visit the Fringe website

International Successes

From 180 applications worldwide for the inaugural Llangollen International Instrumentalist competition in North Wales, Australian Claire Edwardes was the only percussionist selected. Her performance of Druckman’s marimba solo Reflections on the Nature of Water and Xenakis’ drum piece Rebounds was enough to land her the trophy and the 15,000 pounds.

Pity prizes for radio don’t attract quite the same booty. Nevertheless, given the treatment of artists at the ABC lately, producers Sherre DeLys and Russell Stapleton are probably happy enough with the accolades for winning the Grand Prix for Art and Sound Design in the 2001 Phonurgia Nova awards in France. These prestigious prizes are made for works exploring the creative potential of radio. Their work, Containers, for The Listening Room is composed entirely from recordings made at Sydney Harbour and Port Botany on a single day. You can hear it on ABC Classic FM 402 on September 3. Jim Denley, another regular contributor to The Listening Room shared equal second prize in the Fiction section with For You, Me and the Stars.

Sonorous Bodies, the video-installation/performance by Judith Wright and Liza Lim is going to the Hebbel Theatre in Berlin, September 22-23. Premiered by ELISION at the 3rd Asia Pacific Triennial in 1999 this sensual work features Satsuki Odamura on koto. After Berlin, the ELISION soloists tour to Bergen, Oslo and Trondheim in Norway.

Performance Space & MCA live on

In RealTime 42 Fiona Winning, Artistic Director of Performance Space, announced that because of impossibly high rent the organisation would have to leave its home. No alternative venue had been found. However, in a media release of June 13, PS announced that: “After lengthy discussions with NSW Ministry, Performance Space has received a letter from the Director General Roger Wilkins which in summary states: 1. The NSW Government recognises Performance Space as a ‘pivotal part of the performing arts sector’ and a ‘key industry support mechanism.’ They have prioritised the resolution of our venue crisis as being of critical importance. 2. The Premier and Minister for the Arts has approved a one–off grant to assist Performance Space to maintain its current program of activities. The NSW Government is also seeking further funds for next year, to ensure we continue to be able to run Cleveland Street as a venue in the short term while the long term ‘home’ is sought and secured.”

RealTime co-editor Keith Gallasch has just completed a 10 day stint reporting the Queensland Biennial Festival of Music from the Brisbane Powerhouse Centre for the Live Arts, a magnificent contemporary arts complex. Not surprisingly he wants one for
Sydney–for Performance Space.

After being submitted to architectural phantasmagoria and crazed talk of relocating the MCA, all lovers of contemporary art took heart from the Friday July 13 announcement that the NSW Government has at last made a substantial and long term commitment to Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Arts at its current Circular Quay-side location.

RealTime issue #44 Aug-Sept 2001 pg. 16

© RealTime ; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 August 2001