The secret life of touring

RealTime-Performance Space forum, November 5

INTRODUCTION

Fiona Winning, Artistic Director, Performance Space opened this RealTime-Performance Space forum on touring:

Fiona Winning
Tonight, at this the 7th of the RealTime-Performance Space forums, I’m delighted to be co-facilitating with Rachael Swain from the Stalker and Marrugeku companies. We’re joined by many guests with a wealth of experience, from conceptualising work for touring to brokering relationships with presenters and festivals, to developing strategic initiatives to support touring, to promoting and managing tours and of course, to making it happen technically and artistically, dealing with the practical and cultural differences involved in getting the work on.

One of the reasons for planning tonight’s session is that many artists who work here at Performance Space and in the performance milieu along with presenters like Performance Space and PICA in Perth and the funding bodies have expressed a real concern about the immense artistic and economic investment in making new works from conceptualisation to rehearsal to production that are only shown for a week or 2. It doesn’t make good artistic or economic sense. And artists always want to have another crack at it–to apply what they’ve learned from their first audience in order to make and deepen the work. But audiences too are anxious to be able to see work from outside their own state.

Ironically, it’s sometimes more possible to get international tours up than it is to organise something interstate. So tonight’s forum is partly to map out some of the territory in this immensely complex area which encompasses regional, national and international touring to independent venues and cultural centres, inclusion in festival programming, even the odd Australia-themed festival. And then there are the issues for artists and companies who are self-managing or who are secure in relationships with agents or managers. Trying to navigate the maze of long paddocks, cyber paddocks, blue heelers (which I hadn’t heard of till I started researching this forum), Playing Australia and Arts on Tour.

We’ll concentrate tonight on national and international touring because that seems to be where the heat is for many of the artists who talk to us and we’d like to get to the point of talking strategies for addressing some of the issues that are raised tonight.

VISION & THE 3Cs of TOURING

Rachael Swain
I was asked to give an overview from the position of an artistic director of a company with a heavy touring schedule. I wanted to state from the outset that this is not an impartial position. I’m not going to talk at this stage about the nuts and bolts of touring but to pose some of those “nasty irrational artistic” type questions about touring. In keeping with the title of tonight’s session, The Secret Life of Touring, I thought I might share some of my secret thoughts about touring, as I’ve spent most of my adult life on tour. In Stalker’s long term touring life there have been performances and places that have been pivotal in the company’s creative life. Others have been among the most depressing and negative experiences I’ve had as a performer and director.

Both good and bad, these tours made enormous impression on the company’s direction and vision. There are performances I remember like Belgrade in 1993, on Elcho Island in 1996 and Caracas last year which had defining impact on the company’s future creative projects, which forged bonds within the touring ensemble and the host artistic communities and which still bear fruit. These tours had a deep impact on our body of work and I’m told are still remembered by audiences. And there were others. Ah yes, there were others. Performances which felt misplaced or lost on the audience or presented in ways which meant that the work was actually unreadable. And I think many of you here know that this is a desperately disillusioning experience. This is the first of my secret thoughts on touring. A company can feed its soul by touring but a company can also lose its soul to touring which may eventually lead to losing a company entirely. I think that this is something that almost happened to Stalker at times and I see it potentially happening to other Australian companies.

There are 3 C words that I find present in the best of my touring experiences–present at times when I’ve felt something great has happened between the audience and the performers. The first is Context. In what context are we placing our work? How do we contextualise where it comes from for foreign audiences, in urban or remote community Australian audiences. Is there any context for our work in the particular country that we’re talking about. The second is Community. Who are we creating our work for? Are we really reaching that community. In what form can exchange take place? The third word is Communion, a depth of shared experience where something occurs which touches and changes those present. This makes the work more than the sum of its parts, a profound exchange between an audience and a live performance.

When a performance is presented in a foreign context and each of these 3 factors has been considered, carefully produced and each is in play in a complex dialogue of exchange, there is the potential for something really great to happen. Live performance does not exist without an audience and an audience is not a neutral thing. An audience is forged by socio-political cultural and artistic climates lived out in an active way. When we tour our shows we bring our work into this context. In the dynamic field between the audience’s memory and perception and our work that thing called live performance takes place. Surely these are the issues which feed us as touring companies, that is companies that create work for audiences from numerous cultural and multicultural perspectives. It’s navigating these questions which is the essence of why particularly as artistic directors we want to tour our work in the first place. Or is it that we want to rush in, wave our flag, and rush out with a bit more cash to keep our struggling companies afloat? And I know these are difficult questions, especially when companies (and I include ours in this) often survive on earned income from international touring. So perhaps it’s not secretly but quietly I’d like to put on the table the idea of being selective in offering works to festivals or presenters who we feel have the vision and experience to contextualise our work. The producing issues and creative implications for touring go hand in hand. My last secret thought is that it’s a producing vision that is investigative, intelligent and risk-taking which is necessary to produce great touring work and to sustain the heart and soul of a company. Often this is put in place long before the nuts and bolts of a tour have been worked through.

THE ARTIST AS CONTEXT

FW
We might take that idea of a producing vision as a way of introducing Justin Macdonnell (Macdonnell Promotions), Marguerite Pepper (Marguerite Pepper Productions) and Wendy Blacklock (Performing Lines). We’re very interested in hearing from the 3 of you what you’re doing at the moment, and particularly where that producing vision comes in for you?

Marguerite Pepper
I am perceived as a commercial producer. MPP receives no government funding. For me, there is no work that we produce that hasn’t gone through an enormous amount of workshopping with the artist or ensemble involved about where those artists want to go. It’s about trying to sit with the company and think about the long term strategies, sometimes even before the work exists. With say, Gideon Obarzanek and Chunky Move, Gideon came to me and said I want to come home, to work in Australia I want to work with my dancers. And together we created a strategy whereby we created Chunky Move and that first tour of Bonehead which was sold before the work existed. And also with Garry Stewart and Thwack which has since become the Australian Dance Theatre. That was a long range strategy to try and find the money, the touring circuits nationally and very successfully now, internationally, for Garry’s work to evolve. And his current work, Birdbrain has toured very successfully to Galway, to Korea, throughout Australia, US and Canada to sold out seasons. That work took 6 years to get to that stage. So, for me it’s about working with the artist, contextualising the work and building strategies to tour.

I have to say that at MPP because we are not funded, we have to find other ways to tour as well. Tony Strachan might want to talk about Chrome who are currently in Japan en route to Singapore for a blatantly commercial gig. And the way that works for us is by putting the company into a context where they feel comfortable in evolving work and accumulating cash which can be put into developmental areas which they need. So Context, Community and Communion are critical. I do, however, also have to compromise because it is about survival. And we all make mistakes putting work into the wrong context. And for me, the artist comes first and it’s about finding a way for artists to find work. It’s about working with people you trust and building on their networks. The key issue is how we fund those long range strategies as the market becomes more sophisticated.

A LATIN AMERICAN VENTURE

Justin Macdonnell
I guess I approach it increasingly from the opposite end of the telescope. For us it’s all about international touring. We do very little domestic touring. In fact, we’ve just taken a policy decision to shed all of our Australian clients. We’re going to work exclusively in the import and export market and only in relation to the Latin American market which I’ve developed over the last 12 years. So, increasingly my approach has been rather to consider the market which in my case is the Latin American market, a very broad context although it has certain overarching features. We’re talking about 230 million people in a dozen countries, and to consider what work might be appropriate for that context rather than seeking to contextualise the work actively. Of course, the 2 go hand in hand. But for me the more interesting thing is to consider what happens there, what context the festivals, presenters, the circuits, the theatres can offer us and to consider what might be appropriate for them.

I think the process is the same as Marguerite and Rachael are talking about but it’s looked at from a different point of view because I’ve made this area something of a specialty. We’ve just done our 80th tour to Latin America in 12 years, touring things large and small. Increasingly, the thing that most interests me is the opportunity to do a mixture of work in a single context. For example, at the Cervantino Festival in Mexico we had 6 Australian performing arts entities, 2 from New Zealand, a visual arts exhibition, a film program, 2 novelists and a couple of historians dealing with aspects of Australian society and reflections in and through Mexican history and society going on at the same time. For me, that was a particularly rich context in which to operate in a very beautiful city in a very interesting part of Mexico, to think about the kinds of things that would be appropriate and the mixture of artists and artforms that might be appropriate to stimulate discussion, to get interesting responses. I should add that all of this was accompanied by what seemed at times like an endless series of workshops giving opportunities for exchange between artists, Australian and Mexican in particular but others too. We’re doing similar things in Colombia, Venezuela, Costa Rica and Brazil in the next 12 months.

FW
Which companies did you present in Mexico?

JM
Sydney Dance Company, Stalker, Strange Fruit, Don Burrows, Roger Woodward, Richard Walley and Two Tribes, an Aboriginal funk hip hop band from Western Australia. We also had an exhibition by Australian landscape artist, Mandy Martin, a film program, David Malouf, Nicholas Jose and 2 historians, one from Latrobe and another from Canberra University.

THE NATIONAL-INTERNATIONAL NEXUS

Wendy Blacklock
Unlike Justin and Marguerite, Performing Lines is funded on a triennial basis by the Theatre Board of the Australia Council. That doesn’t really stop us from believing that we can also do things like contemporary dance if we’re lucky enough to receive a special grant or a project grant from the Dance Board. We’ve never wanted to be seen as a company that deals with only one particular kind of work. So we’ve always had a quite varied program. As we’re funded by the Theatre Board, it’s funding to tour in Australia. When we first started there was no Playing Australia and so the tours that we did were very limited because we had to fund all the accommodation, freight and airfares. With the advent of Playing Australia which we’ve been lucky enough to get funding from over the last few years, tours have become much longer because we can financially support those places which can’t afford to buy the show.

For those of you who don’t know the system of touring within Australia, we use a combination of selling off the product, doing a split of the funds needed, or actually financing the whole thing ourselves. So it’s meant that in many cases that we’re able to mount longer tours. When we first started I felt that because we were a national company it was important to do a tour with a company and then move on to help another one. I realised this was not sensible because it needed, in many cases, a showcase one year to get the company out of its home state, to allow it to be seen by venue managers, to gain interest for it. The following year, we might do a national tour and then a year after that, an international tour.

I started touring in 1982 with an Aboriginal show that went to a theatre festival in Denver Colorado. But the first 10 years it was only Aboriginal work that I actually toured overseas to festivals, and during the Bicentennial. Now we’re finding a lot of Australian work is being invited to festivals overseas. This year, we’ve got 6 productions going to 13 countries. Some of them are one-person shows (like William Yang) and others like The Theft of Sita we’ve got 25 puppeteers and musicians tottering around the world.

RS
Are there countries that you focus on?

WB
No. What has happened is that because of the [Australia Council's] Performing Arts Markets and the number of people who are coming to Australia and seeing the work, our network grows and grows. You send a company and you make friends with the people and then they say what else do you have in Australia? We’re not an agent, or a manager. And so if anybody asks, we’re extremely happy to suggest anybody that we know of who might be of interest. And we build. We find we’re going back to the same places. But, as you know, festival directors all talk among themselves. Performing Lines is not funded to do the international work but the international work is feeding the Australian work back home. I’ve never discussed this with the Theatre Board. They seem to be quite happy that we continue to get the product overseas. And it seems to me very sensible if that’s the only place you can make money. You certainly can’t make money in Australia. Last year, because of one season in Germany we paid the entire deficit for an Australian tour of Nikki Heywood’s Burn Sonata which was quite a controversial show, quite difficult, limited audiences. But it was good to know that we’d made enough on something else be able to support that work.

RS
Marguerite and Justin, is it the same issue for you? You make money on the international tours and not the national ones?

JM
It’s certainly my perception. I don’t do much within the country. But to take Marrugeku as an example, we could never have got Crying Baby off the ground or capitalised had we relied on the domestic market. Indeed, we probably wouldn’t even have tried to do the show in the first instance. The only way that show has broken in is through income earned internationally.

Annette Tesoriero
Why is this the case? Are Australians not interested?

Participant
Our company has survived on domestic, intrastate, national (and international) touring. Whatever fees we can earn anywhere go back to help the artists keep the work in repertoire and on the road. For me it’s about keeping artists employed and finding a match in the marketplace where we can all get paid.

WB
I should explain, we have artists who we assist because they have no administrative infrastructure–people like William Yang with his slide show/ performances. If William makes some money in one place, we save it as a backstop for him when freight runs over or there’s a problem somewhere else. So that’s William’s money. A show like The Theft of Sita which was funded by the [Federal Government's] Major Festivals Initiative so we didn’t have to pay any money to get it up, has been very successful, but it is not a show that is going to continue on for a long time. We’ve produced 5 of William’s shows and he keeps on doing them. But the people in The Theft of Sita are all freelance artists and with 25 of them it’s very hard to get them all together. So, I didn’t anticipate that they would continue touring. If they make money, it goes back to helping another company.

A NATIONAL PROBLEM

Annette Tesoriero
Are there other issues besides population and distance that affect the potential to make money on tours in Australia?

MP
I think it depends on the level of the touring circuit. In Australia, the delivery mechanism into Playing Australia is venue driven and incredibly sophisticated. So there's this “cyber paddock, long paddock, blue heelers”…There’s a whole kind of level of getting your product up on the web, having the product assessed by all the venues who then decide on what they want to tour, that going through a selection process to a short list, the short list going to a forum called Long Paddock where everyone sits around and gets presentations from producers. Short list, short list, do your Playing Australia application. Bid for it. I think this year there was $6 million worth of applications of which $2 million got up. And I’m sure Wendy had more than one in there. I got one up. Wendy got one up. The whole Made to Move contemporary dance circuit funded Sydney Dance, Bangarra and Phillip Adams. In previous years, it’s had at least 5 companies.

So what is happening in the major touring mechanism in Australia, because that system is venue driven, the decisions are made by the venues on a product basis, the decision-making process has become middle class, middle brow. There’s nobody driving another agenda that’s about getting these venues to take more experimental work, other than the festival circuit which at the moment in Australia is not looking terribly healthy for many Australian companies doing performance-based work.

INTERNATIONAL TOURING: WHO PAYS?
WB
And the international festivals are prepared to pay more than the Australian festivals.

MP
But it costs you more to get there. Unless you have the privilege of having long range strategies and you’ve got your Arts Market showcase and are part of whatever the new strategy is at the Australia Council, you need money to get there. So is it cheaper to do a tour of Australia or is it cheaper to do a tour overseas? You have to rationalise this. I’ve just been through it with ADT. Yes they’ve done their first international tour. Yes, it sold out. What did that tour cost the company? It cost them a lot. Now they can afford to do it because they have close to a million dollars a year and that first tour is about creating the profile and infrastructure to give them a touring circuit for the next 3 years which they will have. But for us as independent artists, managers and producers, it costs a lot to tour overseas. A lot of international festivals won’t pay international airfares. They expect the Australian government to chip in. And the Australia Council can’t assist everyone who wants to set up an international tour. Every first international tour loses money, unless you’re a major artist.

JM
It depends on why you’re doing it in the first place. You may well make a strategic decision that it is in your interest to do this for exposure, for length of run and you’re prepared to invest an amount of money to do it within the country or internationally. Equally, it might be a completely idle activity and I would say about 40% of international touring from this country or any other is done for reasons of vanity and little else. It contributes little to their economic base, only marginally to their exposure. And I think of some of those tours to some of the more glamorous parts of the world by some of our larger companies.

So I think there are all kinds of reasons people do things. Not all of them are as transparent as we might hope. However, when there are good reasons that contribute to the economic basis of the organisation, that contribute to exposure or its opportunity to exchange or develop its artistic profile or enrich its own activity then I think the best thing to do is to make sure somebody else is paying for the whole thing. And that leads me to ask not only why you are doing it but why there? Why that particular place. It does seem to me that there’s a lot of very curious touring that goes on to places which never in a fit are going to pay you enough to justify the activity, whether it’s somehow artificially subsidised or not. We have a terrible tendency to give things away to societies that can well afford to pay for them. We subsidise tours and other kinds of activities that could pay if we were operating on any rational exchange basis.

WB
I’m interested in what you’re saying because I’m finding that more and more, the festivals that we’re going to are paying the airfares, the freight…

MP
That’s because of the long term relationship you have with them.

JM
I agree with you.

WB
There are a few new ones this year and I’ve just said to them I’m sorry, if you want this show, we haven’t got the money and we’re not going to ask the Australia Council, so they’re paying.

THE INDEPENDENT ARTIST TOURS

FW
Amanda Stewart is an artist who has travelled a lot independently in Europe and the US, but also with the company Machine for Making Sense

Amanda Stewart
There’s a massive discrepancy in the fees between here and overseas. It can be something like 10 or 20 times the amount. In the wealthy European countries, there are so many layers to the arts infrastructure there, I don’t see how we can catch up. I don’t know if it’s still the case, it’s one of those cliched things you hear that the artsbudget of Frankfurt is equivalent to the budget of the Australia Council. Even their commercial spaces are government funded so there’ll be a tier of gigs. I work in the music area and I’m also working lots of different niches which is how I manage to survive. I find that the money that’s available…a whole lot of touring has been able to occur. Unless you get in the loop…It’s like here, if you’ve got contacts… you know, someone comes to see your show and says hey, come and work with me. And unless you can invest 5 or 8 years of establishing those contacts, then go away for a couple of years and come back and then you’ll have enough groundwork…

MP
One of the reasons for touring is that you’re making contacts and extending your own networks. So if you’re an artist with aspirations to learn about yourself and about your own community, then being exposed in another community is actually a really good challenge. Justin has invested many years for nothing in creating what is now a very successful circuit. You have to start somewhere and try and position yourself somewhere. If you’re going to go and perform if, say, Berlin’s the first staging post, you choose Berlin because you know the right people are going to be there to serve as a springboard..

AS
It’s a desperate scramble for gigs. People not returning faxes and emails and you end up slitting your wrists because you met them last year and they’re not responding…

FW
“Follow the bouncing ball”, as you described it to me. And you’re also self-managing which is also a fairly intense proposition as an artist, I imagine.

AS
We’ve had a few low key people helping in Europe. I think it's what you were saying about finding someone that you fit in with… I think what you want from an agent is new contacts. Okay you can have 15% commission from one of my contacts if you come up with the goods. Several times, mainly in the context of Machine for Making Sense we’ve done that, and end up just getting one pissy little gig at $500 each. Meanwhile they’ve taken 15% commission of our $5000 gig. So depending on the context, I’m very careful about that. I think working as a solo performer it’s much easier to put yourself in different niches and you can get different sorts of work. Travelling a whole theatre production which is something I know Nigel Kellaway has done, that’s just mind boggling, the logistics and costs.

MANDATORY TOURING
FW
Nigel Kellaway is the director of The opera Project who have done their most recent Australian tour, The Berlioz: Our Vampires Ourselves, involving venues which are not on the official venue circuit, although Brisbane’s Powerhouse increasingly is. The production also went to Salamanca Arts Centre in Hobart and was to go to PICA in Perth till that was cancelled.

NK
For The opera Project and for other companies I’ve worked with, touring is not just important, it’s mandatory. Quite a number of years ago, I would always do a 3 week season in Performance Space. Now I’m doing 2 week seasons. And I see a lot of seasons that go up for 4 nights. Bump in Monday, open Wednesday/Thursday, close Sunday. I don’t think you ever get a show right first time. There’s no way it can be finished particularly if you’re only doing 4 nights. Now you’re not going to get another season in Sydney or your home base so you have to go out and find another audience. And those audiences are very important. For example I toured a lot in Perth over about 11 years; I would have played 7 or 8 works at PICA and obviously you develop an audience. But that’s not always the case. You’re often touring to places you haven’t been before and this is suddenly putting your work out to an audience that has a completely different history of theatre watching. They’re going to compare what you have to say, they’re going to put your work into an entirely new context of other work they’ve seen. And that’s very important.

Fiona asked me to talk about the practicalities of touring with Playing Australia funding. Very briefly, The opera Project is a self-managing organisation. Because of the various roles that I play in the company (general manager, artistic director, performer and tour manager), I’ve actually had to wait for venues to come shopping to me. Probably if I was better set up I would be out there hunting and I’ve been talking to Wendy recently and she’s very aware that I’d like to get the company’s work out. I was approached by Rosemary Miller at Salamanca Arts Centre for The Berlioz which was made 4 years ago. She went into partnership with Zane Trow (Brisbane Powerhouse) and Sarah Miller (PICA) and put forward an application which covered basically the re-mount costs, our touring costs (freight and airfares) and also a guarantee against loss. So, obviously the producing theatres are going to try and put their projected box office figures up as high as possible (while still being acceptable). Those organisations then have to be able to front–and these are not festivals with festival budgets. They have funding from state and federal levels. They have to come up with the fee that I need to take the company and obviously, their theatre costs, advertising and so on. As it happened, PICA had to pull out of the deal because they didn’t have that base money. The amount that Playing Australia gives doesn’t pay for a work to go up. It pays a proportion. Playing Australia will take on applications from particular companies. You can apply as long as you’ve got 3 venues. So it’s really a choice of whether the venues are going to make the application for you or whether you do the hard work yourself. I know which way I’d prefer–for the venues to do the actual application on our behalf.

Rachael Swain
We convinced Playing Australia once to fund a tour of a work of ours that was presented free in remote Aboriginal communities throughout Arnhem Land. In that case there was no box office and there weren’t any venues. So they were flexible enough to take that on board although they do have a hideous application form.

Marguerite Pepper
I’ve just got funding for REM’s Kookaburra That Stole The Moon, an orchestral work for children for 16 venues over 3 weeks. They’re paying airfares and freight, accommodation and per diems. I plan to challenge them with Jon Rose’s next project which is playing with the fences of Australia where there is no audience except for the sheep. But it is called Playing Australia so they should live up to their name.

RS
Nigel, is it by choice that you sell your own work?

NK
Would I be so silly? Absolutely not, that’s why I’ve approached Performing Lines, although as Wendy says, she doesn’t sell work as such, but I will take assistance from absolutely anybody.

PROBLEMS WITH PLAYING AUSTRALIA

Wendy Blacklock
What worries me is that if you look at Playing Australia they had so many applications and were able to fund so few, there is very little new work. I had 2 applications in and one was something that I thought I should do because I thought my charter is to take work to regional areas. So it’s much more middle of the road. They funded that. They didn’t fund the one that really needs it which is the groundbreaking, the more difficult, the work that’s done here at Performance Space. And that to me is a real problem. I despair about this work. Who’s going to support it if Playing Australia isn’t?

FW
There’s been a lot of talk about venues and the circuits and that mostly doesn’t include Performance Space or PICA and it’s only just beginning to include Brisbane Powerhouse because they have a larger budget.

WB
For years I’ve toured works to PICA, to Dancehouse, to Tasmania, to Performance Space that have been supported by Playing Australia. Now, there has to be some lobbying done about the new work. Otherwise, it will all be middle of the road. They say we must support work that can go to the regions but the work that some do is not necessarily ready to go to the regions.

MP
There’s so much product up on that website that most venues have no idea unless someone’s funding the regionals to come in an see the work or they’ve got an aggressive producer like me on the phone saying this is a fabulous show and we can deliver and it’s relatively cheap. If anything comes out of this forum, it should be the long term planning and how that’s funded. When Playing Australia round was announced last time, I was so disappointed. I was very grateful that one of my projects got up. But it’s so predictable. The touring opera company. The touring ballet company. The touring Sydney Dance Company. The touring 4 or 5 major theatre companies, Circus Oz. I mean, I wouldn’t want to decide because the competition’s so great. Legs on the Wall, Flying Fruitfly Circus didn’t get up. 100% of the innovative work didn’t get up. And I think, fine for there to be a venue driven model. Great that the venues are getting high quality work at massive prices from the Sydney Dance Company, or Sydney Theatre Company but where is the developmental circuit? Because without that they might as well forget about it.

I think that a developmental circuit needs to be driven by a committee of artists and alternative venues who can get together and say allocate $200,000 a year to a developmental circuit, whatever that means in the eyes of that constituency. In the regional venues there’s an enormous fear about presenting contemporary dance because they believe there’s no audience. How do you break down that barrier? You’ve got to work collaboratively with those venues about ways they can come on board and take the risk. Because if they’re not starting to conceptualise how they can present work that’s outside the mainstream. In 10 years time they’ll be touring Run For Your Wife.

NK
It’s also a question of what they might be presenting in the context of what’s available within their own state. Rosemary Miller (Salamanca) and Zane Trow (Brisbane Powerhouse) have been having some discussions over the past few months. They’re making selections themselves as artistic directors of their organisations. What a difference it would make if I knew that I was going in to make work here at Performance Space knowing that it was almost secured that in 2 years time it was going to go touring. It would make me approach the work in such a different way.

For venues, instead of saying let’s look and see what’s available now, Playing Australia applications are due, rather, look at particular groups and say it would be good or useful for say Hobart to see not just one work of, for instance, The opera Project but more as there is not another company in Hobart making work quite like it. To say, okay we’re going to invest in this and in 2 years we’ll bring you back with your next work. Now I’m not exactly sure what that work is going to be but I know there’s a future for it. So there are alternatives. So in a way, a company becomes almost part of a venue's residency program and part of their audience over a number of years.

QUARANTINING FUNDS FOR THE INNOVATORS

Justin Macdonnell
Has anyone ever asked Playing Australia whether they were prepared to quarantine some money? They did it for Made to Move. Maybe the first simple step would be to ask the question.

[Marguerite Pepper briefly raises the issue of an equivalent of the Major Festivals Initiative dedicated to funding smaller events and venues to commission innovative work.]

THE CHALLENGE OF DISTANCE
FW
Gregory Nash from Ausdance NSW, I noticed you nodding about the developmental circuit. I know you’ve been here for 10 months so I’m not quite sure how you’re looking at touring here in terms of your job here. But I know in Europe you had a lot of experience with the dance networks there. Would you like to comment on the situation here.

GN
I will, very briefly, because I think this discussion of the Australian context is very interesting. An expression I’ve heard a lot since I’ve been here is “the tyranny of distance” and when I worked at the British Council in London we could very easily broker relationships between Belgian and British dance companies because it’s only 2 hours away. And there’s so much dialogue and so much discourse between potential promoters or festivals or whatever. It’s much harder here. I still have to get some sense of the scale of the country. Hearing Nigel talk about Perth and Brisbane, thousands of kilometres away from each other, it’s very hard to get those close sorts of synergies going. Ausdance hasn’t been a producing organisation but for people looking at it from outside the country it’s a remarkable organisation because it’s a network of offices in nearly every state and territory (unfortunately Tasmania is no longer included). And you would have thought that that network would have been used to curate and develop some new work but it hasn’t. So it’s a wonderful model in terms of a network representing an artform. But it’s been so introspective in its history and so focussed on education that it hasn’t actually developed any new work. So the board of Ausdance NSW has identified that an absolute priority is support and infrastructural development for creation and presentation. Whether that model will develop and whether it’s taken on in other states and territories I don’t know. I hope it is because what I’m hearing from colleagues in the UK and Europe is that they would love to be presenting contemporary dance from Australia but they know the usual players–the Gideon Obarzanek’s and the Bangarras. Garry Stewart and ADT has been a surprise and that’s new and they’re getting their heads around that. But actually there’s real scope for a mixed program of shorter pieces by innovative Australian choreographers that could potentially tour nationally and internationally. But somebody has to work with the major festival directors. And I hope we’ll be doing that.

SOME PRACTICALITIES: A SMALL CAR

RS
Tony Strachan has a long history of touring with the street theatre company, Chrome and others.

Tony Strachan
I was asked to talk about some of the practicalities of touring. With a company such as Chrome, we’re not taking any box office so we’re relying on festival organisations around the world to have enough budget to employ us for a certain time during the festival or some sort of series of events within a precinct of a city. One consideration is that the production is very sturdy, that it can actually go into many different types of places and adapt to them. In our case we aim for a no fuss production where everything can fit into a car, a small car at that, and that you can stay within the luggage limits on aircraft. This makes us very mobile, easy and quick to move.The other issue is the trust between artists and management. We’re with MPP and have been for many years. And another is the adaptability factor.I remember when we were in New Orleans at an education conference some years ago, the show was dying in the bum, as they say. After the first show, we ran off to the dressing room and quickly found a way to make it work in the second part of our program. We were then judged by the people who saw us to have been a great success. But it could very easily have gone the other way.

In order to ensure that the context is right for the work you’re doing, it’s important to gather intelligence on the place or the festival. It’s important to arrive early and reconnoitre in our case because we adapt our work to physical space. And also you need to allow time to make any changes to the piece to fit it in. We try to incorporate pertinent threads of the place or the people into the work or in the case of Japan where we’ve just been, to actually use the language. Half the show is in Japanese which always amazes the Japanese.

Some of the things I’ve learned since I started touring as a young fella back in the 70s and 80s: to say no if you’re going to look stupid; to be more assertive with your basic physical logistical and scheduling requirements; and to listen to what the client really wants for their event. Perhaps they want a more performative show that stands on its own. Or they might want a more interactive approach. You have to listen carefully to what they say and try and respond.

RS
Are there other artists who can add to Tony’s comments? And perhaps there’s one thing that you do now that’s different from when you first started touring?

Amanda Stewart
I try not to do really bad schedules. If you push yourselves too hard, you can destroy the group.

NK
Put a deadline on the producing theatre to send really detailed plans of the theatre and tell them that they can’t get them by the deadline, there’s a very good chance that it’s not going to happen.

FW
Speaking of practicalities, we have Simon Wise, Mark Mitchell and Neil Simpson in the house. Amongst their many collective skills, these guys have also toured enormously around the country. Neil’s also on the Performing Arts Touring Committee of the NSW Ministry for the Arts. Perhaps you can answer Rachael’s question, Neil.

Neil Simpson
I just don’t share hotel rooms. No, I don’t know that I do anything differently really. I usually come on board very early in the piece, often as a collaborator as well on the work. For me that’s the benefit to the artists I’m working with and to the tour on the whole. I often have a good understanding from the very base of the making of the work. It’s more like the whole project leaves home, if you like. But I don’t think I’d do anything different–I could probably get paid better.

WB
Oh!

THE COSTS

NS
Probably! In the scale of things. I think in terms of individual project-based work which a lot of people in this room have been dealing with, is if it’s touring again then invariably there’s a huge time lag between the season and the tour. Invariably there are cast changes and so on. From the NSW Touring Committee’s point of view, we know that Playing Australia provides only travel and accommodations costs. No wages. So getting money upfront to re-mount a work is a huge difficulty. There are no funds for that.

RS
That’s a massive issue for us.

NK
Basically you’ve got to write it into your fees. So on paper, your fees look very big but in fact they’re only saying that they’re paying for one week of the show whereas in fact they’re paying for 3 weeks of salary to remount the thing when you haven’t done it for 4 years. It’s the only thing you can do.

JM
I must say, I’m finding increasingly those kinds of loadings are knocking people out of consideration. Producers simply won’t wear it.

NK
Is there an alternative?

MP
Tour for longer.

JM
The more you can amortise the costs of those things the better. And again, it depends on why you’re doing it in the first place and how much you’re prepared to invest in the process. I think companies might just have to look at wearing some of that cost themselves.

WB
Yes but some of the people here are project funded. They’re not companies. They haven’t got anything to fall back on.

JM
It’s a conundrum but sometimes 3 into 2 won’t go and if that’s the case, it just won’t get up.

NO TWO VENUES THE SAME

Simon Wise
I don’t think I’d change much of what I’ve done. I’d just have done it much more often and fall into holes much less often I hope. The main thing that’s frustrated me a lot over the years is that different places work very differently. Different venues aren’t the same as the original one. A lot of companies I’ve toured with are essentially putting things into a space. They’re usually quite flexible and it’s a matter of re-making the work for the space. Other companies have a piece of work that they want to reproduce and essentially push it into the venue. They want to make it the same as it was originally regardless. That’s been the biggest stumbling block I’ve come across regularly. This space isn’t the same shape as that space and these people are actually quite different from the ones you’ve played to, the crew has quite a different style of working. People who are not able to either very carefully select venues which are very close to the original or be flexible and re-work the piece to match the new venue will have problems. I’ve encountered this a lot and it’s a big problem and very hard to resolve.

RS
It’s similar to the point that Nigel has raised about the amount of resource that’s invested in that part of the process, be it site checking or remounting. It’s the kind of money that has to be spent to get a piece of work looking good in a festival, not just buying the show.

SW
A lot of it isn’t to do with money. A lot of it is to do with the gap between the expectation of the people who created it and other parts of the tour which are to do with the venue and bringing them in or whatever. You can often see this is going to be different and it’s often very hard to persuade people of that.

RS
I always go to whatever festival or country it is and check the site and meet the festival people, meet the publicity department, talk about their agendas and our company agendas, look at the venue. I spend 3 days looking at sites.

SW
Even half a day is really helpful if it’s a month in advance but that’s not always possible.

Terese Casu
Safety hasn’t come up. I come from a long history of touring physical theatre works and when you’re on the road you need, as Tony Strachan says, to say no or to really stand your ground about the time it takes to bump into a theatre. I’ve dealt with broken necks and people whose careers have just stopped because in a touring situation people have not taken into account appropriate safety levels. That’s something that I think Australians who are touring physical theatre all the time are learning.

THE MYSTERY OF SELECTION CRITERIA

Mark Mitchell
I like touring. The thing I’m most curious about is the process or the dialogues that go on around how a particular work is chosen in Australia. Whether it’s say artistic directors or the theme or idea of a festival overseas, whether they see a wide range of Australian works and select things that suit that festival. Because often they have a theme or a base concept. Or whether it’s the other way, whether it’s the agencies here, whether we have to promote and sell and interest them and they’ll simply choose a work and make it fit in. What is that two-way thing? How “Australian” it has to be or what is their concept of “Australian”? Or do they want something that’s “international” and that changes everything. Do the agencies here have to constantly offer a wide range of things to those artistic directors, or is it about aggressive marketing on the part of companies here?

RS
Ron Layne (Audience & Market Development, Australia Council) this sounds like your moment.

Ron Layne
Well, I don’t know. It’s probably a question better put to the agencies represented here. In a sense it’s a combination of all of those. It is about assertive marketing. If you’re representing a particular production or an artist then that’s your job but in the case of the Australia Council, it’s also our responsibility to ensure that new work, emerging artists are exposed internationally. That’s part of the challenge for us at the moment. We’ve begun to do some of that and there’s still an awfully long way to go. Most recently, for example, with RealTime we’ve produced a number of publications (In Repertoire: Music Theatre, Contemporary Dance, Contemporary Performance and Australia’s Indigenous Arts). Really, for us that’s just the first step. We then have to ensure that the information is disseminated effectively, strategically, that it’s updated. One of the new projects for us is to take the information that we’ve developed and take it to another level where we can continue to provide that information to overseas presenters and producers. I agree with Rachael about the 3 Cs. But I think it’s also about what Justin and others have talked about, the economics and good planning and networking and good information.

But I think that in some respects this discussion is suggesting that there’s a bit of a disjunction between the life cycle of a work and the funding mechanisms available. In the good old days there used to be a thing called a touring policy which I think has become somewhat fragmented in recent history. When you look around the world and see the ways other agencies deal with it, like the Canada Council, for example, they do it in a much more cohesive manner in terms of outreach activity. Whereas I guess for us there are several layers that you as artists and companies are having to deal with, not just within the Council but also outside it with the Department of Communications & Information Technology and Playing Australia for example.

WHERE WE ARE: MEETING THE DEMAND

RL
My reading of it is that we’re at a kind of watershed because we (and by we I mean not just the Australia Council but the Australian arts community) have put a lot of effort into increasing the profile of Australian contemporary arts overseas. And we’ve been quite successful in many respects. The next challenge for us is how to meet the demand. And I’m speaking internationally here. We’re beyond square one but we’ve still got a long way to go in terms of ensuring that Australian artists and companies have the depth of information and knowledge that they need in order to be able to take advantage of those opportunities. A lot of it is about networking and about personal relationships you develop with particular festival or venue directors overseas. That’s a critical aspect of it. So while we’ve been successful to a degree in supporting international touring through things like the Performing Arts Market and follow up touring, we’re now in a process of looking seriously at that and not just how effective that’s been but what is the next step.

There are a number of things that the Council is looking at. For example Audience and Market Development is working with the Music Board and now the Theatre Board on introducing quick response international touring funds that I hope will be much more responsive mechanisms. We’ll continue with the Performing Arts Market and the follow up touring program. We’re beginning to develop new ways of providing information to Australian artists as well as trying to expose new work and new artists overseas.

The point that everyone’s been making is about how do you develop the new work. It’s critically important that it is about being selective, about saying no. As much as it might be attractive to jump at the opportunity when it’s offered to you, to go to Mongolia or wherever, it may not be the most effective way of developing a touring circuit for your particular work. There are a number of challenges for the Australia Council in the international arena. I think the things that we need to improve are about ensuring that there’s better quality information about what opportunities exist, providing information and advice on international touring and planning of longer term strategies.

The other thing we haven’t really talked about much, and something we really have to act on, is about a new generation of independent producers. And also, what we do with overseas showcases. Somebody mentioned Heads Up and the New York project as examples. They’re vastly different really. In the past the Australia Council has worked with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade–we’re still working with them. But we’re now influenced less by that particular agenda and more by another one which is about exposing work and finding opportunities for work to be toured internationally. Heads Up was a fantastic project but essentially it was part of a Centenary of Federation celebration. So it does get into the flag waving thing and there’s nothing wrong with that as long as at the end of the day it’s about the artists and exposing Australian artists to international markets.

THE FUTURE

RL
But we also need to be thinking through, as we move incrementally forward, those overseas showcases. And we need to be thinking about emerging markets and what we all should do with established markets whether that be Europe or North America. That’s a process that we’ll be working through in the next 6-12 months, just thinking about how we identify other showcases and how we use them. Also thinking through the development of more appropriate funding mechanismss. And thinking also from an international point of view about the co-commissioning and co-production of work. For example, in the next Performing Arts Market in Adelaide we’ll allow some scope for, if you like, pitch sessions, taking the film production model and looking at ways in which there can be opportunities for a new work to be pitched both for national as well as international presenters and producers.

They’re just some of the things that we’re trying to do. This is a great forum for me to get a kind of reality check.

CONFLICTING AGENDAS

Gregory Nash
I’m curious to know what the political agendas are in a way, Ron, because to use the British Council as an example it’s separate from the Arts Council of England, which is the body which uses government money to fund work and separately from the Foreign Commonwealth Office which is the DFAT equivalent. So we were able to promote or encourage or expose the work of artists who weren’t necessarily funded or approved of by the mainstream government. I just wondered how much of a tension there is in this process.

RL
Well, that happens. We end up in that situation ourselves where in the Performing Arts Market, for example, there may well be work that is not being supported. So you’re in a situation of also trying to find ways of exposing work that has been funded in the past but is not currently being supported and what you do about that.

GN
We inevitably found that the European presenters were interested in the contemporary dance practitioners who weren’t being funded, who weren’t on the major national touring circuits, can’t get a gig in the UK but are working all the time in France and Germany.

THE PERFORMING ARTS MARKET

Andrew Morrish
I’m curious as to how many people apply to be in the Performing Arts Market and how many get in?

RL
I think there were about 100 applications in all. We’ve reduced the number of Spotlight programs because that was the feedback we had from people who attended the last Market that there were too many and it made it difficult for people to get to briefing sessions or to do business. I think we’ve got nearly 45 altogether and that includes 25 spotlights ie 25 minutes excerpts as well as some full length work in the Fringe and some in the Adelaide Festival which we’ll umbrella and promote to some extent. Because we are also very keen to continue to develop the Market, we’re looking at continuing the involvement of New Zealand–so Creative New Zealand will bring in 3 pieces as they did last time. We’ve also invited a couple of Asian companies which I think is critically important to see the Market.–obviously, the focus of it is Australia but to think of it regionally as well.

ONLINE MARKETING

Michael Cohen
Can I raise an issue which I think faces small companies. When you do manage to get a project grant and you get the project up and obviously you get $11 worth out of the $10 that you’re given, but how does a small company that’s not represented manages to sell the work on as well as having some room to develop the project further once it’s had that initial season. One thing that Theatre Kantanka’s been able to do through Audience & Market Development has been a co-operative marketing venture with other companies which I think was only a one-off. Are there any other strategies planned like that one? For emerging companies, I think it’s vital.

RL
I think we’ll review all of that. There’s a lot of value in a co-operative program, in encouraging those sorts of alliances. I guess we were simply caught up in an internal funding issue about how you take the dollars and spread them as far as you possibly can without being completely meaningless.

FW
Michael, could you tell us a bit more about the project?

MC
I believe it was a one-off grant program which we found out from the back pages of some website. Gravity Feed, Erth and Theatre Kantanka applied for a co-operative arts marketing grant. We pitched an electronic marketing co-operative venture which we’re in the process of carrying out since June this year that will see things like joint website creation and electronic marketing avenues. It’s a drop in the ocean for something that needs a sustained approach.

RL
What we were trying to do there was to encourage alliances between organisations and I think we’ll reintroduce that at some point. One of the things that’s happening at the moment, as you’ll all be aware, is the enquiry into the Small to Medium Arts Sector. I hope things like that will be taken up there. That’s a pretty hot issue particularly for individuals and small groups.

RESEARCHING INTERNATIONAL MARKETS

JM
You mentioned research into international markets. How do you do that and where do you get your advice?

RL
That’s something we’re just beginning to really grapple with. In a lot of cases we’ve relied on individuals like yourself, Marguerite and Wendy, other producers like Barry Plews in Adelaide and Arts Projects Australia [Adelaide]. We’ve used information that’s come to us from the Performing Arts Markets. We’re relying more and more on setting up relationships with overseas agencies. There’s a new federation of international arts councils but we're also developing closer relationships with organisations in France and the UK. We’ve set up some initiatives in Japan, we put in what we called a Market Development Officer who’s now the Cultural Attache to the Australian Embassy. We have a project working in Berlin. If we could find the resources to continue to do work in some of those in critical places, we would see that as part of the information gathering we need to do as much as it’s about the relationships–essentially, having reciprocal relationships with other agencies where we swap information. I’m talking here not commercial in-confidence information, I’m talking about who’s doing what festival, what are they interested in.

MP
So in a way, this is replacing what used to be called the Cultural Attache at the Embassy?

RL
To some extent. That’s one element of it. The overseas agencies, the diplomatic posts, the overseas arts councils, working with DFAT, working with Austrade. So for example, when we come to the Performing Arts Market this time, the Australia Council will have a booth but we won’t just be about promoting our own programs. It’ll be shared with DFAT and Austrade. Essentially what we’re trying to do is provide practical advice and information to delegates both international and Australian and to particularly assist less experienced Australian delegates to navigate the market and do business there. So there are two ways we’re approaching it. The first, to use a much overused term is to “skill up” the arts community, to provide information and knowledge that increases the level of ability within the arts community and at the same time, we continue to expose Australian work internationally and try and institute appropriate funding mechanisms.

PLAYING AUSTRALIA: A MATTER OF TASTE
[AT THIS POINT SEVERAL SPEAKERS REINTRODUCED THE ISSUE OF PROBLEMS OF TOURING WITHIN AUSTRALIA.]

JM
The problem's not with Playing Australia. The problem is that no real effort has been made to educate the presenters, the people who are actually buying the product. Playing Australia was designed, if we’re going to dwell on Playing Australia, as a presenter-driven mechanism. That’s what it is and, in my opinion, it operates very efficiently along those lines. The problem is the taste of the presenters and the lack of effort that any of us has put in to try to expand their tastes. It’s not a question of money. The Australia Council or someone else might well wish to run some forums and that would be a question of money. That may not be a bad idea–or someone ought to get the presenters to see more interesting and more adventurous material and give them an opportunity to consider how that may relate in their context to their communities. But let’s not mistake the mechanism for the question of choice. And whether it be stand up comics or rock bands or contemporary performance, if they don’t get to know about the new then they’re going to buying the old, whether they’re the director of the most eminent festival on earth or running the Bulamakanka Performing Arts Centre.

Sue Broadway
I’ve engaged with the touring circuits in Australia in different ways over the last several years and one of the things I’ve noticed is that the engagement with whoever the local person is with getting the local community to come to the shows is an absolutely critical thing. In my regional touring I’ve been trying to do workshops and school shows as an audience development process to get people into the theatre show. And where that’s worked is when somebody in the venue got interested in the idea and put a whole lot of energy into persuading the local community that there was something worth going to see. That sort of aspect of audience development through some sort of seeding process with the community is essential.

Clare Grant
We think about taking work to the venues but is there any mechanism to get venue operators to come to see work.

MP
The Performing Arts Market is one way and that’s with select product. But just to give you an example from the last Market: at the beginning of my tenure with them, Australian Dance Theatre had not toured South Australia for a long time so there was no audience in regional SA for contemporary dance or for ADT although we did comprehensive surveys which showed that the brand name was still highly recognised, that 80% of people surveyed said yes, if there was an ADT show they’d come. So I put together a 3 part strategy. The first part was to bring all of the venue managers from the regions to Adelaide for the Arts Market. And we looked after them for 2 days. Country Arts SA helped pay for this. Money is an issue because regional venues are very under-resourced. They came to see Birdbrain as a work in progress, fell in love with it. We weren’t in fact talking about Birdbrain but about Garry Stewart’s previous work, Plastic Space. And the second part of the strategy was to take a road show to each of the venues where we did Garry's introduction, how you compose for contemporary dance, how the dancers train. Our rehearsal director spoke, how you work with a dramaturg in the context. We had the schools in during the day and subscribers in during the evening with a drink at the end. And then we took the show out. They sold more tickets than they’ve ever sold before on a contemporary dance tour. That was all about building trust with those presenters first and foremost. The company will repeat that strategy next year with Birdbrain. In NSW on the Touring Committee, we’ve all been quite keen to find ways to get regional presenters in–and it’s time and it’s money.

If you’re talking about the major venues Australia-wide like Orange and Newcastle and Geelong etc, they do have programming money and if there’s keen interest, they will travel to Melbourne or Sydney but with the smaller circuit, there’s one person running those venues. They’ve got no money and no time really. So we need some sort of co-ordinated effort to find a way to engage with those people. It’s personal engagement and it takes time and it’s continual. For the Sydney Opera House season of Birdbrain I got all of the regional presenters in NSW to come and see the show there or in Canberra. From that if the company wants to pick it up, there’s potentially a big tour. It’s requires personal engagement and it takes time. How many years did we talk about getting show reels to all the cultural attaches and trying to get Canberra to pay for it and update them twice a year?

JM
That’s something we haven’t talked much about. Hardly any of this happens without very substantial lead time, a colossal investment in forward planning. I don’t think I’ve done anything for years that hasn’t had a lead time of between 18 months to 2 years.

MP
I always say 5 years.

JM
The festival we’ve just done in Cervantino we started talking about with the Mexican authorities in 1991.

RS
And often, just in terms of networking, when festival presenters come and see your work they often won’t pick you up for a couple of years.

JM
Can’t pick you up.

MP
And who pays for 5 years of investment?

Terese Casu
In the very early days of Stalker touring, there was investment in deficit really. It was all about risk management.

RS
Oh, if only that’d changed. I think it’s got worse.

RL
On that subject of regional audiences, that’s a very good point, there is something that we can begin to do. It won’t solve the problem, but, possibly, through an existing project we have running nationally, we may be able to begin to do some of what you’re talking about. It’s certainly something I’ll take back from this forum.

MP
Everything works in cycles and I think somehow the cycles have gone astray. You know, regional, national, international–it should all be a holistic fabric. Certainly I think for us as producers it’s become a natural extension that you create a work, you open it in your home town, you try and tour it regionally, invite people in, tour it again, get a showcase, tour it nationally, invite people in, tour it overseas. That’s your 5 years. And yet, somehow all the agencies aren’t….we’re not on the same cycle. We’re not ovulating at the same time.

SOME SOLUTIONS

John Baylis {Manager, Theatre Board, Australia Council]
In that context, can I just make an open invitation for people to give me ideas as I’ve suggested to some of you in the last month. Since the Theatre Board did a deal with Audience & Market Development to facilitate overseas touring, that seems like it will work quite well next year. But it leaves the Theatre Board with about $100,000 which it has traditionally used for national touring. Now that’s nothing and once you take international out of that program, it looks so bare. So I’m looking for new and interesting strategic ways to use that money. I welcome any ideas. Maybe the idea of trying to promote work more to people who run the venues, or whatever…feel free to ring me.

JM
It does seem that the under-resourcing of Australia’s contemporary spaces is a real problem. As the end user of what comes out of this process, the sad thing for me is that I am now increasingly going to other countries to source product for my market in Latin America because there simply isn’t what I need happening here that is export ready. There’s plenty of good stuff happening, but it isn’t ready for touring internationally.

FW
And to be export ready it very often needs to have a national tour.

SW
Certainly more than one one-week season in Sydney which is where funding finishes.

JM
Completely dispassionately, it seems to me that would be a really good starting point.

FW
There’s also your idea of approaching Playing Australia to section off some money

JM
Give it a whirl. It’s worth asking the question. Quarantine $200,000 for that purpose each year.

NS
With a very quick response time from that discrete fund, as well.

FW
That’s a crucial issue. The longer it takes to decide, the more expensive it makes the remounting of the work.

THE TROUBLE WITH MADE TO MOVE

WB
I spent several years arguing about Made to Move and saying that they needed PICA and Powerhouse and Performance Space as a small circuit for the emerging dance companies. And they wouldn’t buy it. Two years I tried.

JM
It was part of the original concept that there be a two tier circuit.

WB
They would refuse to fund many of the smaller dance companies that I put in.

JM
Or some of the individual dance artists.

MP
It was venue driven and the venues were Victorian Arts Centre, Adelaide Festival Centre Trust etc.

RL
So it was about viability and audiences…

JM
Well, even if [those organisations] had done something at the level of their black boxes it would have been a start.

MP
Anyway there is no allocation for contemporary dance any more within Playing Australia. There is some scheme afoot which none of us is party to yet at the moment appointing some kind of facilitator or advocate.

EXIT

FW
I think this might be a good time to wind up. Thank you all for coming. It’s been fantastic to hear from this cross-section of people talking about this important issue. There are a couple of fabulous ideas which we need to follow up whether it’s as Australia Council, as Performance Space or as a lobby of individual artists and small companies. Please stay for a drink and let’s keep on talking.

5 November 2002
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