The Federal Government is offering $5.5 million (approx. US$3.95 million) in support of leading arts tours, including music, dance, theatre, and circus, as part of the Australia Council’s Playing Australia touring program.
In a media release on Tuesday, Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, said the funding would back 16 creative projects to engage regional and remote audiences across Australia.
“Artists and arts workers in regional and remote places use art and culture to build strong communities, generate jobs and inspire audiences, which is why this $5.5 million will drive economic recovery and arts development,” Minister Fletcher said.
This comes after the Australian entertainment industry was brought to its knees during 2020 and 21, with lockdowns, tour cancellations, venue closures, and strict event requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Australia Council CEO, Adrian Collette AM, said this investment means that more audiences have access to some of Australia’s leading performers.
“We’re particularly pleased the latest round of investment will support a diverse range of performances aimed at engaging young people and those based in regional and remote communities around Australia,” Collette said.
Recipients include two of Australia’s leading theatre companies, Critical Stages Touring and Monkey Baa Theatre for Young People, whose funding will kick in for their regional tour programs from 2022 and 2023, respectively.
This will include a national 48-venue tour of Monkey Baa’s production of “Possum Magic” in 2023.
The Australian Ballet and State Opera of South Australia are also among recipients, with the latter funded for a regional tour of the Northern Territory, South Australia, Queensland, and Western Australia with their production of the Australian opera “Love Burns” by Grahame Koehne.
In addition, Indigenous artists are well represented, with beloved Australian singer and songwriter Archie Roach being funded for his February 2022 tour of regional and remote areas of New South Wales (NSW), the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland.
Playing Australia, administered by the Australia Council, offers three grant rounds each year to support performing arts tours and associated costs.
Meanwhile, singing and dancing are still prohibited at music festivals attended by over 1,000 people in NSW due to the high number of active COVID-19 cases.
The restriction, which was updated on Jan.11 to include outdoor venues, means that event organisers must ensure that no one other than musical performers sing or dance at their events, rendering music festivals practically impossible to run.
The Grapevine Gathering, an annual music and wine festival held on the Roche Estate in the Hunter Valley, had to cancel their festival just a few days out from its scheduled start on Jan.15.
Fortunately, for the annual Illawarra Folk Festival, which would have started on Thursday, Jan. 13, they avoided disaster by cancelling their event months earlier.
The festival usually runs for four days every January, but the 2022 festival was pulled in September 2021 due to too much uncertainty.
Festival Artistic Director, David De Santis, told The Epoch Times that they couldn’t afford to risk all the preparation only to see the event cancelled at the last minute.
“It was too much of a financial risk,” he said.
“We have a limited budget, so it would have been difficult for us to stay afloat if the event had been cancelled.”