Curtain calls and events across NSW since Friday 17 June have seen over 3500 audience members write directly to their Federal MPs asking for stronger, more sustainable support and recognition for the Australian arts industry. 10,000 more have made this request via the istandwiththearts.com website.

Wesley Enoch, Sydney Festival Director, stands with the arts because ‘I can’t imagine an Australia without art….and I have one of the best imaginations in the country’. This campaign is asking theatre audiences to do just that and, by doing so, to reimagine the future of the Australian arts industry. Elecorate offices from Wentworth to Warringah, Riverina to Mitchell are being inundated with the #istandwiththearts cards that have asked arts audiences to consider what Australia loses if it government doesn’t better support the arts sector.

At Griffin Theatre, actor and playwright Kate Mulvany asked her audience to consider what it is they value about the arts and to convey that through the #istandwiththearts campaign to their local MP. ‘We don’t want to see 1300 jobs lost, we don’t want to see companies and livelihoods lost. When value is stripped from the arts, it is taken away from you too. We don’t want to see that happen, we want to keep our sector thriving’ says Mulvany. Mulvany wrote the script that has been delivered to over 80,000 theatre-goers in the last 10 days.

Performers and venue staff from each company have distribute #IStandWithTheArts cards addressed to local MPs for audiences to personalize and send. The 3,500 cards already sent by the theatre companies to local MPs are growing in number. Post-election, the campaign will also send data summaries and letters requesting to each incoming member to meet with local arts representatives in order to build a better future for the arts and Australia.

The working group of NSW theatre companies behind the campaign includes independent, small to medium and Major Performing Arts (MPA) companies, as well as Theatre Network NSW (TNN), the peakbody for theatre companies in NSW. ‘This campaign has only been able to come about because of goodwill and resource sharing across the theatre sector: a sector which is often dubbed as ‘divided’ and ‘closed’’,says Jane Kreis, Director of Theatre Network NSW. This campaign now, and after the election, works to change the overwhelming hopelessness in the sector and rebuild a confident and thriving arts industry through the support of our audiences, our governments, and each other.”

‘When Prime Minister Turnbull said on ABC’s Q&A last week that “no one else would be as aware of it [the differences between Ministry for the Arts ‘Catalyst’ and the Australia Council for the Arts funding]” he inadvertently confirmed what the arts sector has been coming to terms with,’ added Kreis. ‘That our sector and what we do is misunderstood not only by our government leaders but also by the community in which we work. Arts sector subsidy and incentives compared to other industries such as the motor vehicle, farming, and mining sectors are tiny yet leverage significant resources as well as an incredible diversity of creative outcomes for Australia and its communities. Placing this sector into turmoil and not recognising the outcomes of this is a tragedy that we will all bear”.

UPDATE 20th March 2017: The campaign website (below) is now being archived to the Theatre Network NSW site and the relevant link will be provided as soon as it is ready. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact director@tnn.org.au
What can I do?

Drive your audiences and networks to the e-campaign.

Use hashtag #istandwiththearts in your social media. Use this media release to develop your own or send it out to your networks.

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