As government funding turns and twists TNN asks ‘What is the future of arts in our nation’?
This comes with a whole set of other questions which are not new to our sector but are increasingly being asked in the NSW theatre sector as we wrestle with a sense of control over our industry and its future?
Questions that have been raised include:
What is the strategic intention of government for our sector – not short term but long term?
Do we remain a funding reliant model and if so what does this mean about how social welfare and related sectors are viewed by the community at large who vote for our government?
How do we get beyond partisan politics – how, if it comes to that does our sector get beyond politics and beyond a funding model to something that comes without judgement and allows for freedom and creativity within the means at our disposal?
What does this mean for the ‘sectors’ within the sector and how they have been created in our history? We don’t have the tax breaks of the U.S. and we don’t have the population and history of Europe.
Until these questions are answered we will continue to be at the whim of politics and community opinion that don’t necessarily, and with good reason, understand what the arts does in our community, in our nation, for our nation, in our world.
Where are the answers in our sector? We will need to pull ourselves up out of the sludge, look back into our history, recreate ways that individuals and collective elements of our sector, community, government value and sustain artistic process, art and the people that create it (not just artists but all who have a role in the arts), work hard at it. There are excellent examples of this happening in pockets which are very inspiring but not, ultimately, at a level where true cultural shift can occur.
We are Australian, working in Australian arts. What does this mean? The majority of us and the arts sector are newcomers in an old landscape now revolving in an ever-changing world that we will need to relate to with extreme bravery. We may need to throw out everything we know and value and who is prepared to do that in an age with ‘paying the rent’ is so critical. But, to continue the housing market metaphor, our sector need to become homeowners, owners of our own domain. Only then will we truly be free to invite in our houseguests, our audiences, our government, and have an open house that truly shows how and what we do.
One of TNN’s focuses for 2017 is to ‘become part of the research into new models of sustainability’. TNN does this through constant research, testing and analysing of own sector but also other sectors like small business or the not-for-profit areas who share similar characteristics or needs.
This is not a new concept but it is one that still requires significant consideration and joint action. In order to assist TNN’s work, and others, in this area TNN is calling for submissions on ways individuals and organisations are trying sustain their practice outside of, or with far less reliance on, standard funding models.
Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org with any information you wish to share and we’ll be sure to follow up.