Yesterday, our CEO and Director Chris Bendall was on stage at Riverside Theatres with Federal Minister for the Arts Paul Fletcher, Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne, Lord Mayor of Parramatta Bob Dwyer, and Australia Council for the Arts CEO Adrian Collette AM, to announce a $5M boost to the Playing Australia Fund.
Touring is an incredibly complex business, made even more complex whilst we are also dealing with the challenges of Covid-19, and even at the best of times requires funding and coordination between multiple tiers of government – local, state and federal. The more flexibility and the more support that can be offered on a federal level through funds such as Playing Australia, the greater the potential for diverse works from diverse artists to tour.
Just as importantly the more opportunity for artists to work. National touring creates an important opportunity to extend employment and career development opportunities for theatre artists – actors, designers, directors, musicians, stage crew, stage managers, technicians… It also extends the reach of outstanding works of Australian theatre.
From our perspective – Critical Stages Touring is busily touring year round but we can only travel as far as the dollars allow, and extra funding quite simply means a greater amount of work will be on stages around Australia, traveling to audiences far and wide and creating exciting and engaging experiences for audiences everywhere.
I should of course acknowledge that we are in the extremely fortunate position in.a global context to be talking about performing arts touring at all right now, during a global pandemic. The past year has not been usual at all, and we are only just back to seeing our first tours now. In a usual year though, according to performing arts connection Australia stats, there are actually 12 million attendances regionally each year across 135 regional performing arts centres and 64,000 performances. So there is considerable activity to support around Australia,
The announcement today is a significant contribution to support regional access to the arts for performing arts companies such as ours. With increased flexibility in funding arrangements also, such as we have seen supported by the Office of the Arts & Australia Council over the past year, this funding quite simply helps to make touring possible and will make sure that audiences in regional and remote parts of Australia have the potential to have the same access to live performance as urban audiences.
I would also add that its really important that funds are committed to realise the recommendations of the recent national Touring Scan, so I’m very pleased to see a strong response to this recently released report.
Chris Bendall, CEO & Director
Critical Stages Touring