You are here: Home / Media / Sydney’s abandonment of artists may lead to artists’ abandonment of Sydney

Sydney’s abandonment of artists may lead to artists’ abandonment of Sydney

Sydney is not a city that shies away from the art world. It hosts the Biennale and the Sydney Festival, two events that bring us some of the most accomplished and significant artists in the world. Both the City of Sydney and the State Government invest noteworthy funding through their policy and funding body, Arts NSW. Sydney Festival Ltd alone received $4.3 million from the Government, with one million going to the opening night when international super diva Grace Jones performed a free concert in the Domain reports Nicholas McCallum in the South Sydney Herald of February 2009.

However, for emerging young and independent artists who call Sydney home throughout the year, it seems there is an ever-decreasing portion of the pie. And with mini-budget belt tightening, already diminutive servings of funding could be reduced to mere slithers. If the cost cutting continues, the city’s creative eyes may turn south to Australia’s art mecca: Melbourne.

One disillusioned member of Sydney’s art world is Best Artist 2008 nominee Perran Cost, whose works have been exhibited in both Sydney and Melbourne. Perran believes that the widening of the funding gap between established artists and young and up-coming in Sydney is crippling the city’s artistic potential.

“A majority of the funding in Sydney seems to be going to already highly funded established arts bodies and organisations,” Perran says, “with very little going into fostering emerging and experimental art, without which the future of Sydney as an arts hub looks bleak”.

Perran refers to the Rees Government’s cutting of surplus funds from the Premier’s own portfolio of Arts, Sport and Recreation, and gives particular reference to the inadequate funding of the CarriageWorks, which stands at the vanguard of Sydney’s art world.

A current exhibition Carriage-Art-Works: Contemporary Art from the City Fringe showcases works that have been chosen from a selection of local galleries across Sydney’s inner west. All works at the exhibition are for sale.

Whilst the CarriageWorks remains the property of Arts NSW, it receives little to no funding from the government body. An employee of the state-of-the-art facility said that its struggle for sponsorship depends predominantly on the involvement of large events like So You Think You Can Dance. But the insider stated that the centre’s ultimate wish is to offer more support and present local artists to the Sydney community.

“[CarriageWorks] would love to present young, emerging artists,” the insider said, “but we don’t have any sponsorship,” highlighting the shifting of the responsibility of arts funding from state to local governments. The move has made it all the more difficult to support local, fledgling talent.

Perran states that the drop in support at a government level is detrimental to the community, not only affecting the arts industry, but tourism also. When coupled with rising costs of living in Sydney, he suggests that the possibility of a mass exodus of the city’s arts community south of the border is not unfathomable. “Without the necessary funding going into the creation of new art and artists Sydney will not have the next generation of artists it needs to solidify itself as a cultural city.”

And though Sydney will likely remain the nation’s financial capital, if current trends continue and the creative intellects that inhabit this town are not encouraged and supported, it will be a city that is culturally inept.

Photo: Ali Blogg - Caption: CarriageWorks needing support

Source: South Sydney Herald February 2009