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Cate Blanchett tells Australian Performing Arts Market more funding is needed

AUSTRALIA needs to establish a $30 million creative funding program to help performing arts companies achieve their full potential overseas, actor Cate Blanchett has told a conference of international arts producers in Adelaide.

Blanchett, who also is co-artistic director of the Sydney Theatre Company, delivered the keynote address at the ninth Australian Performing Arts Market (APAM), which is being held in conjunction with the Adelaide Festival and Fringe, at the Dunstan Playhouse.

"The riches that an event like APAM brings up ... is surely another reason to investigate the notion of a Creative Australia Fund," Blanchett said.

"With that long-term and relatively small investment by a government, I think it could take the performing arts even further than they are already going."

Blanchett told a press conference that she supported the the Australian Major Performing Arts Group's call to establish a national fund worth $30 million over three years, to help companies develop and present work both nationally and overseas.

"When you look at the success of what APAM has achieved since 1994 to 2008, there's been 70 Australian arts companies and 160 tours which have really generated about $30 million in revenue," she said.

"So it's a very fruitful and successful, financially, sector and I think the support would really benefit us not only economically but spiritually."

"An event like APAM, for me, it really points to the exciting but sometimes frustrating feeling of how much more performing arts could actually achieve.

"And the riches that APAM throws up is surely another reason to investigate the notion of a creative Australia fund, and for that to be seriously reconsidered.

"I think with that long term and relatively small investment by government, I think it could take the performing arts even further than they are already going.

"The Australian Major Performing Arts Group (AMPAG) has been calling for this for some time now but I think in the wake of the obvious success, and the increasing participation from international companies, in an event like today, it might be time and timely to revisit that really potent idea."

Blanchett said the fund would help reduce development costs.

"It's a vision of all artists working in Australia who are producing things of world standard," she said.

"The process of development is lengthy and costly - it's a human medium, the performing arts.

"And if we are going to take Australian work out ... so it's not only ripe and ready for Australian audiences, but it's ripe and ready and relatable to international audiences.

More than 580 delegates, including 160 international producers and promoters from 25 countries, will view work showcased by 56 Australian and New Zealand arts companies at APAM over the next four days.

"It's become one of the key performance art markets in the world," Blanchett said, who recently returned from touring Sydney Theatre Company's production of A Streetcar Named Desire to Washington and New York.

Blanchett said that, while there was global interest in what's new and who will be the next big thing, Australia needed to invest in mid-career artists to enable them to develop the next phase of their work and collaborate with younger artists.

The APAM press conference was also attended by the Minister assisting the Arts, John Hill, and Kathy Keele, chief executive of federal funding body, the Australia Council for the Arts.

"The reason we support it is because of the fantastic results you get for improving artists' careers and artists' fees," Ms Keele said.

"There's a lot of conversations that take place, a lot of deals done. At the end of the 2008 APAM there were 33 per cent of those participating who had developed tours and another 85 per cent who were in conversations for tours and presentations around the world," Ms Keele said.

Among APAM's 2008 success stories was Adelaide-based Australian Dance Theatre's show "G", which toured to Paris and another 24 European locations.

From: The Advertiser
February 22, 2010 1:03PM