No Plain Jane

Theatre reviews and musings (mostly) from Adelaide

Tag: Festival of Unpopular Culture

Rip It Up And Start Again: A Hypothetical New Beginning for Arts and Cultural Funding

Today I spoke on a panel on arts funding with the Festival of Unpopular Culture.

 You know how everyone complains about how the Australia Council devotes most of its energies to major flagships and opera? And everyone else gets, well, chicken feed? And when you try to debate that you get this whole series of arguments about how opera’s a great art form and needs funding and whatever? Gee, wouldn’t it be nice to have a conversation about what things could look like, rather than a defensive argument about what they’re like now?

Well, let’s pose a hypothetical. Let’s assume every Arts funding body in the nation got shut down, all the money got put into a big pot, we were rebuilding the entire funding system from scratch and every body had to reapply from one big cultural slush fund. What would we do?

The recent Australian Theatre Forum began with Postcards from the Future from a collection of artists and arts workers, and I decided to start my response to the hypothetical like that.  It wasn’t until I finished writing did I realise just how much of an ode to those three days this was. This is an idealistic version of a community and a nation I would like to be working in in ten years.

Dear Jane,

I am writing this as I prepare for my panel at the 2021 Festival of Unpopular Culture: The (Former) Festival State: The demise of a festival culture and the rise of independent arts practice in Adelaide.  Stan and Ianto, still running around in their cricket whites insisting that Ultimate Sports Game is a real sport, are amused by the irony of having such a discussion in a festival.  They’re not defunct, but they don’t weld the power they once did.  That goes for festivals as well.

After the 2011 FUCfunding panel and a rapid submission from all members of the arts community in attendance to the National Cultural Policy, all the arts funding bodies in the country sat up and listened. Australia went through a radical change where, just as prophesised, all funding structures – and the default allocations which exist there – were removed, and as a collective industry we worked towards a democratic system.

Today, our stages have 45% female writers (some people just can’t let go of Chekhov and Shakespeare, it seems), and 50% female directors.  Mirroring similar changes seen in visual arts, music, dance, film, and in the ever proliferating inter- and cross-arts sectors, our theatres are less white, less English speaking, less male, less old, more contemporary, more Australian, more queer, more community engaged, in more regional and remote areas, and with more people with a disability than ever before: on stage, behind the scenes, and in the audience. With the removal of funding structures, we now so rarely refer to “Indigenous art”, “disability art”, “community art”, and “children’s art.”  Now, we just call it “art”.  Some people and groups still choose to use these labels – the National Indigenous Theatre Company’s pretty big on it – and that’s okay to.

Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Alice and Peter Grow Up

Every now and then I have a moment where I realise that maybe – just maybe – I’m actually a Grown Up.  They’re few and far between; not because I see myself as a child, but because to be an adult seems all at once huge and scary and unobtainable and certainly doesn’t seem like something I will be at any time soon.  More often, I suppose, I feel like I am playing at being a Grown Up.  I’ve managed to convince people that I can have proper jobs and proper responsibilities, and it’s all a farce which is great fun.

At the entrance of Format, we are passed a questionnaire: how grown up are you? Downstairs in the slightly awkward basement, we are introduced to Subject One and Subject Two, working their way through a modulated course, giving their audience the skills they need to grow up.   Alice (Aston Malcom) has a Grown Up score of 9 out of 50.  Peter (Sebastian Freeman) has a Grown Up score of 12. The apathetic Alice and the cocky Peter must make their way through each of the sections, learning, among other things, how to have a conversation, how to date, how to be married, and how to act at work.  It’s trial by procedure rather than trial by error.

This devised theatre piece by a young team under the direction of Nescha Jelk hilariously and charmingly winds its way through the bed of uncertainty that is these years of trying (or ignoring the fate) of being an adult.  From the jokes that hit too close to the bone, to the sublimely ridiculous, Malcom and Freeman embrace the essence of struggling with your burgeoning adulthood, even if it is in a course and not in the real world. Read the rest of this entry »

“I wore bow ties before Doctor Who did”, and other lessons from The Youth

Young people have no attention span.

Young people don’t read.

They’re the cause of the ills of this world; the cause of lowering audience numbers.  If only they would do as we told them, act as if they had respect, knew what was good for them, then really, we’d all be better off.

As the token outspoken-arts-involved-youth-writers-and-commentators of Adelaide, Will McRostie and I felt a sense of responsibility to stand up to the plate at the Festival of Unpopular Culture and say “listen to us, we are here, our ‘youth’ opinions are just as valid as yours.”

And yet, when it really came down to it, we didn’t care.  We say our piece, often, in writing and in appropriate and inappropriate proclamations in public forums.  Our voices are out there, but there is another ‘youth’ who doesn’t often get to say their piece.  So we rounded up eleven-year-old Harper, thirteen-year-old Harry, and fourteen-year-old Gina for a discussion on what it really means to be young in Adelaide.

Read the rest of this entry »

Unpopular Self Promotion

The Festival of Unpopular Culture – the latest fringe festival venture to have popped up in Adelaide, because god knows we don’t have enough festivals (Adelaide count currently stands at 1,348,987-odd festivals per quarter) – has launched its first program to run alongside the Festival of Ideas.

I will be talking on the event entitled Rip It Up and Start Again: A Hypothetical New Beginning for Arts and Cultural Funding

You know how everyone complains about how the Australia Council devotes most of its energies to major flagships and opera? And everyone else gets, well, chicken feed? And when you try to debate that you get this whole series of arguments about how opera’s a great art form and needs funding and whatever? Gee, wouldn’t it be nice to have a conversation about what things could look like, rather than a defensive argument about what they’re like now?

Well, let’s pose a hypothetical. Let’s assume every Arts funding body in the nation got shut down, all the money got put into a big pot, we were rebuilding the entire funding system from scratch and every body had to reapply from one big cultural slush fund. What would we do?

On the panel, I will be joining Esther Anatolitis (CEO Melbourne Fringe), Sandy Verschoor (Director, Festival of Ideas), Gavin Artz (CEO ANAT) and Chloe Langford (other young ring-in to balance out the fancy people who actually know stuff / visual artist).   We’ll be speaking on 15th October at 1pm at AC Arts.   I’ve been compiling links of issues I think are related to the panel on twitter under the official hashtag for that event: #FUCfunding, please join in the conversation either there or on the day.  It should be exciting.  I should get in trouble.

Along with the other youth-complainer of Adelaide, Will McRostie, I have also been involved in the on-going curation of a panel about the “real” youth of Adelaide in Child Exploitation.

Conversations about Adelaide’s youth always focus on Gen Y, those aged 18 – 30. On their lack of engagement with Adelaide, on Adelaide’s lack of engagement with them. But what about the real youth of this city?

How do tweens and teens interact with this city? How do they see the place they live in; where does it sit in relation to the world? Are there things here for them to do? Do they spend time in the city, in their suburbs, or at Marion? How long do they plan to stick around?

What are they worried about? What are they looking forward to?

This panel tries to answer the age-old question: is this city only worth living in as long as Justin Bieber comes to visit, or is it actually a great place to grow up?

Bringing together four kids from around Adelaide aged eleven to thirteen, the panel will discuss who they are , where they live, and what it really means to be youth in this city.

You can come listen to the kids talk on 8th October 2pm, also at AC Arts.

***

Despite my resignation letter, I am still powering ahead in an excel-sheeted-madness of theatrical statistics.  The State Theatre Company of South Australia launched their 2012 program today, it seems they paid some attention to the woman-in-theatre debate and their performance in that regard in 2011, with 4/7 2012 main-stage writers female, and 1.5 of the four pieces in the education staging crediting female playwrights. They have 54.7% female playwrights next year, which is nigh on unheard of, so good on them.

I’m thinking, however, the statistics will be more of a focus on georgraphics and year of premiere: these were actually some of the statistics I found the most interesting last year, so this year I’ll try and give them some more weight.  The current trend (spoiler alert!) is a lack of Shakespeare: has Bill had his day?

On this regard: if there are any young designers/theatre geeks who would maybe be interested in talking to me about creating an info graphic of some stats work, I’d love if you could get in contact.

***

For those lovely commenters from the “and what have you ever made?” camp: I’ve signed on to production manage my first play, which will be a new work by Emily Steel who wrote the award-winning Rocket Town for last years Fringe.  Like Rocket Town, it will be playing at RiAus during the 2012 Adelaide Fringe.  I’m sure I’ll be bombarding you with more information as we get stuck in.

***

And for a final unpopular promotion of another Jane: my dear friend Jane Gronow, who has in many ways made me the writer I am today with her amazing support through the incredibly sadly now defunct Lowdown Magazine and her friendship over the last year, has taken over Directions Magazine: the national guide to tertiary education in Australia.  For all you budding artists/arts workers who want to study at a tertiary level, you should check it out.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 152 other followers