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'Australia is rich with brave, visionary artists'


As South Australia’s small and medium arts companies nervously wait to find out if they will “fall under the axe” of federal funding cuts, Slingsby theatre’s Andy Packer has a heartfelt message for his fellow artists.

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Arts funding cuts

The block has been rolled into the middle of the yard, the sawdust spread round ready to soak up the impending bloodshed. Arts companies across Australia wait quietly as the axe is prepared, not knowing on whose neck the blow shall fall.

In the breath between the lifting of the blunt instrument and the delivery of the blow, I’d like to say something simple.

Thank you.

As I look around and contemplate my colleagues I am just incredibly grateful to have been welcomed into a group of people who make such wonderful art. Australia is rich with brave, visionary artists who get up each morning and think about how to make other people’s lives better by creating moments of magic.

Slingsby began its life in 2007 with the simple ambition to make beautiful theatre. We have been constantly surprised and overjoyed by the generosity of other theatre makers, theatre lovers and theatre presenters in Adelaide, around Australia and internationally. Together, we make the world a better place.

To all the theatre companies who, like Slingsby, are sweating out the last few days until the Australia Council funding announcements: it’s an uncomfortable feeling, isn’t it? Dread in the pit of your stomach that you’ll fall under the axe. Or if you’re successful, relief will be mixed with guilt and despair for colleagues and friends who are not.

In these days of limbo, however, I hope you can please take a moment to look back at what you have achieved; what we have made together.

We should all be incredibly proud of the culturally rich nation we have forged. With limited resources, big ideas, big hearts and tireless work we have brought wonderful moments of theatre into the world.

I reserve my own deepest gratitude for the artists and theatre companies who have held young audiences at top of mind. Too often you are under-estimated, under-appreciated and under-resourced, while internationally you are increasingly celebrated. I thank you for your humility, passion, talent and toil. Thank you for welcoming Slingsby into your fold.

In a little over a week things will look quite different. Our current Federal Government sees the “creative industries” as the goose that failed to lay the golden egg. How could we? That famed goose is the stuff of fantasy. That’s like asking cream to make a cow. It is back-to-front thinking.

What the future will bring is unclear to me. Will Slingsby survive the blow that is to come? If I was a betting man… I wouldn’t.

No matter what befalls us, the memory of the wonderful art I have witnessed will live on within me. I will, somehow, continue to find ways to collaborate with generous, inspiring artists to make golden moments of sunshine to enrich people’s everyday existence. That is what art can do.

So before the pain of the downward thwack ushers in numbness, grief and cultural muffling… to all of you, my brilliant, wonderful artistic family: thank you.

-Andy Packer, artistic director, Slingsby

This article was published on Slingsby’s website on May 6 and is republished here with Packer’s permission.

The Australia Council is expected to inform small and medium-sized arts companies about the outcome of their four-year funding applications later this week, although the information is to be embargoed until May 16.



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