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Adelaide Festival faces $1 million cut

Adelaide Festival

The Adelaide Festival of Arts says the State Government has foreshadowed a $1 million cut to its budget for the coming financial year.

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The Festival’s confirmation of the threatened cut came after Arts South Australia boss Peter Louca slammed an opinion piece in InDaily which made this very claim.

Veteran arts administrator Rainer Jozeps wrote in an opinion piece last week that the Government was stripping $1 million from the Festival’s 2016 budget.

Louca responded on Friday, claiming that Joseps had his facts wrong and “the Adelaide Festival did not have its funding allocation reduced this year”.

“The funding allocation for 2015-16 was $8.36 million – on par (allowing for indexation) with the $8.2 million it received in 2014-15,” he said.

However, the point seems semantic, with the Festival confirming today that the State Government has foreshadowed a $1 million cut to its funds for the 2016-17 financial year, on top of previous cuts.

Festival chief executive Karen Bryant told InDaily that Arts South Australia had informed the Festival board of the forthcoming cut.

“We have been notified of a $1 million reduction in funding for the 2016-17 year,” Bryant said.

“We are still trying to work through what that will mean for the Festival next year.

“There’s no doubt that a reduction in funding of that size will have to have an impact.”

Bryant said the Festival had been told by the Government it was required to contribute “savings” of $50,000 in the 2015-16 financial year.

“We were also given advance notice that in 2016-17 that we would be expected to make additional savings of $949k. We are in positive negotiations with the State Government regarding alternate funding sources.”

While the board won’t consider its options in detail until after the imminent 2016 Festival is over, Bryant said its priority was to maintain the quality of the program and the Festival’s international reputation for excellence.

“We are talking about a few options at the moment to ensure we have a program of that standard,” she said.

She said the Festival’s administration was “lean” so any cuts to any parts of the operation would have a significant impact.

Louca today released a statement, saying that “the 2016 Adelaide Festival’s budget was not cut by $1 million – in fact the last state budget allocated an additional $4 million per annum to the Arts to maintain arts and cultural activities and events”.

However, he confirmed the Government had foreshadowed a cut to the Festival’s forthcoming budget.

“The incoming festival co-directors have been advised that there may be a future savings task and they should plan the events with this in mind,” he said.

“This is in line with the whole-of-government savings strategy. The government remains committed to supporting our important arts and cultural activities and events including the 10 other major funded festivals in South Australia, such as the Fringe, Film Festival, Cabaret, SALA and the Come Out children’s festival.

“The future allocation of efficiencies has not been settled and the overall Arts funding won’t be finalised until Cabinet approve the next State Budget expected in June.”

This year’s Festival is the fourth and final one for artistic director David Sefton, who will be replaced in 2017 with the duo of Rachael Healy and Neil Armfield.

Sefton has been a strong critic of the poor state of Adelaide’s arts infrastructure.

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