I return to Melbourne pretty much each year to work on different projects, and in the last 4 or 5 years in particular it’s clear that the scene is changing radically. Dance and performance work has become increasingly venue or producer led. As arts organisations are increasingly squeezed for cash they’ve started to mirror European and British models in which a few (usually young) artists become the chosen ones and are represented, pushed, and talked up.
It seems that the days of practicing and working on choreographies and then working with a venue or space to present it are long gone.
David Pledger has written a timely piece at theconversation.com about the independent artist sector in Australia. He writes:
The collateral damage in the arts sector will be significant if the major arts organisations don’t push back. The professional field knows that the independent and small-to-medium sector is a separate ecology fulfilling a separate mission to those of the major organisations.
The solution is not for the mainstream to bring independent artists into their fold as has been suggested but to support and nurture their independence outside of it.
This is a seemingly impossible proposition. Any artist who feels on the outside (don’t we all?) has to find ways to resist being scooped up by organisations so that they are able to nurture their own independence, ideas, resources and imaginations.
In other words, what are the potential costs for an independent artist of a formal association with an arts organisation or organisations? And more importantly, what would arts organisations be prepared to give up in order to support the independence of artists?
David’s full article is here: