From the SA Chapter President

Time for cultural intervention

The State Government’s recent Growth State initiative recognising Design and Architecture as part of the Creative Industries Sector provides the opportunity to advocate for the economic impact and contribution of the Arts and Creative Industries in this State. The roundtable discussions surrounding this initiative reinforce what we already know – that it is seriously undervalued. The incessant social debate of its worthiness continues to desensitise its impact.

Cultural and creative awareness defines who we are and what we aspire to be. The built environment can lend a hand to the development of a clear cultural identity.  The beginning of the Festival of Arts and Fringe in 1960 presented a cultural intervention for the Arts and passionately projected a progressive community attitude. The current environment allows us to be caught in the perception that it is purely economic growth that is worth striving for.

Recently the call for a concert hall has resurfaced with some welcome positive debate. A mooted contemporary art gallery of an undecided varying program has been going for some six years. We have seen how a sporting stadium can inject life back into a city, so much so we’ve called for a second. Maybe it’s time to share the love a little and look towards and acknowledge the highly acclaimed contributions that our cultural and arts groups bring to the City by prioritising a new arts focussed facility.

Cultural buildings have and will continue to contribute to the celebration and identity of our Cities. We come together over the next few weeks celebrating the Fringe, WOMADelaide and the Festival of Arts, in an Adelaide way, free of pretense, so suited to the makeup and fabric of our City. Much of this transformational uptake has been as a result of the cultural and social intervention of the 1960’s and 1970’s as a legacy of the opening of Australia’s first multi-purpose Arts Centre, the Festival Centre in 1973 that helped define a home and identity for the performing Arts in South Australia.

Recent commentary suggests that the demand being put on the availability and programming of events in suitable spaces cannot be met, forcing performances to inferior spaces or venues. An indication that demand is higher than current facilities can support.

The work of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, State Opera and State Theatre among others in bringing their respective performing arts to the people in differing venues, blurring the boundaries of performance venues, removing the perceived elitist preconceptions of performing arts by appealing to new audiences needs to be rewarded. These organisations are deserving of a space that they can call their own.

They don’t have to be iconic venues in a traditional sense, rather as the Festival and Fringe Programs have shown, inclusive and responsive.

As we continue to promote ourselves as the Festival City and North Terrace as the Cultural Boulevard, the next few weeks culminating in Mad March will highlight the demand for additional cultural venues. To ensure that these proposed venues are not idle outside this current peak time we  need to get  better at promoting and programming events around the other seasons of the year rather than going into hibernation.

Just as the Festival of Arts outgrew its venues in the 1960’s resulting in the deserved Adelaide Festival Centre in 1973, sixty years after the foundation of the Festival and the Fringe, the Arts community have served us well in identity, celebration and economic contribution. The stage is set for a serious attempt to reset, repurpose and reinvigorate the needs of the Arts community in Adelaide, it is time for a cultural intervention.

Tony Giannone
SA Chapter President