These cuts seem particularly disturbing to little theatre as news has emerged of additional projects funded by Catalyst, the government’s new funding program for the arts. Catalyst claims to fund innovative projects as opposed to organisational funding, its recipients selected by the Minister for the Arts. “It is the equivalent of taking parts from one car in order to build a second car: neither car will be going anywhere. In short, this absurd situation is the result of nothing but poor policy,” says one source.
Among the Sydney companies no longer funded are Force Majeure, Legs on the Wall, PACT Centre for Emerging Artists, Synergy (Theatre in Prisons) and Taikoz. Force Majeure, a leading Australian dance company, committed to new devised works reflecting contemporary Australian life and delivering good returns on investment, is deeply shocked. The chair of its board of directors, Jo Dyer, said it is devastating that Majeure’s hard-won success should be put at risk by the incoherent government policy that “neither understands nor cares about” the small/medium theatre sector.
Katrina Douglas, CEO of the 52-year-old PACT was similarly devastated. She said that about 40 per cent of their annual income came from funding and without long-term support from the Council, PACT was in danger of closing. The 31-year-old Legs on the Wall, a daringly unique physical theatre company, said that the impact is brutal and that they now faced an uncertain future in a sector demoralised by these decisions. Legs remained positive and committed to overcoming this “giant hurdle”.
“A Public Response by Theatre Directors” makes the point that the now successful mainstream directors did their “apprenticeships” in the small/medium sector which is “now radically restricted and reduced”. Live Performance Australia’s Evelyn Richardson said that her association was particularly concerned “about losing our creative and technical talent who may be forced to go offshore for work or career development opportunities”.
By crippling the sector in which experimentation and innovation can occur and actors and creative receive their training in a secure organisation, the government has damaged Australian theatre for generations to come.