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Australia Council announces latest round of arts grants

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Australia Council announces latest round of arts grants

by Clive Paget on January 10, 2017 (January 10, 2017) filed under Classical Music | Theatre | Visual Art | Dance | Comment Now
The October 2016 awards see a few of the companies who lost their four-year funding making some headway.

The Australia Council for the Arts has announced the results of its October project grant round representing $5.8 million of investment in Australian arts. In total, 184 projects have received funding, including $3 million for 141 individuals and groups, and $2.8 million for 43 small-to-medium organisations.

The biggest winners are Freemantle based DADAA (Disability in the Arts, Disadvantage in the Arts), Melbourne dance company BalletLab, Sydney dance theatre company Force Majeure, Adelaide’s Vitalstatistix women’s theatre company, Brisbane-based composer and music creatives Topology, The Last Great Hunt (a collective of seven Perth-based theatre makers), the Australian Design Centre and a German museum (Documenta und Museum Fridericianum) who each received $100,000.

Other organisations receiving over $50,000 include Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, the Waringarri Arts Aboriginal Corporation, Outback Theatre For Young People, the Sydney-based Peggy Glanville-Hicks Composers Trust, Northern Rivers Performing Arts and Arts House, Melbourne’s powerhouse for contemporary arts.

In an Australia Council press release, Chief Executive Officer Tony Grybowski says that, in particular, this funding round included “the highest number of successful multi-art form applications under the new model, and a continued commitment to a large proportion of the investment going to individual artists”.

The 184 projects represent just 7.5% of the 1,373 applications in what Grybowski describes as “an increasingly competitive funding environment,” adding that “with ‘arts in daily life’ as one of our strategic goals, I’m particularly pleased that 31% of the successful applicants had audience engagement, and access and participation in the arts as the primary outcomes of their projects.”

Among the other successful music ensembles are Brisbane’s Kupka’s Piano ($31,000), The Muses Trio (($10,000), TinAlley String Quartet ($19,000), the Hush Music Foundation ($22,000), Speak Percussion ($3,000) and Pinchgut Opera ($35,000). Individuals receiving grants include experimental pianist Zubin Kanga (a $24,000 development grant), percussionist Claire Edwardes ($19,000), composers Stuart Greenbaum ($10,000) and Paul Grabowsky ($20,000), recordist Genevieve Lacey ($30,000) and the now London-based oud virtuoso Joseph Tawadros ($31,000).

Theatre winners include playwright Jane Harrison (author of Stolen) and Melbourne-based Ranters Theatre, while the dance sector includes choreographers Sue Healy, Amrita Hepi and Shian Law (who impressed recently in Sydney Dance Company’s New Breed) and the Stephanie Lake Company (($43,000).

“It was encouraging to see that 19% of successful applicants were based in regional and remote areas; more than half of grant funding to individuals went to female artists; and multi-art form grant funding has hit a five-round high, all of which continue the trend in fostering diversity, strength and vibrancy of the arts across Australia,” says Grybowski.

Back in May 2016, the Australia Council announced 128 recipients of four-year funding grants with 62 organisations previously funded by the Australia Council left facing uncertain futures, a repercussion of the $60 million over four years cut from the Australia Council’s budgets by the Federal Government in 2015. Sydney-based Force Majeure, who had been “completely de-funded,” according to executive producer Colm O'Callaghan after losing an application for $243,000, were one of the companies offered a lifeline by this round of one-off project funding.

“The reality of the 2016 federal funding cuts is that Force Majeure is now a project company, and we rely on these one-off grants to maintain our ambitious artistic output," O'Callaghan told Limelight. "Without a project grant, Force Majeure’s future was potentially in jeopardy. Most importantly the grant enables our Artistic Director Danielle Micich to make a significant and new large-scale work, which our audience has become accustomed to.”

Other companies that regained some funding after losing out last time include Black Arm Band, Snuff Puppets, Vitalstatistix and BalletLab. Gondwana Choirs received a project grant in the previous round, and so we were not eligible to apply, but the fate of other arts companies such as Taikoz, Synergy percussion, Legs on the Wall, Melbourne’s Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre, Theatre Works, Arena Theatre and KAGE Physical Theatre is less clear, their names being absent from this round's list of successful applicants.