Sydney Fringe Festival ($130,000), Hayes Theatre ($90,000) and the Omega Ensemble ($100,000), which tours chamber music to NSW and Victoria, are among organisations to have received annual funding for the first time.
Hayes’ general manager, Will Harvey, said he had been worried the theatre might have to go into deficit to fund its resource-intensive creative development program for 2020 before news of its funding success came through.
Two new Australian musicals are in the works, seeded and scored from scratch: The Sovereign Wife, written and directed by Griffin Theatre’s Declan Greene, and Dubbo Championship Wrestling.
For the first time in Fringe’s ten year history the festival could adequately resource its team and subsidise performance space for emerging artists, festival director Kerri Glasscock said.
“Servicing the needs of those artists, providing them with affordable space and activating pop-up venues to accommodate the program is vital. Over 80 per cent of our 2500 artists identify as emerging or early career and Fringe provides an important pathway for local artists to develop their careers and tell new Sydney stories,” she said.
In August the government also appointed 82 arts leaders to 10 powerful boards across theatre, opera, music, museums, visual arts and dance, to replace five-member, peer-reviewed panels that previously judged the merits of funding applications.
Of $7.2 million announced yesterday, $2.7 million went to regional NSW and $1.4 million to western Sydney.
Parramatta-based WestWords received $210,000, same as in two previous years, to deliver writing and literacy programs in western Sydney.
Pinchgut Opera received $175,000 to stage its season of Baroque operatic masterpieces and Four Winds was awarded $200,000 to produce two festivals and a music education program on the far south coast.
Of the 65 arts groups whose annual activities have been supported, one-third were funded for the first time. Funding for these arts bodies totalled $4.8 million – up 20 per cent on 2018/19, the minister said.
In the project category 30 individual artists had been funded representing $600,000 of $2.1 million allocated.
Ms Glasscock, who sat on the festival board in judgement of applications, said all conflicts of interest on the artform boards had been dealt with transparently. No board member saw or assessed any application that they had a direct or perceived conflict of interest within the initial assessment phase, she said.
“Once we convened for discussions board members who had a conflict with any application that was being considered left the room when that application and any applications sitting alongside theirs were discussed.”
Linda Morris is an arts and books writer at The Sydney Morning Herald