In the Media

Kelly Vincent – Vision Australia Interview on SALA and Federal Arts Funding

On 5th August 2015, Dignity for Disability MLC Kelly Vincent was interviewed on Vision Australia radio station to discuss the South Australian Living Artists Festival and the Federal Government’s proposed changes to Australia’s arts funding. Here is the audio and transcript from the interview.

Pam Green: Time now to welcome to 5RPH Dignity for Disability MLC, Kelly Vincent. Hi Kelly

Kelly Vincent: Hi Pam

Pam Green: Well so obviously it’s SA Living Artists month in South Australia. Kelly I understand you’ve already launched an exhibition in the Hills on the weekend?

Kelly Vincent: Yes I had the great privilege of attending a new exhibition that’s part of SALA, the South Australian Living Artists Festival. I got invited to launch this exhibition because I was actually acquainted with one of the artists, Tori Bedford when I handed out an award that was given to her by the Dawn Slade-Faull Trust, which is an organisation that gives prize money to crafts people and artists with disabilities. And so when Tori was given this award she told me that she wanted to use the prize money to help her launch a new exhibition in SALA. So when this exhibition came to provision with Tori and two other artists, Liz and Adam; I was invited to open it. So it’s been a great privilege to see it come to a provision and very impressive I have to say. One of the artist’s Adam is only eight years old and is already exhibiting in exhibitions which is incredibly impressive. So the exhibition is happening for the rest of the month of August at the Johnathan Art Centre which is in Dawesley, just about 5km out from Nairne in the Adelaide Hills. It’s a bit of a drive but if you’ve got some spare time it’s a lovely scenic drive and a great exhibition. I encourage anyone to get along and see it.

Pam Green: And you’ve been along to another exhibition this afternoon too, a Community Bridging Services collaboration I think with the Eastwood Community Centre. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Kelly Vincent: Sure, this exhibition is titled ‘Such and Much’ and it features many artists who participate in an art programme run by CBS on a weekly basis as I understand it. These artists have exhibited some of their art work this year. CBS have a yearly exhibition, every year in SALA so it’s great to see more artists given the opportunity every year to put their work in there and the work is up for sale, and I have to say quite a few of the pieces have already sold, one of them even sold prior to the exhibition opening. So it’s very popular and very good work. It’s also encouraging to see emerging artists who might not have had a platform previously to be given the opportunity to exhibit in an exhibition like SALA. I think one of the best things about a festival like SALA is that you have every type of visual artist exhibiting, from people where it might be their first exhibition to people who are living artists and doing this professionally. So it really unites people and brings people together and helps people who may not otherwise go to a highbrow art show to come along and see something, and discover something new. So that exhibition is on in Eastwood at the Eastwood Community Centre until the 4th of September. So as I said it’s been very popular and a number of the works have already sold, so again people should get along while they can.

Pam Green: And I understand you introduced a motion to the Parliament last week re #freethearts, why is the arts industry so important in South Australia?

Kelly Vincent: Well the arts industry is particularly important to South Australia because we do market ourselves as the festival state, with the Fringe, the Cabaret Festival, and SALA and so we have a lot of different festivals and we try to really market ourselves as an art loving state. And so when the Minister for the Arts, Minister George Brandis came out with this new idea of a Programme for Excellence in the Arts which would see funding redistributed to what has really been interpreted as a captain’s tick system, where the Minister has, according to the artists that have been talking to me, believe far too much say over what will be funded under this new scheme. The concern that we have for that and that I have for that most certainly, and the reason I have put this motion to parliament is that I’m afraid it will weed out a lot of the small to medium sized enterprises and small to medium organisations that are providing important services for arts goers and particularly young people in the community. I have been contacted by a number of people involved in organisations like True North Youth Theatre Ensemble in the northern suburbs, giving young people who are often from disadvantaged financial backgrounds but also from disadvantaged cultural backgrounds access to the arts as a social activity but also as a potential career. And a social activity where there isn’t much happening like that for young people in the northern suburbs. Other organisations include No Strings Attached, of which I am a very proud ambassador; as well as Tutti which is another arts and disability organisation, contacted me about the concerns that they hold that this might adversely affect their funding and the programmes they’re able to run in the future. The funding is being lost and re-diverted into this so called Excellence to the Arts Programme is an excess of 104 million dollars over four years, so we’re really talking about the livelihood of some of the organisations that are running services, supporting, and giving career options to the most disenfranchised people in our society; people from different cultural backgrounds, young people, and people with disabilities. And I also have concerns about calling this a “Programme for Excellence in the Arts”, it somehow seems to me to suggest that we haven’t already been running excellent arts services in Australia and in South Australia in particular. And if you look around at our Fringe, our Cabaret and other festivals it is quite clearly not the case. So I think the crux of the issue here is that this decision has been made clearly without the consultation of arts workers and people who work in the arts industry day in and day out and the affect this could have on their lives and their ability to run these important programmes. And whether or not you are an arts lover or an arts goer yourself, I think we can all appreciate that to make a rash decision like this without the involvement of those who will be directly affected by this decision is not good governance.

Pam Green: Mmhmm

Kelly Vincent: So I put this motion to parliament to put some of those concerns on the record and to encourage all MPs to put on the record their views on this scheme. And hopefully to encourage particularly those in the Liberal party with federal colleagues in Federal Government to perhaps use their power to hopefully make some changes so that we can get a fair system happening that truly supports artists, not only as a social activity but as a livelihood and as something that provides career advance as well as social opportunities for some of the most disenfranchised in our community.

Pam Green: Great. Once again, thanks for taking the time to speak to us again Kelly.

Kelly Vincent: That’s a pleasure Pam.