Arts Grants

Mr FINCH - It would be very remiss of me with the President sitting in the wings, Minister, not to highlight again the Tasmanian Ensemble, which had a very successful trip to Japan. In light of that example - it was very hard to get off the ground and promote, and to support those people getting to the expo at Aichi - is some consideration being given to promoting Tasmania and further supporting tourism by sending some of our cultural exports to highlight Tasmania? That might interest people in coming to Tasmania, as does Ten Days on the Island. We are all fascinated with the origins of the artists who come here for that, whether they are from the Seychelles, the New Hebrides or Reunion Island. We have to establish in people's minds that Tasmania is a cultural place that they must visit sometime during their life
CHAIR - The Minister for the Arts will probably have a different response from that of the Minister for Economic Development!

Laughter .
Ms GIDDINGS - No, it all fits in. I commonly argue that the arts should be back within Economic Development because they fit so well together and they are critical to economic development. That is why we have the Icons Program and why we support the TSO. That gives an international presence to a top-class arts organisation and helps promote Tasmania around the world. That is what the icons funding is specifically for. In relation to individual artists, we have programs in place under which they can apply for funding. The arts bridge program helps assist artists to travel. That program is for artists working in any art form. They can apply for assistance with air fares. There is a cap of $2 500 on international air fares, and quotes from three airlines must accompany applications. Arts Tasmania funding covers air fares but not freight, accommodation or other expenses. It takes up to eight weeks to work through an application, so a quick decision is not possible under that program. Anyone can apply for Arts Tasmania grants and loans through our major programs. That is assistance to organisations and individuals. It can cover international travel.

Mr FINCH - How many have applied and how many have been supported?

Ms UPTIN - I do not have that figure with me. We allocate about $20 000 to $25 000 each year to that out-of-season program. That is above and beyond the money people can apply for during the grant program, which has a once-a-year closing date so that we can make a quick response to a need to travel. We expend that money annually. It gives you some idea. The grants range from about $500, or maybe less if someone is going to a mainland stop, to $2 500. We have about eight international CEF. I can get that list for you, but it varies each year. It depends who applies and how successful one application might be.

Mr FINCH - I would like to put that question on notice so we can get some details about how much people are getting and which groups are travelling. We just feel there is an opportunity there. There are a lot of performers in the north of the State that we concern ourselves with and would like to promote internationally.

CHAIR - Could we clarify that and get the details for the past two years?

Ms UPTIN - Yes, certainly.

Mr FINCH - There is another group that I would highlight, Singalon, which is from the north of the State. In their first year they received support from the program to the tune of $10 000, but they were told not to come back for any more.

Ms UPTIN - It is a bit tricky sometimes with professional artists. Events and others deal with perhaps broader cultural activities in this State. We tend to focus on professional arts activities and professional artists and sometimes groups. It is difficult for us. We appreciate that it is lovely for them to go, but often they might have to find funds by fundraising and other methods.

Mr FINCH - Is good information available? A group like Singalon might be looking for support. When they come to the department, is a really good precis of support available?

Ms UPTIN - It is available online as well as in our office. They do not have to physically come in.

Mr FINCH - Is it laid out so people know exactly what is available to them?

Ms UPTIN - Yes, and they can apply online using an online application form. They do not have to write in for an application form. They can just go to our web site and get it.
[4.45 p.m.]
Mr FINCH - I am not sure about the process because it seems that full information was not available when we were trying to get the group to Japan. I was not involved in the administration of that, but I do not think their information was as detailed as it could have been.

Ms UPTIN - I am not sure of that particular case. I am happy to listen to the details.

Ms GIDDINGS - It is important to plan well ahead because with the arts bridge program, for instance, the closing dates for applications are 1 March, 1 June, 1 September and 1 December. It is no good knocking on our door just weeks away and saying, 'We've been invited to go to a country, can you support us?' We need advance warning to go through our processes to support that sort of travel.

Ms UPTIN - As you can see, we allocate a certain amount of money to that out-of-season program and as a result it is very competitive. If people can get their act together and come in through the main grant program, which needs a bit more forward planning, they are likely to be more successful because fewer people are competing for the funds
Mr FINCH - I think there was a fair bit of forward planning with this visit. It was seven months in the planning and the contact they had –

Ms UPTIN - They may have missed our grant program, or something like that, but I cannot tell you off the top of my head.

Mr FINCH - Singalon is a group of 30 young singers who intend, by hook or by crook, to travel internationally each year.

Ms GIDDINGS - They will blow our budget each year.

Mr FINCH - No, no. I am highlighting to you Alana Andrews, a young woman of 22, living in the north of the State. She recognises the importance for her 30 young people to travel internationally for their personal development, as well as to create the opportunity to encourage people to reciprocate and come to Tasmania. In the first year of the choir being formed she took them to Hong Kong. They raised all the money themselves except for the very generous $10 000 from the Government. Her troupe is off to New Zealand in the second year of their existence. That is a fantastic program. Those kids come from all walks of life. They are not all from well-to-do families; they are from disadvantaged families as well. They are selected on their singing ability alone and their potential to develop. This young lady highlights to us that she recognises this opportunity, and she is a real goer
Ms UPTIN - It may be problematic for us to fund young children to go, because that is not what the Arts portfolio does. Certainly we can look at the professional artists involved in that and help them.

Mr FINCH - I am suggesting we should expand our thinking a little in respect of a program such as this. This young lady is going, by hook or by crook. If the Government is on board through that program, even in a much smaller way - say, $2 000, $3 000 or $5 000 - it will bring great benefits to us.

Ms GIDDINGS - It comes back to the limited taxpayer dollar and how best we can spend it. I guess the icons program is doing what you are suggesting by supporting the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. It is a professional orchestra, which will be going to Japan this year and possibly China, and maybe Europe down the track as well. I agree with all the reasons you have given but we as a government have put our dollars behind the TSO to do that for Tasmania around the world. I know of the group you are speaking of and I know of the excellent work Ms Andrews is doing. Thankfully for me I do not get to fund individual groups. The process is at arm's length so that ministers and members of parliament cannot play favorites with their chosen groups. It is really important that the process stay that way and the grants and loans are at arm's length from politicians.

Mr FINCH - I am suggesting, Minister, some consideration of expanding the budget to look outside the square.

Ms GIDDINGS - We are always fighting for expanding budgets.

Mr FINCH - Look outside the icons program and see some new opportunities.

Ms GIDDINGS - The important point to note is that a program is in place that helps artists to travel around the world. It is important that people understand that broad concept. If they have a good reason to be traveling and they apply for a grant, they have a good chance of getting support from the Government to assist with that travel.

CHAIR - Rule 6 of our proceedings says that any other member of the Council may ask two questions on any output. We are joined by the member for Paterson, who wishes to ask some questions.

Mr WING - Thank you very much, Madam Chair. What is the total amount in the budget for grants to help professional artists go overseas; that is for air fares up to $2 500?

Ms UPTIN - We do not actually allocate funding to that program. We allow people to apply to us across the board for anything they need. Those applications are considered, one against another. It is not a specific allocation to travel overseas, with the exception of that out-of-season program I was mentioning. It is open slather. If everybody's application to travel overseas was strong enough and absolutely brilliant, we would fund all of those. It is not restricted in any way at all.

Mr WING - That is good. Would a company such as TasDance qualify? They have six dancers and two or three accompanying staff. They have the prospect of going to Japan next year. Would they qualify?

Ms UPTIN - We already give TasDance the largest grant in the State.

Mr WING - That is very much appreciated.

Ms UPTIN - They can apply to us for special activities, but they would have had to do that already because the organisations grant program has closed for 2006
Mr WING - It is a pity that the Australia Council at the Federal level was not as generous as our Government with TasDance.

Ms UPTIN - We would concur.

Tuesday 31 May 2005 - Estimates Committee B (Giddings)