Like most of Canberra’s arts community, I was not anticipating the news that the Fringe Festival would not be funded into 2010, and that the National Folk Festival would be given greater funding to include a fringe event in their program. Jorian Gardner was apparently quite surprised about this, but I can’t say it wasn’t predictable.
Jon Stanhope’s time as Minister for the Arts has seen the loss of many opportunities for emerging artists in the ACT, as well as an ever-increasing flow of ACT Government funding to interstate and international artists. And John Hargreaves, who has responsibility for a number of arts events under the spurious ministerial arrangements of the Labor government, has shown himself to have a very limited capacity for abstract thought. So given that the Minister for the Arts shows very little interest in emerging artists, and the Minister for Multicultural Affairs has no capacity to comprehend the kind of events staged at a Fringe Festival, I doubt there was ever any hope for continued funding of the festival.
Nonetheless, Stanhope has apologised to Gardner for excluding him from the process, and The Canberra Cook is encouraging us to lobby for the continued funding of the Fringe. A protest is also planned for this Thursday (27 August) at 1pm in front of the Legislative Assembly. Personally, I’m completely over this notion of lobbying this government for anything. ACT Labor seem to think they’re exempt from democracy, and would probably like to disband the ACT people and elect another.
Fringe events at the National Folk Festival are unlikely to include a range of art forms, and if the Fringe Festival is unable to find willing supporters to keep it going, it will be a sad loss for artists in the ACT. Fortunately, artists in the ACT are used to dealing with loss, and will no doubt carry on in spite of the ACT Government’s disdain for their work.
For an interesting discussion of this news, see this post on RiotACT.