Arts and Culture

Our priorities are:

  1. Growing our Arts Industry
  2. Arts in Schools
  3. Regional Arts and Theatres
  4. Cross Sector Community Arts
  5. Live Music


1. Growing our Arts Industry

South Australian arts and recreation services industries are performing above the national average in terms of productivity.

However, a successful arts and culture sector in South Australia relies not only on infrastructure, festivals and arts centres, but on artists themselves and the small and medium sized organisations that develop, commission, present and nurture them.

To grow our creative and cultural economy, facilitate local creative enterprises, create new jobs and employment opportunities, and bring social and cultural benefits to our state, SA-BEST believes we need a much stronger focus on funding, individual career development and arts innovation. This will have a deep impact on the development of new South Australian artistic work and, importantly, keeping artists in our state.

As a first step, SA-BEST supports establishment of a cross-departmental taskforce and development of a long-term arts and cultural strategy for South Australia, based on the ‘Creative State’ initiative in Victoria.

Whilst there has been some restoration of previous funding cuts to Arts SA and investment in infrastructure and presentation platforms, SA-BEST is concerned that funding for the small-to-medium sector, independent artists, community and regional engagement, and innovation in the arts, remains at an all-time low and needs urgent investment.

The sector is in immediate danger of losing numerous well-loved arts organisations, as well as artists and arts leaders to other sectors of the economy and to other states. We must invest in the heart of art-making in South Australia, in artists themselves and keeping them in South Australia, and in the future of contemporary, global artistic practice in South Australia.

SA-BEST commits to working with arts sector practitioners and industry associations to:

  • Increase funding for programs that directly benefit small-to-medium organisations and individual artists, including community arts and cultural development, ATSI arts development, disability and contemporary music.
  • Establish an annual Arts Development and Fellowship Program to invest directly in both established and early-career artists and keep them in South Australia.
  • Establish an Arts Innovation and Experimentation fund for new work and artistic projects, which demonstrate innovation and experimentation and invests in the future of contemporary, global artistic practice in South Australia.


2. Arts in Schools

SA-BEST acknowledges the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in education.

However, we must also recognize creative activities as an equally important part of education – many secondary students (especially in regional secondary schools) do not have access to dedicated arts teachers.

Visual and performing arts should feature more prominently in the primary and secondary school curriculum alongside subjects such as science and maths.

Instead of STEM, SA-BEST prefers a ‘STEAMED’ curricula (an expansion of ‘STEM’ that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics, Entrepreneurship and Design).


3. Regional Arts and Theatres

Access to arts and cultural activities is a significant factor in attracting people to live in regional South Australia. Regional communities rely on access to movies, live performances and dance at their local theatre. Dance schools, amateur theatre groups and schools rely on access to theatres to put on concerts and performances. Local government, government agencies, the corporate sector and NGOs use the venues for conferences and meetings.

Unfortunately, declining state funding has reached a critical point that is impacting on the sustainability of arts in regional South Australia and has already forced the winding back of key regional arts programs and services.

The State’s four regional arts centres (Middleback Theatre in Whyalla, Northern Festival Centre in Port Pirie, Chaffey Theatre in Renmark, Sir Robert Helpmann Theatre in Mount Gambier) are ageing and deteriorating to a point where, in some cases, fire and safety compliance standards are unable to be met and key infrastructure and equipment is failing. Without action, these issues will result in temporary or long-term closure of one or more of these facilities.

Whilst we welcome recent State government funding for major redevelopment works for the Adelaide Festival Centre and Her Majesty’s Theatre, SA-BEST is also committed to investing in the regions. The benefits of creating more jobs in the arts sector and more money being injected into our visitor economy must be shared wider than the capital city CBD.

SA-BEST calls for much stronger investment into South Australian Regional Arts, including urgent investment into our ageing regional theatres.


4. Cross Sector Community Arts

Community arts programs that partner with other sectors such as health (especially mental health); youth; Indigenous; environment and CALD can have far reaching outcomes. Cross sector programs and projects are an efficient way to utilise scarce resources. Professional community arts and cultural development practitioners are skilled at working with individuals, community groups and other professional workers to meet the needs of participants and organisations.

Funding for community arts programs and projects has been eroded over the last 10 years.

Many community arts organisations in SA have been de-funded. Cross sector programs have also been affected by funding cuts to other sectors such as primary health care. Many community arts and cultural development practitioners have moved interstate to seek work opportunities.

SA-BEST supports a reinvigoration and long-term investment in cross sector community arts programs as a proven mechanism of providing significant benefits to individual wellbeing and community cohesion and a positive impact on a broad range of issues such as rural isolation, celebrating cultural diversity, addressing social injustice, and building community pride.


5. Live Music

SA-BEST strongly supports South Australia's live music industry and has committed $5 million over the next four years.

The $850,000 allocated annually from pokies revenue for the live music industry does not go anywhere near far enough in supporting live music and emerging local talent.

Venues who choose to focus on pokie revenue with little or no live music will contribute the $1.25m a year in extra funding, effectively cross-supporting venues who already champion our live music industry or who are working hard to grow and showcase more live music and local talent.

Authorised by C. Bonaros 653 Lwr Nth East Rd Paradise 5075