We at Regional Arts Victoria have not been immune to the changes that have been taking place in the arts sector in recent years. A lack of indexation of operational funds has and will continue to impact us and can only result in a reduction of the organisation’s output to the community. We have not seen any comparable deflation in costs in recent years, nor do we anticipate this occurring in the foreseeable future.
However, this was something that the Board of Regional Arts Victoria had anticipated. It is a truism that some people will see a crisis, while other people will see opportunity. We have taken the time over the last few months to take a critical look at our operations, and with the values of our organisation in mind we have looked to reinforce our strengths, and identify the opportunities that the changing landscape presents – and those opportunities do exist.
This review is by no means complete, nor is the final outcome completely fixed, but we’d like to outline the future for our touring programs from 2018 and beyond. We provide touring and associated support services with an efficiency and expertise unrivalled by any other organisation across three areas:
- Touring works to professionally-managed venues, largely arising from presenter demand generated through Showcase Victoria
- Touring educational programs around the state particularly in regional areas
- Touring professional works into the halls around the state that are run by community groups and organisations
All of this is mindful, and critical to the success, of our core mission to inspire arts across the state.
Despite the steady erosion of our resources over time, Regional Arts Victoria does not, cannot and will not encourage a culture of self-exploitation in the arts, neither in word nor in action. In order to maintain the programs at the heart of the organisation, we are left with no choice but to reduce our capacity to coordinate tours to professional presenters in 2018 and beyond. Specifically, we will not be taking on the coordination of any further tours to professional presenters in 2018. Rather than pick up ten projects for 2019 from Showcase Victoria 2017, it is unlikely we would take more than five.
So how do we see the touring model working from 2018? To answer that question we would like to share our desired outcomes from Showcase Victoria 2017.
At Showcase Victoria 2017 we will be looking for shows that are suitable for our Arts & Education program in 2018 and beyond, and not just those that can tour into schools specifically. We would welcome the presence of school principals and teachers and encourage them to foster relationships that break down the barriers between schools and performing arts centres. It is saying nothing new to recall that repeated studies have shown that by exposing children to performing arts in a purpose built performing arts centre is a key driver to attracting new audiences as the child encourages their parents to attend, and that child is then more likely to engage with the performing arts as an adult.
By 2018 we will have more closely aligned the operations of our Arts & Education and Performing Arts Touring teams, to allow for the potential of a show that can tour through schools and performing arts centres, depending on the facilities available in the local community and well as leveraging the combined power of our contacts within schools and the marketing networks of our professional and community presenters.
At Showcase Victoria we also hope to welcome community presenters, festival programmers and our friends and colleagues in the community and cultural development areas. We are firm in our belief that the arts can be a mechanism to foster deep and resilient relationships within and across diverse communities. We would welcome expressions of interest for projects that can respond to what a community identifies as its needs. We will be looking for works to include in our Connecting Places program for 2018 and beyond.
From 2018, Connecting Places will, as it does now, look to tour professional shows to halls run by community organisations, and to that it will add a series of on call or incursion style works, building on the expertise we have developed in our Education & Families team to a wider audience. Further, we will be looking for residential style works where artists are prepared to go in and work with communities to produce collaborative works. We will look to work with community and cultural development teams in local councils to program works outside the performing arts centres.
We expect that from Showcase Victoria 2017 there will arise tours to professional presenters, there will obviously be those that Regional Arts Victoria will coordinate for 2019, but there are other organisations in the sector who will create tours for 2018, and we wish them every success. For those projects in 2018 to which we have already committed, they will be developed with the professionalism and dedication we expect of ourselves, and we know is expected of us.
Regional Arts Victoria looks forward to a future where we continue to collaborate with community organisations, local governments, schools and venues and with these changes we feel we will continue to inspire arts across the state with the level of excellence that all our stakeholders have come to expect.