Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Tasmanian art talent must be nurtured

Matt Le Nevez and Elizabeth Debicki in The Kettering Incident.

Anne Mather, Art talent must be nurtured, The Mercury, 7 January 2018

Three new entertainment venues are part of a raft of initiatives put forward by Tasmania’s thriving arts and culture sector to accommodate growing demand for the island’s creative energy.

Tasmania’s creative scene has been pivotal to the island’s rise to prominence, but there are many concerned the state has ridden the wave of good fortune without support and investment in the breadth of creative talent behind the surge.

Looking ahead to 2022, many in the sector are calling for improved infrastructure and boosted investment.

MUSIC

WHILE cranes stretch skywards for tourist accommodation in Hobart, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra says there is also a need for new infrastructure that hosts the arts.

The TSO has a vision for three new venues: a new space for opera and ballet, a 2000-seat venue for large commercial shows and an amphitheatre for outdoor performances.

TSO managing director Nicholas Heyward said suitable venues were one of the ongoing challenges for the performing arts organisation.

A priority for the TSO is the purpose-built space for opera and ballet, possibly in a new convention centre or hotel.

“With the proliferation of new hotels, conference and convention spaces in Hobart it would be wonderful to see a purpose-built venue in which to perform opera and ballet in Hobart, with suitable performance spaces, including orchestra pit and the correct acoustics,” Mr Heyward said.

He said there was also a need for a large 2000-seat space for contemporary performances, as the TSO was increasingly in demand to perform with contemporary artists, such as Kate Miller-Heidke and Megan Washington in 2017.

“A functional venue of this size would be a tremendous asset for Tasmania and play a major role in attracting more of this calibre of contemporary artists — who all relish the opportunity to play in Tasmania with the TSO,” Mr Heyward said.

More outdoor concerts are also on the TSO’s agenda, beyond the two annual Symphony Under the Stars in Hobart and Launceston.

Music Tasmania chief executive Laura Harper said the contemporary music scene was flourishing in Tasmania, and the creative economy was strengthened by homegrown talent such as ASTA, Monique Brumby, The Innocents, The Wolfe Brothers and Luca Brasi.

Despite the success, Ms Harper said there were key challenges inhibiting growth.

She took specific aim at poker machines, because their introduction in hotels and clubs changed the place of live music across Tasmania.

“Currently, none of the revenue from Tasmania’s poker machines goes to benefit the live music industry — a sector recognised as being adversely impacted by gaming machines,” Ms Harper said.

She suggested some of the profits from pokies be funnelled into the live music industry, via a change to the Gaming Control Act.

Ms Harper said Tasmania also lacked industry services and support, such as managers, promoters, record labels and publicists who can help develop, market and distribute music.

“This lack of industry services and support often leads to our best talent leaving Tasmania to develop a viable career, taking the direct economic benefits of their success elsewhere.”

VISUAL ARTS

MONA has ensured that some arts offerings have become global attention grabbers for Tasmania, but there is frustration that much of the island’s treasure remains undiscovered.

Art educator Jan Peacock said Tasmania had enormous strengths across visual arts, but not everyone knew it — or was even willing to step inside a gallery.

“We need to do things so people aren’t so scared of art,” she said.

The Salamanca Arts Centre, Hobart’s major arts hub, said it was time for the state to invest properly — and broadly — in the arts and culture sector. The centre’s chief executive Joe Bugden said investment in the state’s assets would attract new audiences to everything from the state’s small art centres through to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

While credit for Tasmania’s surge in international attention can rest in part with Mona, Mr Bugden said future state governments can’t neglect the state’s history as an artistic hub and the diverse range of individual artists and groups behind it.

“Those who live in Tasmania and work in the arts and culture sectors know well that Tasmania has been a profoundly creative island for decades, and the list of artists, writers and performers of international repute that Tasmania has produced over those decades is impressive,” Mr Bugden said. Mr Bugden would like to see support for the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, to “realise the vision and make the TMAG our flagship institution, and one like no other”.

He said investment was also needed for the small-medium arts centres, and the creative talents that give them life.

Mona owner David Walsh hopes the success of his endeavour does not “give governments an excuse to shirk their responsibility to the arts”.

The Salamanca Arts Centre, Hobart’s major arts hub, said it was time for the state to invest properly — and broadly — in the arts and culture sector. The centre’s chief executive Joe Bugden said investment in the state’s assets would attract new audiences to everything from the state’s small art centres through to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

While credit for Tasmania’s surge in international attention can rest in part with Mona, Mr Bugden said future state governments can’t neglect the state’s history as an artistic hub and the diverse range of individual artists and groups behind it.

“Those who live in Tasmania and work in the arts and culture sectors know well that Tasmania has been a profoundly creative island for decades, and the list of artists, writers and performers of international repute that Tasmania has produced over those decades is impressive,” Mr Bugden said. Mr Bugden would like to see support for the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, to “realise the vision and make the TMAG our flagship institution, and one like no other”.

He said investment was also needed for the small-medium arts centres, and the creative talents that give them life.

Mona owner David Walsh hopes the success of his endeavour does not “give governments an excuse to shirk their responsibility to the arts”.

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Council of Australasian Museum Directors, c/o Ms Daryl Karp, Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House PO Box 3934 Manuka, Australian Capital Territory 2603 Australia, © CAMD 2018
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