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Small to Medium Performing Arts Sector Working Party – Report

October 17, 200517 October 2005

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This report, which follows the Australian Major Performing Arts Inquiry of 1999, was commissioned to examine the factors influencing the artistic and financial position of small to medium sized performing arts organizations in Australia. Based on an analysis of organization finances and consultations with the sector, the report gives even North American readers a lot to consider. The position of Australia’s small and medium performing arts organizations appears to be quite similar to the situation of those in Canada. In particular, the Australian sector is “reliant upon an extraordinarily large number of volunteers and part-time workers operating in administrative and marketing areas, underpinning a stretched infrastructure”.

The report finds that small and medium sized performing arts organizations play “a fundamental role in research and development, experimentation, innovation and risk-taking with a commitment to new Australian work and diversity of artistic form”. Small and medium sized organizations also facilitate regional access to the arts and provide an affordable entry point for new audiences. The report questions the viability of government expectations that organizations become more self-sustaining while continually advancing the performing arts through innovation, experimentation and creative risk-taking. The report also notes that smaller organizations’ emphasis on artistic development “may come at the cost of audience development and performance income”.

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