An unprecedented groundswell of pressure has erupted from the direction Fringe artists, summoning politicians to recognise the wisdom and economic benefits of investing in the Fringe.
Stirred up by one of Australia’s most exciting new choreographic talents, one Lewis Major, it calls on politicians of all persuasions, in or out of power, to support Fringe director Heather Croall and get moving to increase Fringe funding.
The letter was penned before the headline Fringe media event where Croall wept with frustration at the state of arts funding. It had been doing the rounds accumulating signatures.
Major says he had no experience in political activism. But he didn’t have to look far for support.
“I just reached out to all the artists who have been supported by fringe grants in the last year,” he declares.
He was stirred to action “witnessing firsthand across so many years just how hard the fringe works to support artists and especially South Australian artists.
"They are a huge reason why so many local artists who would normally look to greener pastures - either into state or overseas - end up settling in Adelaide.
"To then see how much benefit the fringe brings to other sectors in our state through such a relatively small amount of funding and watch how much of that funding actually makes it into the hands of artists and art venues.” It seemed something needed to be done.
Sure, politicians can promise anything when an election is looming.
But, Adelaide artists and practitioners want to hold them accountable.
So far the petition has been signed by over 100 artists and arts producers.
Here is the historic petition:
An Open Letter to all MPs
We, the undersigned, write this letter to wholeheartedly voice our support for the Adelaide Fringe under the courageous leadership of Heather Croall and the Fringe team and we call on all state MPs to implement the recommendation in the PwC report and increase Adelaide Fringe’s annual funding from the State Government.
The PwC report is clear in its findings in relation to the cost-benefit analysis of funding to our biggest and most successful festival: the gross expenditure given back to our state by the Adelaide Fringe is over 40 times the funding that it receives from the state government.
As artists, we are not in the habit of making solely economic arguments for increased support to the arts, although when speaking about the Adelaide Fringe the extraordinary return on investment to the state is impossible to ignore. The benefit of supporting Adelaide Fringe, however, is more far-reaching than the mere numbers that are added to the State’s bottom line at the end of March.
Fringe continues to support all levels of creative practice throughout the year and ensures that our sector continues to thrive outside of the actual Festival season itself. Thanks to the tireless work from the Fringe staff, programs such as the Fringe grants, professional development pathways, and mentorships are delivered at an enormous scale.
As our families, colleagues, communities, industry, and nation come to terms with the uncertainty, isolation, and social and economic disruption of the world in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Adelaide Fringe stands as a beacon of all that is good about the arts sector in our state. The Adelaide Fringe is much more than a month-long festival that brings in tourism dollars and a sense of excitement to our city – it is an organisation through which artists are connected to each other, and are supported and inspired by each other… and together, find hope for the future.
We urge all SA political parties to commit, as an election promise, to increasing the annual funding to Adelaide Fringe as set out in the PwC report. The return on investment that the Fringe delivers to SA is enormous but it is not just about economics; the Fringe offers great opportunities for creative practitioners, brings immense joy to everyone and uplifts us all.
The Fringe is culturally an important part of life in South Australia.
Please look after it. Don’t take it for granted.