Doran seeks more funding

PERTH International Arts Festival director Sean Doran believes that if WA people want big name acts, then the budget will have to increase.

The Perth International Arts Festival has just released the preliminary financial figures for the 2001 festival and it claims to have achieved the financial targets.

PIAF media relations manager Lynn Fisher said PIAF reached the $2.2 million box office target two days ahead of schedule and more than a month ahead of the end of the film season.

PIAF claimed the popular music venue, the Watershed, had paid off in 2001 following big financial losses in its first year.

PIAF said Mr Doran’s initiatives had been consolidated in 2001, and without the high start-off costs the result was a financially successful festival.

Ms Fisher said there were some festival events that didn’t achieve expectations at the box office, including the International Chamber Music Festival, the Mahler Concert and the “popera” Dennis Cleveland.

Mr Doran believes the risky events that don’t attract record sales are essential to the festival and are funded by the big ticket sales from the more popular events.

“The popular successes help pay for the more risky ones,” Mr Doran said.

“The risky ones are what the festival is about and we have an obligation to present works that no commercial producer could risk in order to achieve our aim of positioning the festival as a leading innovator in cultural presentation.”

PIAF also claims the income for the Lotteries Film Season has surpassed the budgeted figure.

The Joondalup Pines Picture Garden at the Edith Cowan University, Joondalup campus had trebled its income after a very poorly attended 2000 season.

The budget overrun of the 2000 festival attracted a lot of attention and gave rise to public debate on the role of the festival in the community.

The University of Western Australia’s institute of advanced studies hosted a forum earlier this month titled, The Future for International Arts Festivals in Australia: can we still afford them?’

The consensus from the four speakers and the discussion seemed to indicate that as a cultural community we couldn’t afford not to have an international festival.

“ In economic terms, we can’t afford a festival, but in terms of education and artistic and social benefits we must afford festivals,” Lex Marinos, executive producer of Yeperenye Dreaming a Federation Festival, said.

Perhaps the most interesting and poignant issue that arose was the idea of a festival with a strong thematic thread that runs through all the productions.

Philip Rolfe, executive producer Sydney Opera House, was critical of the way festivals rolled out “the same old European and North American warhorses as festival centrepieces.”

“Festivals have to change, competition needs to enter the scene, we need to change cultural programming,” Mr Rolfe said.

Whatever the future is for the Perth International Arts Festival, it seems the community expects the arts to be financially accountable even if it’s not the primary focus of a cultural festival.

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