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Industry stakeholders share their thoughts on the arts in 2022 | The Examiner


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The arts industry has had a tumultuous time since the pandemic hit between cancellations, refunds, funding issues, and rescheduling. Now industry professionals are sharing what they think 2022 may look like. Shows, productions, and the performing arts battled to reclaim the stage and own it during 2021. Heading into 2022, many companies had announced their seasons. However, Encore Theatre co-founder Belinda King said going into Christmas she was a lot more confident then than what she was now for the performing arts. “The Omicron wave, I’m sure it will subside, but I think it will affect production in the first third of this year. I think we will see some cancellations or postponements coming through,” she said. READ MORE: People released from isolation doubles as cases fall “No one wants to be caught out the way we were when the pandemic first began. I think theatre producers are going to be … extra cautious.” Theatre-goers may see more movement on the theatre calendar in 2022 to accommodate for COVID-19 illness in actors. Regular attendees may also notice a move to more mainstream and well-known productions as companies rely on shows they know audiences love. But right now, many are taking the wait-and-see approach. “One of the big tests coming up will be Mona Foma and that will either pave the way or show that we have a real problem,” Ms King said. The performing arts hope to get back to doing what they love in 2022 and be well-supported as that happens. “In amongst all those COVID clouds, there’s an ongoing sense of optimism that we will get past this and we will bounce back,” Ms King said. Funding-wise, and with a federal election looming, Ms King said there was a big opportunity for the major parties to do something significant to support the arts. “It’s time to do something more substantial, and something that can improve across the board,” she said. “It’s extraordinary how the arts sector has been ignored during the entire pandemic in this regard.” Sawtooth ARI director Zara Sully said the sector was extremely concerned about COVID in 2022 and how that would affect artists and galleries. “The Mona Foma show is how we start our 2022 season as we like to start off with a bang,” they said “If Mona Foma doesn’t go ahead, we will probably still go ahead with hosting our show, but at a later date.” Despite the pandemic, Sully hoped that in 2022 the visual arts would continue to explore the voices of the unknown and voices that had not been previously heard in the sector. READ MORE: The global fitness craze setting up shop in Launceston’s CBD “That’s really what the visual arts should be looking at, representing people who have been underrepresented historically,” they said. “I think we are going to see a big slowing down of things just with COVID. I think a lot of us have learnt to be a bit slower.” The visual arts would welcome more funding in 2022, which would assist with the ongoing support needed for program planning. “The repercussions of COVID are going to take a long time for the arts to recover from,” Sully said. “I think funding really affects artists and art workers, and it causes burnout.” Adrian Barrett, who runs Eight Oh Eight, said the biggest issue live music was facing in 2022 was customer hesitation due to the pandemic, with ticket sales already grinding to a halt. “There’s also a finite amount of times that staff can get caught up in [COVID]. We have already lost a lot of staff,” he said. “It’s an extremely uncertain and risky time for commercial-based production or productions that are funded by sole operators.” However, the lack of affordable options to host live music in Launceston is also something the industry will face during 2022. READ MORE: Elderly woman dragged from burning care facility “Speaking for Launceston, it’s in a very dangerous position,” Mr Barrett said. “I’d love to say things are rosy and everything is going to come back, but there is no funding … and there are very little sites … and there are no tickets being bought.” The live music industry is also hoping for more funding as election time draws closer. Mr Barrett criticised the way previous funding had been distributed by going to the same recipients time and time again. “What we need out of this election is the government to listen … we need the money pulled into an insurance scheme for the industry,” he said. Arts Minister Elise Archer said the Tasmanian government was the strongest supporter of arts, culture, and creative industries in the state. “We know our cultural and creative industries have been strongly impacted by COVID just as the transmission of the Omicron variant … will continue to impact the arts, and live events in particular,” she said. “The sector in Tasmania has demonstrated great resilience and responsiveness when faced with the evolving challenges of COVID-19.” The state delivered financial support of $9.65 million since March 2020, and in March 2021 the $2 million Live Performance Support Program – designed to give the sector confidence to plan live performances – was launched. That program was extended until April 2022. Following discussions with the performing arts sector, Ms Archer said she was reviewing amendments to the program to ensure it remained responsive to the risks of presenting performances in 2022. “In the 2019/2020 financial year, selected arts industries contributed $124.99 million to Tasmania’s Gross State Product [based on the annual ABS publication],” she said. What do you think? Send us a letter to the editor:

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