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WA arts braced for tough times

WA arts braced for tough times
August 12, 2009

Healthy ticket sales and more private donations seem to be inoculating Western Australian arts companies against the worst ravages of the economic slump as they face an uncertain year ahead for corporate sponsorships.

WA Ballet and the WA Symphony Orchestra (WASO) both lost major sponsors recently, threatening their performance plans over the next year before they sourced funds from other sources.

BHP Billiton Iron Ore pulled out after nearly 40 years as a WA Ballet sponsor to concentrate on improving its public image in the Pilbara, where it is ploughing $500,000 into arts projects in Newman.

The ballet's loss was partially offset when BankWest came on board and a private donor gave $100,000.

An Australian Major Performing Arts Group survey showed Western Australia's stage companies (WASO, WA Ballet, WA Opera and Black Swan State Theatre Company) recorded an average 17% rise in sponsorship and donations last year. However, they are nervous about the year ahead because the arts sector lags 18 months behind the rest of the economy.

Already, the 2010 Perth International Arts Festival could be trimmed in line with organisersâ forecasts of a 20% drop in sponsorship, which makes up 25% of its $14 million budget.

Festival General Manager Julian Donaldson said sponsors appeared to be holding firm but it was prudent to trim the 2010 budget.

WASO, which got $3.3 million, or 20%, of its revenue from corporate sources, lost two sponsors, which could mean less risky concert programs in 2010 to maximise ticket sales, Chief Executive Craig Whitehead said "I don't think the audience will see a perceivable difference", adding "what we are trying very hard to do, as always, is to find a balance between the artistic vision and the financial reality."

Rising costs and tighter bottom lines mean more WA stage companies are sharing risks through joint productions with interstate counterparts, including three shows in Black Swan's 2009 program.

Black Swan recently bolstered its corporate networks by stacking its board with business heavyweights, including Rio Tinto iron ore Chairman Sam Walsh and Alcoa Australia Managing Director Alan Cransberg.

The WA Youth Jazz Orchestra is one of 20 small arts organisations reaping the benefits of a new dollar-for-dollar incentive scheme through the WA Premier's Arts Partnership Fund to encourage smaller businesses to enter the arts world.

As WAYJO General Manager Kristy Jones explains "our program of new Australian works - the edgier, contemporary side of jazz music - can be attractive to smaller companies that are new, fresh and Australian."

Image: WA Youth Jazz Orchestra 

10th July 2009 - PERFORMING ARTS FUNDING SET TO DECLINE?

10th November 2008 - SICO INNOVATION IN DISABLED STAGE ACCESS 

19th August 2008 - TICKETEK AND NINEMSN TO INTEGRATE 


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