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WA Opera’s Carmen sponsorship smoking row extinguished
The Western Australian Government is to direct its health promotion agency to allow the WA Opera to perform Carmen after a public outcry and claims of arts censorship when the production was canned.
It was revealed last week the opera company had agreed not to perform Carmen because of its references to smoking after it received a lucrative Healthway sponsorship.
The 1875 work by Georges Bizet is one of the world's most popular operas and the heroine, Carmen, works in a Spanish cigarette factory.
However, Western Australian Deputy Premier and Minister for Health Dr Kim Hames said he would direct Healthway to allow the production to be staged.
Dr Hames stated "I'm going to write to the board (of WA Opera) and say to them, if you want to run Carmen then you run it.
"If I have to direct Healthway to allow that to occur then I will.
"My view is I won't need to. I've spoken to Rosanna (Capolingua – Chair of Healthway) and she's very comfortable with that direction."
Capolingua had earlier explained that Carmen had not been included in WA Opera's application for Healthway funding for the 2014/15 season.
Capolingua stated "Healthway has a policy of not supporting artistic performances where smoking is depicted.
"The policy, which was adopted more than 20 years ago, is based on evidence that glamourising smoking increases the likelihood of young people experimenting with smoking and therefore the risk of becoming regular smokers."
She said WA Opera was "well aware of Healthway's sponsorship requirements regarding smoking in arts performances".
However, she said the agency would abide by the Dr Hames's direction, adding "Healthway will respond appropriately to any direction from the Health Minister.”
WA Opera General Manager Carolyn Chard said last week the company made the decision not to program the opera after it secured the two-year $400,000 deal with Healthway, the Western Australian Government body that sponsors arts and community organisations to promote health messages.
Chard told 720 ABC Perth "Carmen is an opera that is actually set in a tobacco factory, so that does present some difficulties if you're promoting non-smoking and healthy work environments.
"I think we were very respectful of the partnership and forward-thinking about recognising it would be in direct conflict with the aims of the Heathway support."
But the decision prompted outrage from Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett and a wide range of other figures.
Premier Barnett said he had been "highly embarrassed" by the cancellation, while Prime Minister Tony Abbott described it as "political correctness gone crazy".
4th August 2014 - ARTS MINISTER PUTS AUSTRALIA’S LEADING OPERA COMPANIES UNDER REVIEW
14th April 2012 - WEST AUSTRALIAN BALLET WALTZES INTO NEW HOME
7th September 2011 - WA VENUES MOVE AWAY FROM ALCOHOL SPONSORSHIP
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