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Australian Dance unsustainable under Howard.

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MEDIA STATEMENT Senator Kate Lundy Shadow Minister for Sport and Recreation, the Arts and Information Technology Senator for the Australian Capital Territory

Wednesday, 21 April 2004

Australian Dance unsustainable under Howard

The Howard Government has neglected the small to medium dance sector in Australia forcing it to fight for its future. This situation has led an extraordinary group of Australian Culture and Dance luminaries to request an injection of funds to 'prevent further haemorrhage by this sector'.

The group of over forty have requested additional recurrent funding of $5m to the Dance Board of the Australia Council in the forthcoming budget. This includes representatives from the Australian Ballet through to small to medium companies and independent artists such as Expressions Dance Company, Leigh Warren and Dancers, Tas Dance, and independent artists such as Kate Champion and Meryl Tankard.

In an open letter to Senator Rod Kemp, high profile Company and Festival Directors have all requested a Nugent style response to the Australia Council’s Resourcing dance: an analysis of the subsidised Australian dance sector. Prominent signatories include David McAllister (Australian Ballet) Garry Stewart (Australian Dance Theatre), Gideon Obarzanek (Chunky Move), Graeme Murphy (Sydney Dance Company), and Robyn Archer AO and Jonathan Mills.

I commend the five Major Performing Dance Companies for their support for this cause. Unlike the Howard Government they clearly understand how excellence is achieved: it requires investment in the grassroots.

In particular, it is the community-based dance organisations that are suffering in a pattern of under-funding that is now typical of the Howard Government. The seriousness of the situation is illustrated by the unity across all aspects of the Dance community - large and small.

The Report identified these disturbing trends in Australian Dance which will undermine this world class, dynamic sector.

It is disgraceful that the Howard Government is happy to bask in the limelight of Australia's national and international successes in dance without providing the support needed to sustain such success.

I call on the Howard Government to respond to the call by these signatories and make the necessary investment in the grass roots development of Dance in Australia in the forthcoming budget.

Contact: Adina Cirson - (02) 6277 3334 or 0418 488 295