So it's been awhile readers and I've unfortunately been too ill to blog or adventure much. The last events I attended as the Lonely Archaeologist were all at the Nexus Arts Centre including the Deco Dolls and World Gin Day, Once Upon A Teaser (both curated by the talented Miss Viola Verve) and Club Gotham by the JustAss League in late June (all pictures below are from the various events mentioned).
I intended to do a feature blog on each of these events but illness is a time consuming hobby and I've largely been regulated to questionable viewing habits formed on Netflix while resting & testing goes on and disturbing my therapy animals with my ideas of home entertainment! Part of that of that is the pursuit of spoken word and the pub poetry scene (as both a performer, audience member and writer), it's actually influenced my documentary research project that I'm making as part of my screen and media studies as my archaeology masters elective. This has changed my viewpoint on being artist myself as you'll see below.
Once Upon A Teaser, Nexus Arts, June 2017.
Once Upon A Teaser, Nexus Arts, June 2017.
Gin tasting platter on World Gin Day, Nexus Arts, June 2017.
As much as I enjoyed attending the events as an audience member, my perspective really began to change as I got more and more involved as a novice poet in Adelaide's underground spoken word scene. From my own fledging endeavours since late last year, I appreciate the work that goes into creating a performance let alone curating an entire show. For me, thankfully, it's a reasonably cheap art form to practice and rehearse since I'm a *collector* of notebooks and pens are affordable and my writing group are generous with their time. Plus a huge thanks to the people who organise open mic events like Soul Lounge and Dithyrambia plus Spoken Word SA that have created environments that nurture poets and other wordsmiths as well as featuring local and Australian talent regularly. They are all volunteers with projects, lives and day jobs of their own and you'll find that with many of the amateur acts in SA's cultural scene.
I really realised the cost of time that now goes into then making your performance the best it possibly can be after seeing Charlie Brooks, Alison Bennett and Matcho Cassidy workshop and choreograph their show, URI: To Burn, performed last week at the Jade as part of State Variable, which was free in spite of months of work going into it. So tonight, I was pretty upset to see one of the upcoming lights of the Adelaide burlesque scene explaining on social media that performers were being compensated less than $30.00 per show. That's the average price per ticket of a medium sized Fringe show according to my *research* (shows I went to see last year or tried to but I was really perfecting the art of ill timing literally). We joke in the spoken word scene that there's no money in poetry (apart from the Slams which I'll write about next week), but the other creative performing arts are not cheap pursuits even just as a hobby (I spent a lot of money on music and dance lessons first hand growing up) and if you are paying money to be an audience member in a show that a performer is good enough to be paid for, they've got the right to be compensated fairly like any other employed work.
Often people will ask them for free art or gigs because they'll "get the exposure" and think this is fair payment when they don't realise the hours of practice, years of lessons, time taken away for rehearsals from other things including better paid employment, travel costs to venues, make-up and costumes, equipment such as sound and lights along with someone to operate those sound and lights, refreshments and bar staff if the venue is catered or the cost of up fronting catering with no guarantee they'll make it even let alone profitable and then there's legal & insurance…
Why am I ranting about this when, as Tink, I'm only a poetic novice who hasn't released a book or been a featured poet (yet) and as an archaeology student, I don't perform for a non-academic audience? I write this blog for free and the reason is that, rarely does it contain my original work or ideas, it's usually blogging about someone else's achievements in the arts and tourism products that I've consumed. I do it for free but I know the value of what I see on my lonely adventures, I pay full price for my tickets because I value the arts culture and as an unpaid reviewer, I do it because I love what I see, but know I need to pay for its consumption like I need to pay at restaurants, because it wasn't MY hard work. The wonderful people who agreed to be interviewed here do it because they care about their art. Not for exposure.
We need to encourage local arts production and entertainment tourism in SA because it is good for other local industries such as hospitality, other tourism sectors like heritage, sport and ecotourism and things you wouldn't even necessarily like education. We are actually lucky to have musicians of Slava Grigoryan's calibre involved in teaching guitar students in South Australia! (Learned that at last year's Guitar festival!) If we don't pay our local performers properly for their work and in a timely manner, we lose them to other bigger arts festivals such as Edinburgh or Perth when they gain recognition and fame.
Not long ago, I wrote about how local and medium sized acts were being driven from last year's Fringe Festival, that the smaller official venues were having trouble retaining acts and staging performances through poor ticket sales and smaller-medium sized performers being ousted from free tickets and better publicised productions – not made in SA. They were lost in a sea of larger international marquee shows like notorious touring comedians, because the much smaller shows were less attended and less well advertised and not due to lack of program quality.
Beers About Songs by Ryan Adam Wells (of Sound and Fury fame) was run here 2 years ago and now is getting international acclaim at Fringe festivals all over the Northern Hemisphere. Many international former Fringe acts of that quality aren't coming back because they were running at too much of a loss to make money, not having enough people attend to have a guaranteed audience at every show to make performances worth doing and to offset the financial and artistic costs of being in SA in high Australian tourism season, in short making being their being here less worthwhile. Their loss hurts the local economy as well as South Australia's because Mad March is when we as a destination see our highest income from out of state visitors who come for the combination of high and popular arts, culture, sports and heritage tourism unique to SA. So we need to really encourage and throw in with local cultural industry creators, artists and venues NOW. Not just during the Fringe or Cabaret Festival or the Tour DownUnder.
As a cultural hub, Adelaide has been compared to cities with reputations in the creative industries like Portland in that various arts festivals are on here all year round – currently SALA and Guitars in Bars are running as I write this and it's also National Science Week, I believe – but if we drive out the producers of culture industry content, we are removing a huge source of revenue for the state. We have the potential it has been argued to be Oz's cultural capital all year around in the Guardian – but we can't do it at the expense of not paying smaller acts to develop into recognised medium productions and then into performers of the calibre to have international recognition -that brands SA as cultural and artistic haven- is as the case with the internationally acclaimed, Anya Anastasia (currently getting positive reviews in Edinburgh! You go, lady in red!). Former interviewees Anya Anastasia like Sapphire Snow, and names from 2017 to watch such as Viola Verve and Diana D'Vine (to name a few brilliant local women) curate quality shows all year round in the city (and last year Anya in the Hills) that have nurture new and upcoming talent, show cases local stars as well as bringing in headline quality performers all year around and exposes venues to new audiences.
Many larger independent acts bypass Adelaide on tours because have gained the reputation we don't pay for tickets until the last minute and try to get the best deal, not actually what the performance and performers deserve to be compensated. Adelaide this is not a good look for the state. It was by demand last year, that Post Modern Jukebox and 2Cellos, even came here at all on tour to sold out shows. We won't be able to sustain larger state arts institutions like the ASO and bringing in international quality shows like the David Bowie tribute collaboration that visited Adelaide with them in January this year at the Festival Centre, if we also don't fund local arts and it's creators & producers.
The cream rises to the top as my friend Kami says, but if we remove the smaller ponds for the fish to grow in, middle sized lakes for them to be seen and an ocean of creativity to release them into, we are never going to sustain an arts and creative industry in Adelaide that encourages local talent to stay, grow and mentor in fellow generations of new artists. If we want to create a viable cultural industry and enjoy the thriving performing arts culture of a capital city, we need to put our money where our mouths are. You need milk churning to be able to get to the cream.
Clara Rose Santill, all photos copyright, 2017. Thanks to Nexus Arts, the artists and interviewees past and present that continue to inspire this blogger!