The arts industry looks set to undergo another major overhaul. It might not be as radical and tumultuous as former arts minister George Brandis’ secretive and ill-conceived plan to gut the Australia Council, but the National Opera Review ordered by Brandis in 2014 released its 341-page “Discussion Paper” on Friday and it signals some profound changes for the arts.
Chaired by the highly respected former banker, Helen Nugent, the report is an astoundingly forensic investigation of the four federally funded opera companies in Australia — Opera Australia, State Opera of South Australia, West Australian Opera and Opera Queensland. Nugent and her three person panel were charged with examining their “artistic vibrancy, engagement with audiences and financial positions”.
Their discussion paper — compiled after public meetings and consulations with arts companies, funding bodies and venue managements — raises dozens of questions about their artistic and financial health. Any way they are answered points to major changes in the country’s opera sector which will impact on the entire performing arts.
Some of the more radical questions it poses include isolating Opera Australia to Sydney, selling off the OA’s valuable inner Sydney real estate, promoting Victorian Opera to Melbourne’s primary opera company, “exiting” Opera Queensland or making it the sole regional touring company in Australia. It also asks if the government should be funding Opera Australia’s increased staging of musicals with commercial producer John Frost. Continue Reading
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