Axe looms over festival

Talitha Wolfe and Tayler NealeAlbany Advertiser

The Great Southern leg of the Perth International Arts Festival is all but cancelled, with its future format to be decided at a meeting in Albany on Monday.

The Albany Advertiser has been told by several sources the Great Southern Festival will cease to exist in its current form.

It is yet to be confirmed if it is the result of funding cuts.

The festival has been a regular part of the Albany arts culture scene since 2013 and has hosted several internationally renowned acts, such as Nathaniel Rateliff and the Nighsweats last year, and artists including Jack Charles and William McInnes.

Member for Albany Peter Watson confirmed LotteryWest funding for the 2018 program was expected to fall short.

“The grant for the 2018 festival has not yet been approved but is expected to be the maximum permitted under the Act and in the order of $7.489 million,” he said.

“This represents a slight reduction over funding for the 2017 festival (which was $7.793 million) due to reduced sales results of lottery products from the year prior.

“This grant supports the festival’s core activities. Lotterywest does not direct festival programming.

“This is a matter for the festival executive and board.”

Author and Creative Albany vice-president Jon Doust expects the local creative community will band together to fill the void left by PIAF but said it would be harder without the support of the festival.

“It is very sad the Perth festival will no longer operate the Great Southern satellite program,” he said.

“I don’t think the community is able to put on a Great Southern Festival of its own encompassing all the various artistic ingredients.”

Doust said the Great Southern Festival was able to offer creative events that Perth would not be able to.

“It also inspired cultural events, for example the Snake Run at the Skate Park — that event could only take place in Albany,” he said.

“Not only did (PIAF) bring cultural events into town, they encouraged and created events that include local artists.

“It wasn’t just about celebrating culture, it was about nurturing cultural elements within the Great Southern community.”

Mr Watson said he was keen to see PIAF have a continued presence in Albany and would listen to the local arts community to find out what their ideas were for a sustainable future.

PIAF was contacted for comment.

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