Open Letter to Regional Arts NSW re Artlands Dubbo

OPEN LETTER published via reallybigroadtrip and sent to admin@regionalartsnsw.com.au

Artlands - Part Conference, Part Festival

Dear Regional Arts NSW,

I am writing in response to your reminder for a call to presenters for Artlands Dubbo 2016: http://artlands.com.au/artlands-conference.

After much thought and with great sadness, I shall not be applying to your event. I say this despite being a maker and supporter of regional/remote community creative practice and a previous Keynote Speaker for RAA at Kumuwuki in Goolwa.

My reason is that it is impossible to work and travel without any form of payment, never mind being expected (on top of working for free and at great personal cost) to then pay for registration, even at the early bird discounted rate. It is also unacceptable to expect us to apply elsewhere for limited available funding so we can cover these costs for your events.

This isn’t a personal attack on Artland Dubbo’s organisational team; I know many previous RAA gatherings have also adopted the same policy (also resulting in my non-attendance at those events). I understand that budgets for events like these are tight, but so is the economic environment for artists and educators, especially those in the community arts and experimental/emerging arts sector.

I wish I didn’t have to write this letter, nor bring the discussion to a broader public attention, but I feel that without speaking up about this issue nothing will ever change. It gives community arts and regional arts a bad name to not fairly support those who wish to share their skills, knowledge and creations with your attendees. This policy limits your presenters to those who have the independent means by which to cover their own costs and does not give a fair reflection of the expertise and enthusiastic efforts of the broader sector.

The attendance fees themselves ($625 Early Bird / $825 Full Price) equally present a massive barrier to independent artists and producers wanting to attend any RAA events as delegates.

Independent artists have for far too long been told that their work is worthy enough to be selected, but not worth enough to offer anything more than ‘exposure’ in return, and this has to end.

Yours with deep regret and a hope for a more constructive, contribution to the development of our collective sectors,

Fee Plumley
reallybigroadtrip