Slings and Arrows: All Aboard for SA’s Arts Junket Bonanza!

This month Ash Whitefly flies foul of Adelaide’s arts adoration, and takes aim at what he believes are wasteful junkets, and Council sponsorships that conflict directly with it’s own strategic plan.

A   J U N K E T   B O N A N Z A ?

The Adelaide arts community is doing it tough. Which is why a $200,000 junket this month (August 12-15) to Edinburgh for a fortunate 50 arts movers and shakers is just the escapist ticket. It’s all about that Scottish city’s summer arts festival season, which long ago seeded Adelaide with a few ideas of its own. Are you on the flight list? Glad-handers from Arts South Australia, SA Tourism, Adelaide Fringe, Adelaide Festival of Arts, Festivals Adelaide, Cabaret Festival, Holden Street Theatres, Adelaide Dance Theatre, Arts Projects Australia, Brink Productions, Gluttony, Ignition/The German Club, Patch Theatre, Slingsby Theatre Co., State Theatre, The Social Creative, Tuxedo Cat, Windmill Theatre Co., “and various SA performing artists”. Last one to depart, please turn out the lights! Premier Jay Weatherill says it’s all about growing markets, boosting tourism reach and attracting “inbound artists, creative producers and programmers to visit Adelaide during the Fringe and Festival of Arts”. At a cost of about $4000 per head, the travel costs to Edinburgh may come out of earlier government handouts, but details are hazy, especially about the ‘various artists’. Don’t ask. Jay’s elusive May 17 invite described it as ‘Made in Adelaide’, “a high-profile presence”. (Perhaps it should have been Paid in Adelaide? The tax-take was paid – in Adelaide.) Fifty artsy types partying over four days of fun with the Scots should be super. For Jack Snelling, Arts Minister, the chance to lead an O/S comedy conga line should provide much relief from his health portfolio’s angst. But apparently it’s a delegation, not a junket. Got to get that wording right.

Slings-arrows-junket-bonanza-edinburgh-fringeThe ‘Made in Adelaide’ delegation touches down in Edinburgh this week

C A S H   F O R   C A R B O N

City Council’s sponsorship handouts for 2016–2018 festivals and events slipped quietly through recently. They revealed that the Clipsal 500 scored a very nice $55,000 public money windfall, but unlike most other applicants, refused to declare its total project cost. While claiming an economic impact of $39m, the secrecy once again underlines Weatherill government reluctance to reveal how much it costs us in these hard times. One of the four key council assessment criteria was “Green: the degree to which the event employs environmentally sustainable practices”. The city’s keenly focussed on becoming a carbon-neutral city ASAP. So it was surprising that there was no hint of the heavy carbon output of V8 toys grunting in squealing, grinding loops for three smoky days and nights: an ocean of petrol, oil and ethanol, burning to a fog of carbon dioxide and monoxide, rolling on tonnes of fresh rubber, most of which is thrown out at the end of the event. Instead, council bean counters focussed on the last event’s “free transport to ticket holders”; using “recycled materials including wooden pallets and 44-gallon drums in event design.” Scouts were claimed to have recycled 12.61 tonnes of bottles, and Spotless and OzHarvest ‘rescued’ 2211 meals (a diplomatic way of describing the food waste but not recording that which was ‘unrescueable’ and was binned). It made it sound like a green folk festival, with dreamy visitors sipping chardonnay beneath the park lands’ leafy canopy. That $55,000 is also guaranteed for 2018 and 2019. Thanks for coming!

 How green is all that burnt rubber?

M I N I M A L   G R E  E N

Many others among the 24 sponsorship applicants also failed to win points on being green. Some truly desperate excuses arose. For example, Tour Down Under got a ticked box because it provided lots of bike racks (!); OzAsia Festival for “recyclers and op shops in set design”; and Adelaide Film Festival suggested that visitors might cycle between cinemas! The Adelaide Festival of Ideas – surely THE body to come up with brilliant green innovation – failed, with nothing to offer. So did the 2017 China Town Lunar New Year Street Party – but there was no mention of bean sprouts and green tea which should have scored some points. Several others, desperate to think of something – anything – offered to promote “sustainable travel options” on their websites. Monty Python lives. Ashley Whitefly is Executive Director of the Adelaide Whitefly Institute of Diplomatic Studies

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