Question: Adelaide Fringe Funding

In Parliament, Questions

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (15:01): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question to the Treasurer on the topic of the Adelaide Fringe.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: A report that was released by PwC in August this year showed that if the state government increased its funding for the Fringe by $2 million, from $2.4 million to $4.4 million per year it would generate $160 million per year in gross economic impact. This same report also confirms that the Adelaide Fringe is not only South Australia’s most popular major event, it is the state’s most productive one, with a return on investment that is unequalled by any other arts, cultural or sporting initiative.

The PwC report also shows that increasing the government’s investment in Fringe will help it to bounce back bigger and better following the challenges of keeping the festival going through COVID, with obvious benefits, of course, to local artists and the arts industry, who have done it so tough. Despite this, for every ticket sold at the Fringe, the SA government only invests approximately $3, compared to other major SA events that receive somewhere between $10 and $100 of support per ticket sold.

My questions to the minister are: has he read this PwC report, and will the government provide additional funding to the Adelaide Fringe, given the clear evidence that this funding would provide the state with an enormous return on investment and, indeed, assist an industry that is harder hit by COVID compared to most?

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (Treasurer) (15:02): I was very interested to read the report that had been produced, I think, for the Fringe. I had Treasury officers seek further information to see what the other arts festivals that they referred to were, but surprisingly they refused to provide that information to me.

The Hon. T.A. Franks: I will get you a briefing.

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: If The Hon. Tammy Franks is going to get me the answers that’s great, because they wouldn’t provide them to my Treasury officers. If the Hon. Tammy Franks has got them, that’s excellent. I am very happy to collaborate and have a discussion with the Hon. Tammy Franks on the issue.

The Hon. T.A. Franks interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order!

The Hon. R.I. LUCAS: I am very happy to have a discussion with the Hon. Tammy Franks on the issue, Mr President. Yes, I was interested in the report. As the member would know—I think all members would know—our Premier is also the responsible minister. He is a passionate lover of all things artistic—or most things artistic, I think—and through the global pandemic last year managed, through his budget, because there were obviously certain things that couldn’t continue to be funded, as with the tourism portfolio, for example, and therefore there was able to be funding diverted from things which were not going on to things which could go on.

I know that he and his officers are looking at what capacity they have in relation to artistic endeavours generally, not just the Fringe, but obviously a number of sections of his portfolio have lobbied him for continuing support, the Fringe being one of them.

I am also aware, having had some discussions with my federal colleagues, that the Fringe has previously accessed funding—and I will probably get the name of the federal fund wrong, but I think the acronym is RISE—and they were successful in gaining not only additional funding from the state government last year but additional funding from the federal government. I understand they have also made application for funding from our federal colleagues, and I have had discussions with federal ministers in relation to that.

I have asked Treasury officers as recently as this morning, because this is obviously an area of great passion and interest to me as well, as all my colleagues would know—anything to do with the artistic community. I asked Treasury officers this morning to liaise with arts officers to try to ascertain whether the Fringe was going to be able to access further federal funding from either that fund or indeed any other fund.

There is ongoing interest from, most importantly, the Premier and the Minister for the Arts in relation to this issue. There is no commitment from the government, either from the Premier or the Minister for the Arts or indeed myself, at this particular stage, but it, together with a number of other submissions for support, are being considered by the government.