The Seymour Centre has won a grant totalling $496,399 to deliver its 2021-22 Artistic Program.
This comes in the fourth batch of grants from the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund, a government initiative to support the arts and entertainment sector’s post-pandemic recovery.
The new funding, announced on July 30, is proposed to allow the delivery of 178 performances to 19,000 audience members across 16 months of multi-genre productions and events at the Seymour Centre.
In a statement, Seymour Centre Artistic Director and General Manager Timothy Jones said that the grant provides certainty to pursue “theatre works that champion new voices, question the status quo and inspire wide-ranging audiences through the creative expression of big ideas.”
At this time, the Seymour Centre does not have plans to include student productions as part of the grant, which was awarded specifically for maintaining the employment of professional artists and workers.
Jones says that the Seymour Centre’s long-term strategic plan aims to include “increased opportunities for students to make and present work,” and looks forward to meeting with student groups after lockdown.
As the mainstay for revues, performances and productions at USyd, the Seymour Centre plays a central role in fostering creative clubs and societies, who face significant logistical and financial stress.
The POC Revue Executive told Honi that the financial strains of producing a revue “greatly restricted our creative process, artistic curiosity and limited execution,” citing frustrations such as the non-affordable storage of costumes and sets, difficulty with covering costs, and extensive paperwork.
Even though fees to rent the Seymour Centre for performances are subsidised for student societies, the Movement and Dance Society (MADSOC) report paying up to $20,000 for the Everest Theatre, including backstage facilities.
Despite feeling supported by the USU and the Seymour Centre, the POC Revue Executive believes that a portion of the RISE grant should go to supporting student productions, as it would “completely revamp the arts scene at university and encourage a more vibrant and creative culture on campus.”
Jones said that enabling greater use of the Seymour Centre by student organisations was “not an eligibility criterion for the grant.”
In the media release, Vice-Chancellor Mark Scott did not comment on student-related access to the grant, stating that the funding will “allow us to answer the strong demand for our programs.”
The Morrison Government has been criticised for its slow response and not delivering on promises to the arts and entertainment sector — even by singer Guy Sebastian. As of July 20, only half of the $200 million RISE Fund had been distributed to the industry.
Data from the Australia Institute shows that the arts and entertainment sector contributes $14.7 billion annually to Australia’s economy.