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Fringe Festival feels John Hargreaves’ axe

johnboy 20 August 2009 76

Here’s some video of just how much John Hargreaves liked the Fringe Festival in February:

Today he’s announced that he’s getting rid of it and giving $30,000 dollars to a rather surprised National Folk Festival to do something Fringey.

Now have a listen to just how surprised the Folk Festival’s Jared Wilkins was when asked about this on 666.

But for real excitement, wrap your ears around Jorian’s Gardner’s anger over the manner, timing, and nature of the announcement.

Also fear not. Beer And Meat On A Stick Day (BAMOASD) is pretty much going to be the sole survivor of the reductions to the multicultural festival.

UPDATE: The ABC brings word that a startled Jon Stanhope is trying to hose down the fire as he edges John Hargreaves away from it:

    Mr Stanhope has apologised to Mr Gardner for how the situation has been handled.

    But he denies taking over responsibility for the event is a veiled rebuke of Mr Hargreaves.

    “It’s just a reflection of the reality of the changing structure and the changing nature of the way in which the Fringe Festival would in the future be funded,” he said.


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76 Responses to Fringe Festival feels John Hargreaves’ axe
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Snarky Snarky 4:26 pm 20 Aug 09

GB #39 The MULTICULTURAL FESTIVAL ran over budget.

I stand corrected – should have been more circumspect when using info read upside down from a paper on the rack while waiting for my lunchtime burger 🙂

phototext phototext 4:32 pm 20 Aug 09

I find it hard to believe that The Fringe spent $950,000. Surely that figure is for the whole festival, not just The Fringe, otherwise that was some well paid burlesque dancers.

bloodnut bloodnut 4:41 pm 20 Aug 09

johnboy said :

I think more pertinent is to ask why if the government is continuing to fund artistic programs (which it is) are they cutting one that a lot of people actually like instead of the rest of their crap fests?

I just looked through the thread again.

As I understand its not cut. It’s been re-allocated. So the money’s there.

Which is like a demotion for an underperforming employee or alternatively the actions of a vindictive boss.

Which brings up the real questions:

Was it the perceived mismanagement by Jorian of the event;
Did Jorian simply piss off the wrong person; or
Is it a combination of both.

When this is adequately answered I can appropriately apportion some blame.

Pommy bastard Pommy bastard 4:51 pm 20 Aug 09

GB said :

seekay said :

If there is a genuine demand for what is on offer at the Fringe, then it clearly will not need to take public money.

If there was a genuine demand for roads, bridges and footpaths they would clearly not need any public money.

Apples and oranges comparison.

If we all could choose whether to use roads, bridges and footpaths, or not, and our society could function without them, then you may have a point.

However some of us, most in fact, can and do live without these festivals, and choose to do so. Why should we subsidise them?

And if these entertainments are “free” then as Hadley would have us believe, then what is the problem? Go ahead and put them on.

Trouble is they are not “free” are they? Joe taxpayer subs them, so that those who enjoy this sort of stuff can enjoy them.

Care to subsidise me a ticket so I can go enjoy Alice Cooper, citizens of Canberra?

Thumper Thumper 6:03 pm 20 Aug 09

From memory Hargeaves had some misgivings about government money funding burlesque. Maybe someone got into his ear?

Either way, I think JBs comment is extremely pertinent.

GB GB 6:39 pm 20 Aug 09

Jorian seems pretty clear that $30,000 would only have covered the venue (the tent). So that sounds like a cut.

I’m not sure whether the Fringe lost any money — they would be very hard pressed to contribute much to a half million dollar loss.

And I haven’t seen any signs of the Floriade losses being treated similarly.

Jorian is pretty good at pissing people off, but that’s no reason for trashing the fringe.

Sunbeam Sunbeam 9:05 pm 20 Aug 09

…appropriately apportioning blame? if Jorian is to blame, then surely there are ways of “demoting” him without losing the whole fringe?

i think the real questions are about the ACT government having an unrealistic or misdirected understanding of what the national folk festival is or should be, if it thinks it is a good idea to redirect the fringe funds there.

after all, isn’t it a bit odd to have the same group direct both its own festival as well as the fringe alternative to it?

housebound housebound 9:33 pm 20 Aug 09

From the TV news, Jorian must still be in someone’s good books, because he got an apology from the Chief Minister for a lack of consultation.

I-filed I-filed 11:45 pm 20 Aug 09

housebound said :

From the TV news, Jorian must still be in someone’s good books, because he got an apology from the Chief Minister for a lack of consultation.

Housebound I’d like to think it was an apology to Jorian himself but I don’t think so. I think Jorian was simply the vehicle for a Stanhopian reversal, and only because of the media and blog reaction. And I suspect there will be some strategising already in His Nibs’ office about whether there’s anything they don’t want the “luvvies” to notice that they can put out at the same time as, and masked by, some fresh spun announcement about the $30,000.

Gungahlite Gungahlite 11:49 pm 20 Aug 09

Hargreaves is a tool. Why not divert some of the $400,000.00 the government is saving by not bringing AFL games to Canberra next year to save the Fringe

Digga Digga 12:50 am 21 Aug 09

Thumper – yes, here’s some coverage of the taboo and contention between Jorian and Hargreaves earlier in the year:

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/coverup-call-burlesque-lays-bare-a-bawdy-brawl/1433742.aspx

bloodnut bloodnut 9:12 am 21 Aug 09

Sunbeam said :

…appropriately apportioning blame? if Jorian is to blame, then surely there are ways of “demoting” him without losing the whole fringe?

i think the real questions are about the ACT government having an unrealistic or misdirected understanding of what the national folk festival is or should be, if it thinks it is a good idea to redirect the fringe funds there.

after all, isn’t it a bit odd to have the same group direct both its own festival as well as the fringe alternative to it?

I have always had a deep seated need to blame someone. If still socially acceptable I have no doubt I would have my own lynch mob.

No questioning here of the Govt’s understanding of the Arts in general. The NFF isn’t a great choice, but I’m unsure if there’s any other major National Festival in Canberra to redirect funds around the fringe of…

In the interim I’ve sent Mr Stanhope an email outlining my concerns.

GB GB 9:44 am 21 Aug 09

Pommy bastard said :

However some of us, most in fact, can and do live without these festivals, and choose to do so. Why should we subsidise them?

{Warning: patronise mode ‘on’} Ah, but you do live with them, and benefit from them, in ways that your pretentiously anti-arts posing blinds you to. But even with your blather, the world is still a better place from their existence — and not just for people who go to them.{/patronise mode}

astrojax astrojax 12:59 pm 21 Aug 09

sorry, what? we have a gov’t that is prepared to pay $400,000 for a single game of afl between two teams running worse than last and somewhere worse than that and wonder why no-one turned up in the cold and rain with the game on the teev, then try to spruik the goodness of its heart with a measly $30k to a successful festival, much loved from the above posts, and it is also hiving it off to a totally different audience who will be paying for the privilege of seeing its folk music.

ahh, bureaucracy, dontcha luv it!

TheObserver TheObserver 1:36 pm 21 Aug 09

Hadley – your comment says it all:

“He has never been even remotely easy to deal with, is constantly argumentative, insulting without even realising it and can treat his volunteers and performers like absolute dirt, but you only need to look at what he has facilitated with the Fringe Festival to see that it’s worth putting up with him for that”.

Sorry, but if Jorian is feeling put out, and that picture of him posing in the Crimes with a face like a dropped pie shows a lack of gruntlement – well Governments can give and they can take away, but you will find them more prepared to keep giving if you behave with a modicum of courtesy. Biting, or rather savaging the hand that feeds you is not sustainable. And this is particularly so when the Multicultural Fest is bleeding public money hand over fist. The ratepayers of the Territory deserve a better return on the tax take. Let him find a private sponsor – and see how long carrying on like the proverbial pork chop keeps the sponsor’s $ flowing in.

As for treating artists and volunteers like dirt – Hadley you could not be any wronger. No amount of apprehended success is an excuse for bullying – and treating perfomers and volunteers like dirt is exactly that. There is a conceit in the arts that bad behaviour is somehow excusable because someone is ‘artistic’. Total BS IMHO. Dig a little deeper and you will find that those that enjoy enduring respect within the arts are those that demonstrate empathy, humility and self insight, rather than rudeness, arrogance and self-obsession.

From what I know about the NFF this might be a good fit – and the performers and the volunteers would not get treated like dirt and nor would anyone have to put up with constant arguments and gratuitous rudeness. The Fringe may blossom as a result.

BTW for those of you that think the folkies get too much already, if you check the financials on http://www.folkfestival.asn.au (I did) you’ll find that the NFF gets less than $50k or so and probably gives more back to the Territory in license fees for EPIC and other fees like liquor licensing than it receives in funding. And that is not counting the injection into the ACT economy over Easter. Even if the folkie accepts an extra $30k a year this will probably still be the case – so who is subsidizing who?

Nambucco Deliria Nambucco Deliria 3:16 pm 21 Aug 09

Jorian should’ve co-opted Chick Henry as a concultant. I believe he’s top notch at sourcing public funds and his previous attempts at bringing cullture to the Capital have always included a lot of burlesque.

GB GB 4:38 pm 21 Aug 09

Regardless of whether Jorian is the right person to run it, we’ve lost the Fringe as it was. Or more particularly, the tax money to fund it. Many will mourn, some will cheer. And its important to give the anarcho-capitalists something to cheer about occasionally, otherwise they’ll get sulky and want to privatise the health system.

A fringe event within the folk festival will satisfy none of the same goals (though it might be a bonus for people who are attending); and if they try to run an event outside the folk fest it will be inefficient and outside their charter. I agree with Theobserver that the folk fest is a great example of treating people well — but many have serious disagreements with them about their focus on quality (including well-paid overseas highlights) vs inclusiveness (paying local musos). I think its good that they don’t try to be everything.

The multicultural fest was a bad fit to fund a fringe primarily because it was not an arts festival, but a ‘cultural’ one; and thus was in Disability, Housing and Community Services; rather than Arts. Stanhope should give artsACT the money to disburse to someone who can do a fringe; instead of pissing it up the wall in a shotgun marriage with the folk festival.

And meat on a stick day should be preserved at all costs, of course.

BTW with a certain degree of irony I note that today it was reported that Dominic Mico thinks Hargreaves decision is great. Like Jorian, Mico’s reputation is a curious mix of admiration for events pulled off, vs alarm at the number of trampled bodies.

kakosi kakosi 7:44 pm 21 Aug 09

From the point of view of someone who only just discovered the Fringe Festival, and now realises it was probably the last one that will ever happen, this feels like a tragedy.

The last one was held spectacularly during a summer heatwave in the centre of town. It had atmosphere and it felt like nothing I’d ever been to before.

The ACT Government doesn’t seem to be able to budget or plan and quite frankly this proves we should never have been given self-government. The place was much better money managed before we got our own set of “would-be if they could-be” mock politicians.

I wrote to Hargraves and received a very polite but “no joy” response about changing their minds regarding what they are doing with the Fringe. It may be they were considering cutting it completely and the modest funding is some kind of way to try and “keep people happy”.

If the Fringe is put into the Folk Festival with it’s steep entry fee I think definitely we will never see the event in full “glory” again. It certainly won’t have that centre of the city atmosphere I was lucky to witness.

What a crappy city this is sometimes…

I-filed I-filed 12:55 am 22 Aug 09

GB said :

Like Jorian, Mico’s reputation is a curious mix of admiration for events pulled off, vs alarm at the number of trampled bodies.

Indeed. During the TAU Theatre days in the 1980s Mico had the run of a publicly funded theatre, and he milked the opportunity, putting on his own very mediocre shows with no apparent regard for conflicts of interest. Unfortunately, the theatre burnt down along with all the records – presumably a coincidence that it was just before an audit was going to be conducted, which was particularly unfortunate as there were quite some murmurs about the management of the place.

Anna Key Anna Key 7:33 am 22 Aug 09

Fully agree with TheObserver. No other sponsor would put up with the kind of behaviour discussed here from an event’s organiser. While Hargreaves’s behaviour may not have been ideal, what would have been achieved in discussions, other than a indignant Jorian.

If people want to go see it, pay for it themselves, or set up a fundraising arrangment. It seems that most of those here who seem to say the enjoy it, but won’t pay to go see it. Can we get a subsidy for cinema tickets too? I love the movies but can’t afford $17 for a ticket too often.

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