Ensemble Offspring Statement on Australia Council Funding Announcement

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As you may have already heard, on Friday 3rd April, the Australia Council for the Arts announced the results of the latest Four Year Funding (FYF) round for the long term support for Australian arts organisations from 2021-24. We were devastated to be informed that after over 8 years of core organisational support from Australia Council, Ensemble Offspring’s application was declined for funding.

We would like to acknowledge how much the Australia Council’s support over the past decade has meant to the growth of our small company and where we are today. The sad truth is that there is just not enough money to go around for the arts in Australia and indeed we will continue to lobby the government after COVID-19 passes to change this fact.

Before we go on however we must congratulate our successful peers in the sector – the AMC, AAO, CIMF, TURA New Music and Speak Percussion – all highly worthy recipients and two new organisations brought into the fore both of whom we are very close to. Our commiserations go out to the other unfunded excellence we see all around us now including ATYP, Urban Theatre Projects, Branch Nebula and Liquid Architecture – along with new applicants Gondwana Choirs, Pinchgut Opera and Sydney Chamber Opera who were also unsuccessful in their applications. Only 13 out of the total 95 funded orgs were from music – and in NSW now the sad fact of all this is that funded excellence in music no longer exists – so now we all look to the state and private donors to fill the gap.

Like many small-to-medium (S2M) Arts organisations, Ensemble Offspring makes an enormous contribution to the artistic ecosystem of the nation, punching above our weight and supporting often ignored or neglected areas of the industry. We have followed a distinctly uncommercial path of supporting emerging artists and championing marginalised voices, such as female-identifying and First Nations composers. We are ‘feeders’ into the larger organisations such as the orchestras, very often nurturing and grooming composers to eventually find their success on the big stage. This activity often goes unnoticed in the broader scheme of things, but just like an ecosystem in nature, without us the big fish become hungry very quickly. It is indeed the emerging artists, composers and performers who will suffer in the long term and the fact is that an ecosystem is simply broken without all the elements being nurtured and serviced.

Yes we have sustained a major blow, but it’s not the end of Ensemble Offspring and what certainly has not been diminished is our desire to continue to do what we do (watch our brand new 2019 showreel here). In fact I am personally more fired up than ever right now! In adversity, our resolve only strengthens and our hearts beat stronger. We remain resolutely committed to our vision, our audiences, our musicians and our sector. We once again thank the Myer family for their recent vote of confidence and thank you all for your support over the years.

x Claire, EO management & board

From our patron…

“The defunding of Ensemble Offspring is a shock. No ensemble has done more for contemporary Australian music performers and composers. They are internationally acknowledged Australian performers, playing the music of our time, with a proud commitment to the work of women and First Nations composers. Just a month after being awarded the prestigious Sidney Myer Award – then this!

If we want a healthy Australian creative infrastructure it must include structural support to contemporary composition and performers committed to the public performance of such work. The music of Ensemble Offspring is not ‘classical easy listening’: it is often challenging, always enquiring and engaging and their audience is young, broad ranging and vibrant. In all, a bewildering decision and a blow to a brave company celebrating its 25th year of championing Australian music of our time.”

– Shane Simpson, Ensemble Offspring Patron