As we look towards the future, we’re thinking about artists and audiences. What are the new possibilities for connection and exchange? Supporting artists to take risks and advance new ideas has never felt more urgent.

ACE Open recently learned that we’ve been successful in our application for four-year funding from the Australia Council for the Arts. This will help us meet our goals to nurture the careers of artists and to share their work with diverse audiences in South Australia and beyond.

We also know we’re among only 95 organisations nationally to receive the funding and that many of our peers have missed out. Other South Australian arts organisations, and some of our Contemporary Art Organisations Australia colleagues, have lost an important source of financial support.

We understand what this feels like and stand in solidarity with those affected. For us, the funding marks a milestone on the road we’ve been travelling since we formed in 2017. Born as a merger between Australian Experimental Art Foundation (AEAF) and the Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia (CACSA), ACE Openwas established after these organisations learnt they had lost their federal support in 2016.

We’re grateful for our funding, which recognises the role ACE Open plays in South Australia and nationally, and acknowledge that the Australia Council has to operate within the constraints it’s given by government. In combination with the strong support we receive from the state government and our donors, this four-year commitment gives us some certainty as we look to the future in what are difficult times.

Australia needs a big and diverse contemporary arts sector. A healthy society supports art practice at all levels – large and small, emerging and established. It encourages experimentation alongside more traditional practices; there should be room for community-led initiatives as well as esoteric flag-bearers. We also need to nurture the supporting mechanisms for the arts, including arts writers, critics and informed audiences.

Arts and culture is a $111.7bn industry, employing more people than mining, IT or essential services, but its financial contribution can’t be the only yardstick it’s measured by. Small and medium not-for-profit organisations create vital work that is enjoyed by large audiences – and they rely on external funding to make this happen. We’re no different, and we know that our peers’ losses weaken culture right across Australia. Which is why we support the work of the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) and others campaigning for an urgent increase to funding for the arts.

During the pandemic, we’re working with all our collaborators to find ways to reinvent and deliver as much as possible of the program we’d planned for 2020, continuing into 2021. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay in the loop.

ACE Open Team.