Restless Dance Theatre is devastated to learn that the company’s application for multi-year funding (2021-24) was unsuccessful. This is bitter news indeed that will clip the wings of Restless as Australia’s leading company working with dancers with and without disability.
Restless has enjoyed stunning success since Michelle Ryan was appointed Artistic Director in 2013 and has recently won many awards and achieved great critical acclaim.
In March this year Michelle won the prestigious Australia Council Dance Award in recognition of her brilliant contribution to the dance sector over many years.
Michelle commented that: “Restless is the only dance company that provides professional career pathways for artists with disability. We strive to create bold new work that celebrates diversity on stage nationally and internationally. I am absolutely shocked by this decision that will impact on the disability arts sector and the role that Restless plays in the arts ecology in general.”
Restless is acknowledged to be a leader in its field. The recent successes and acclamation Restless has enjoyed make it difficult for the company to comprehend why it has been removed from the pool of multi-year funded organisations by the Australia Council.
With limited State funding the future of Restless is precarious and its survival threatened.
The Australia Council has a strong commitment to supporting diversity and Restless is the only Australian dance company providing professional work for dancers with disability. The loss of the company will decrease the diversity of the arts in Australia.
“The company is in the strongest place it has ever been in its near 30 year history.” said Nick Hughes, Restless Company Manager, “Our artistic achievements and the recognition that we have received for the excellence of our work with dancers with disability have never been higher. We can only attribute this action to the chronic shortage of funding that the Australia Council has suffered in recent years.”
The Australia Council will make some reduced “transitional” funding available for 2021. Restless will now regroup, draw upon its remaining supporters and redesign its program for the future.
Restless congratulates the many successful organisations that have received four year funding. It is particularly heartening to see the number of new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations that have been supported. We also applaud the support for organisations working with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse and LGBTQI communities. This aspect of the Australia Council’s commitment to diversity deserves congratulation.
We also extend our collegiate commiserations to the many other organisations who were unsuccessful with their applications. The dance and theatre sectors have been hit particularly hard with these decisions. Many may not survive given the added stress of the coronavirus disruptions. We are all in this together.
Michelle Ryan’s acceptance speech for her 2020 Australia Council Dance Award is very pertinent. Watch it here