“…in Adelaide, the city is the festival, you can’t escape, it’s complete immersion.”
Brisbane performer, teacher and artist, Dani Cabs has only been involved in the Adelaide Fringe since 2015 (being nominated for Best Emerging Artist) as well as doing six other festivals since then. He told us about the highs and lows of his 2016 festival experience and how they differ to other cities.
Why did you start doing the festival circuit?
I needed a platform to try something new artistically, moving from visual arts to performance art and comedy. The festival circuit provided that with very little questioning.
How is it interacting with different cities? Does your perception of them change every festival?
I feel the different cities do interact with the festival within the city in differing ways. For example, in Adelaide, the city is the festival, you can’t escape, it’s complete immersion. Yet with other festivals like Melbourne Fringe or Wonderland in Brisbane, the festivals are just a small mark on the busy social calendar within the city.
This helps alter my perception of that city, I visited Adelaide once out of festival time and found it a very different place, I didn’t have the marauding family of performers to bounce off every day, or the copious amounts of creative culture to take in. Although in Melbourne, the festival doesn’t seem to change the city much at all, the people and entertainment seem to be there throughout the whole year.
Are there any similarities between certain festivals?
There are similarities in the performances and performers that bounce from one festival to another. Although the type of energy surrounding Adelaide Fringe has been the standout for me with the little amount of experience I’ve had.
How do you feel people treat The Arts industry and artists?
I feel the arts are not taken seriously, sure there are a handful of the public that support the artist world, but there is nowhere near enough support for us in general. This has to start with a cultural education and appreciation of the arts from a young age, which is non-existent in Australia. People are happy to sit in a pub and drink 2-3 drinks in an hour or two but won’t happily pay the same money to watch a show and support the arts. Why would they when they are told by our government from the get go, that arts and culture isn’t important. With every new budget our leaders cut from the arts and education and put money towards mining and bombing. So naturally people tend to see the arts as a joke, or novelty, not an integral part of our society and education.
What do you think about Adelaide Fringe Festival in particular? Is it getting too big?
This is my second Adelaide Fringe, so I can’t compare with how it was. What I can say is I feel there is far too much going on at once during February and March. Over the last two years I’ve heard repeatedly that there aren’t enough punters, that The Festival and festivals are over-saturated. That’s a little bitter sweet for me because the over-saturation has allowed me to be at this festival as an artist but then also made it very hard for me to gain an audience, which seems to be a regular occurrence for most artists I have spoken to.
Have you had any difficulties with press or punters during this festival?
I’ve had no negative experience with any of the aforementioned. One thing though is I’ve had media book comps for the show, but then they don’t turn up. It’s happened quite a few times this year. Something like that can throw a performer off and I think is a bit unfair.
The call that I’ve heard lately is that “things need to change”, what do you think?
I am not a big name that attracts huge crowds so I never expected to sell out, or make large amounts of money, but over the last two years I have lost a vast sum because I came to Adelaide to put on a show. How can emerging artists and self-funded artists sustain this form of loss within their new businesses? If new artists can’t sustain this and there is now other form of support, then where will new and creative forms of art blossom from? I’ve heard of certain circuits providing cheaper venue hire or even support with accommodation for artists. Surely it’s not too hard to figure out that the best way to assist in creating new and exciting work would be to support artists, not strip them of all their time, money and energy for little to no reward.