Artists who were part of the Biennale of Australian Art have been told there is no money left in the event’s coffers to pay them just a week after the close of the inaugural six-week contemporary arts festival.
BOAA director Julie Collins sent some participating artists an email on Sunday advising them that artist payments would be delayed and the organisation was carrying “significant debt due to not reaching ticket targets”.
Ms Collins is negotiating with potential donors for the balance, selling assets and launching a fundraising campaign to ensure artists receive what they have been promised.
It is understood some artists have been paid, some have been paid in part on invoices already sent, and some are still waiting for payment.
“We have been negotiating with one of our supporters to cover the shortfall but this is taking much longer than anticipated. In the short term we are selling off assets and doing some additional fund raising to improve cash flow. This means there will be a delay in your artist payments while we put all this in place,” the email stated.
In the email Ms Collins said any sold works would still be paid within 30 days.
”I’m so sorry to have done this, BOAA was all about raising enough money for artists fees and in the end we fell short of that target as most potential donors couldn’t get their heads around why artists needed to be paid, so frustrating,” Ms Collins wrote.
“I believed ticketing would make up the short fall and although numbers were good as a first time event we were hit with quite a lot of unexpected event costs and this has been difficult to manage.”
In the email Ms Collins assured artists that their fees were her priority in the list of debtors.
“I know many of you are struggling and need the money ASAP. Again I’m sorry and I hope you all understand that I have done everything possible to avoid this, it has been extremely stressful.”
Ballarat artist Josh Muir said he was waiting on more than $20,000 promised from sales of several pieces of his work.
“It’s really frustrating and I’m waiting for the pay in the lead up to Christmas to get through and for my family to get through,” he said.
“Now I wonder whether I’m going to get paid. It was all great and wonderful and for all I supported it but now I wonder if I’ve done the right thing.”
Ms Collins disputed Mr Muir’s claims, saying he had been paid his artist fee in full and his work had not sold.
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