When private gallerist Paul Greenaway OAM set out to redress the balance of what he saw as a disproportionate focus on venerating artists long deceased, rather than those currently practising, there emerged a week-long festival of exhibitions in 21 metropolitan and 20 regional galleries. Bringing to the public eye the work of artists still breathing life into new works of art, the South Australian Living Artists Festival (SALA) was and remains, 20 years on, a thoroughly inclusive open framework on which artists at any level, in any visual format and in any willing venue, can build new audiences for their work.
We were at the table at the humble but buoyant beginnings, guaranteeing artists could have their time in the sun no matter how distant they lived from Adelaide, drawing people into the galleries, cafés, wineries, indeed public buildings and spaces of every kind, as well as the artist’s private studios, with focus regions, bus tours and driving maps in the early years building support for the fledgling Festival.
Now a South Australian institution, SALA Festival has grown exponentially to well over 600 exhibitions and events, 32% of them in 2017 outside metro boundaries, the Fleurieu Peninsula having the largest representation of any region outside the Adelaide city mile. Thousands take advantage of regional bus and self-drive tours and regional areas initiate their own celebrations of cross-generational art-making of the visual variety.
Our Breaking Ground Award is presented in partnership with SALA and our artists’ Professional Development Road Trip, NEBULA, brings regional artists ready to take their next career steps to Adelaide for a three day SALA immersion.
Written and researched by Jo Pike for Country Arts SA