Australian Centre for Phography to close, delaying a 'pathway to extenction'
In a huge blow to the photographic community in Australia, the Australian Centre for Photography (ACP) recently announced that it would be closing its doors in December. As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, the ACP board stated that the programs at the Darlinghurst gallery would cease while the organization is restructured to protest it from "ongoing financial losses". The effects of the COVID-19 lockdown along with funding cuts have been identified as the major causes of its current predicament, along with a shift to smartphone photography.
Opened in 1974, the idea for the ACP was conceived by David Moore, was to establish a non-profit cultural centre to advance the photography in Australia.
While not a commercial gallery space, the ACP has nonetheless been responsible for helping launch the careers of eminent photographers including Tracey Moffatt and Bill Henson. "We are perhaps, after all, entering unchartered waters with regard to both the political and economic landscape. Historically, of course, any historian can tell you that the diminution of the arts tends to parallel the rise of barbarism. But we shall have to wait and see," Henson said.
In what’s been described by director and chief executive Pierre Arpin as a series of major setbacks for the arts sector, the ACP's four full-time, two part-time staff, and 15 casual tutors will wrap up on 16 December. ACP chairman Michael Blomfield confirmed that the ACP will not receive any operational funding from federal or state funding bodies for the next three years as a minimum, and that “continuing to operate in our current form is a pathway to extinction".
The plan going forward will see the ACP attempt to restructure, while a committee will be formed to determine not only how to safeguard the legacy of the institution, but also how best to use the proceeds from the sale of its Paddington gallery in 2014. Some of the options floated, unless a major donor steps forward, include the establishment of photography prize, a partnership with a state institution, or a scholarship program to support studies in photography. The outcome of discussions is expected in mid-2021.
The Australian Centre for Photography (ACP) is the leading institution in Australia dedicated to the art of photography and lens-based media. Since 1974, the ACP has been a creative force in the cultural life of Australia, presenting the work of our most dynamic and diverse artists. The ACP presented the first major retrospectives of photographs by Max Dupain, Olive Cotton, and Mervyn Bishop as well as the early exhibitions of works by Bill Henson, William Yang, Tracey Moffatt, and Trent Parke.
The ACP holds at its core the vital contribution of artists and photographers in distilling and reflecting upon society, displaying a pluralism of perspectives and a breadth of artistic practice. Their exhibitions, education, and community programs provide opportunities for audiences and peers to engage in a dynamic conversation about the significance of images, both past and present, within contemporary culture.
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