There has been some negative comment circulating in regards to Melbourne Festivals listed ticket price for Taylor Mac. Mac is a performer or more-so true embodiment of queer reverence, with a career forged through the bars and night clubs of New York. A narrative many can relate to, but Mac has achieved the kind of international recognition for their tireless pursuit of creative expression and visibility, that most only dream of. Collaborator of prominent Melbourne theatre company, MKA and queer identifying performance artist Kerith Manderson-Galvin spoke with TAGG on the issue;
“I guess I just think there are already a lot of opportunities that queer people miss out on or are left out of.”- Continuing, Manderson-Galvin says “The festival website says it looks back on rebellions and revolutions- and I wonder what a financially inaccessible show offers us for revolution now, and what future we have to look forward to.”
There is a huge but not often discussed class divide within the GLBTIQ community, on one hand you have a select group of often white, cis gender males who have progressed through life to land in a moderate place of comfort. On the other end of the spectrum we have our trans brothers and sisters as example; who often still face difficulty and rejection from those both inside and out of our community. So it’s a grand gesture that speaks of more than the artistic integrity of Melbourne Festival that they bring to us the work of this artist. Not only as an opportunity for the GLBTIQ community to come together but also granting us a highly visible and public queer figure to be present at a time where topics such as marriage equality are still hotly contested.
Speaking with Richard Watts on 3RRR’s SmartArts yesterday Jonathan Holloway Melbourne Festival Director, responded to the issue by explaining.
“It is a work about inclusion that starts at 39 dollars with cheaper tickets discounted for people under 30 or in the industry for Taylor’s work. Of which you can see a one and half hour performance, a whistle stop tour for about forty bucks. Which i think is fairly good for a Hamer Hall or Forum Show.”
“Yes if you then want to see the full 24 hour marathon of which there are a 850 seats, the very top ticket price is 699 dollars. It is 150 performers and 50 crew members working for two weeks just on this piece one piece of work. And nobody is doing it for nothing, we pay absolutely everyone who is involved.”
“Once you start saying 200 people, of which 33 of them are flying in from New York. Doing something and telling a story that will be incredible; you get to the point where actually the level of subsidy that goes on top of that is absolutely worth it. And when you just work out the economics, there was no way to do it without that top ticket price.”
“But for me the 100 something people that are from the community who are performing and who are involved, that’s where the inclusion also is, aside from the audience.”
So there are compelling arguments being put forward by both sides, but is enough being done, and what will the final response be from Melbourne’s QLBTIQ and arts communities? For Melbourne Festival, its perhaps a moment of opportunity for them to further cement their relations with these communities instead of ostracising individuals whom are already forced to exist on the margins.