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Show must go on despite Sellars' resignation
The Australia Council has called on audiences to continue to support the Adelaide Festival following the shock resignation of artistic director Peter Sellars.

The chief executive officer of Australia's arts funding and advisory body, Jennifer Bott, said the council was confident the festival would be able to rise above recent setbacks.

"The achievements and reputation of the Adelaide Festival over 40 years are not destroyed by 18 months of controversy," she said.

Ms Bott said that she hoped the Adelaide and wider arts community, including commentators, would step back from their current concerns and allow the festival organisers and participating artists a fair go to now make the event a success. "Those in our community who value the arts need to show that they can now pull together and support the new Artistic Director Sue Nattrass and her team.

"I acknowledge people’s concerns about the direction of the festival program, the impact of the loss of an Artistic Director so close to the event and other issues in recent months," Ms Bott said. "But Council members and I are equally concerned that groundbreaking and contemporary Australian programming in festivals is not seen in the future as too high risk as a result of the Adelaide Festival experience."

Ms Bott said arts festivals were vital vehicles for building audiences for the arts and for the development of new work and innovative performances. She said the Australia Council had contributed around $500,000 to various events and activities in the 2002 festival program, in addition to the support it provides to a number of participating Australian companies such as Bangarra Dance Theatre and the State Theatre Company of South Australia.

Peter Sellars is understood to have explained his resignation as artistic director of the 2002 festival in a telephone conversation with the board chairperson John Morphett.

Director-to-be Sue Nattrass is currently the CEO and herself a former artistic director (in 1997 and 1998). It is understood that the Festival, which runs from 1st to 10th March, will maintain the vision laid out for it by Peter Sellars.

Mon Nov 19 2001 (10:50:58 PM)