Espionage Gallery and the Struggle For Survival.

Last Thursday (14th of November) I helped one of my favourite artist-run-initiatives in Adelaide, Espionage Gallery, launch its Pozible Campaign to fight the fickle fiscal system and stay open.

ImageThe past couple of years have been hard on Adelaide’s cultural scene, we have seen the closure of many venues that support us ‘young people’ do our ‘creative thing’ whether that be art, music, theater, or beer and bullshit.  The South Australian Government has recently introduced new liquor licensing laws that are hitting all manner of businesses hard, especially in the creative sector that is still struggling to bounce back from our (admittedly minor comparatively to some countries) GFC-inspired-recession. One of these factors is the price increases for a temporary liquor license to be able to sell drinks at a public event in your not-a-bar-space.  Espionage has a public gathering every two weeks or so, ranging from opening new visual art exhibitions, skilled workshops, chairty fundraisers, or webcast live DJ sessions. We need to run a bar at these events to help pay the increased rental costs, but the increased licensing costs then make this redundant.

SO! We’re asking for a little help to make some improvements to the gallery, start a shop, pay some rent, and generally spiffy the place up a bit so that when Fringe time comes, we’ll be super-amazing and everyone in Adelaide will buy ALL THE ART and ALL THE BEER and we wont have to close down EVER. The whole story can be found here;, as well as means to donate if you feel so inclined!

ImageThe director of the gallery, Josh Smith (pictured above with the irrepressible Gen Brandenburg), asked for my help to run the campaign from planning pricing to social media. Being so passionately passionate about my passions, I immediately agreed, and to date I am pleased to say that in three days we have managed to raise a whopping $4000 of our $7000 target, so its looking good. 🙂

ImageTo really hit the point home, I wrote a speech that I gave on opening night/launch party. I have transcribed the speech below for those who missed it!

“As some of you may know, I recently completed my BVA at UniSA.  Like many graduates fresh out of the ‘McDegree’ system, when I emerged from five years of study, I actually had no idea how to create a sustainable arts practice (despite what that system had tried to tell me). For a year or so I floated around working retail and hospitality jobs, gradually losing my passion and creative vision to bills, bars, and blatant apathy. But at some point I made a decision; it was either make art or be completely dead inside (and yes, it was THAT melodramatic!), and though dimmed what was left of my arty spark began to blaze.
The dream was always to run my own an arts venue.
The chance came through Renew Adelaide, and I sat down and took a long hard look at the logistics of running a space without solid financial planning and a dedicated workforce. My courage faced off against my skill set at the time, and packed its bags- gone.

Its actually pretty hard to create an artists-run-initiative in Adelaide. It takes a near super-human ability to maneuver your way around nonsensical building codes, prohibitive liquor licensing laws, marketing plans, budgets, customer relations, demographics, governing bodies and funding surplus… And then you have to deal with THE ARTISTS!
Fortunately, under the staid surface of football, white-collars, and peak hour traffic to and from cathedrals dedicated to commercialism there is a hive of dedicated people passionate about supporting arts culture in this city.  They consistently push against the concept that grey concrete walls and silence after midnight is an ideal living space (of course we here in this room know its not!).

Josh Smith is one of those people. Trough his tireless efforts running this space, hundreds of people have been inspired to find and explore their creative spark.  Artists that would otherwise be stuck at a counter making endless coffees or sticker-pricing tags forever have been supported and encouraged to do what they love, and give others colour and life in their day. He has built a cohesive community that at its core lies a little family that come together to help, to gossip, to laugh, to play, to create, and to rehabilitate each other in the name of Art. We’ve been thriving up here in this hot white room, and now its time to return the favour.

Adelaide’s a tricky beast, with funding fashions ebbing and flowing between trams, stadiums, pop-up co-working hubs, and car park redevelopments, but Art is forever, and artists will not rest until they have an outlet for their passions. We need spaces like this one to survive, therefore we have to hep them survive. So push the button, get a drink, buy An Art, create life, love what you do… and our Espionage family will love YOU!”

ImageIf I’ve convinced you with these words (or even if you love local artists and are looking for a unique new thing to hang on your wall) head to and throw some coins at us.  With your help we can change this city, one boring wall at a time!

*note; all photos credit of the awesome Alex Kwong from happy618, check out more from the night here!