Farewell from Bus Projects, Bus Projects will be closing at the end of 2022
After an incredible 21 years of operation, it is with heavy hearts that we announce that Bus Projects will be closing at the end of 2022. The Bus Projects Board has not made this decision lightly and comes after the significant loss of multi-year funding. We have funding support to deliver our 2022 artistic program, which will conclude on December 11 2022.
We are also announcing that Co-Directors Nina Mulhall and Jacina Leong will be voluntarily stepping down from their roles on July 8 2022. Our final six months will be overseen by Nella Themelios, Samm Sutton and Yongping Ren, during which time we will present the remainder of our 2022 program—an ambitious showcase of new work—and a final celebration of our time in the sector. More details will be announced in the coming weeks.
We are very proud of our legacy and contribution to the arts sector and to have had the privilege of working with and supporting the careers of so many talented artists, curators, and collectives. To our community, funding partners and supporters we extend our deepest gratitude. Bus Projects and the space we have created together for encounters with new art and discourse would not exist without your commitment to, and trust, in our organisation.
The decision to close comes after receiving the difficult news that we have been unsuccessful in renewing multi-year funding. This funding has underpinned our organisational stability for the last eight years and we could not have achieved what we have without this support.
Bus Projects has been prolific in generating creative programming and outcomes, leveraging funding investments to deliver so much to the sector, with so few resources. It is a testament to the talent and resilience of successive staff, Board and volunteers that the organisation has been able to survive for 21 years. However, there is an inherent fragility and precarity in small organisations like ours, and the loss of this key pillar of funding support has had a destabilising impact.
The Board said:
“Under the careful leadership and guidance of current Co-Directors Nina Mulhall and Jacina Leong, we have made concerted efforts as an organisation to adapt to this new, increasingly precarious landscape. However, without the stability of multi-year funding, we are no longer able to ethically sustain our operations. There is a limit to what a small, not-for-profit arts organisation can do with increasingly restricted funding—experimentation and imagining new models of organisational innovation and artistic programming need economic support to thrive.
We have overcome many challenges in our history as an organisation, but unfortunately this is one challenge that has proven to be too great. While we know that this will be deeply disappointing news for our community, we are committed to supporting artists to make and show new work right up until we close our doors.”
Nina and Jacina will be voluntarily stepping down from their positions on July 8. Our deepest thanks to Nina and Jacina, who over the past nine months, and in the face of such adversity, have worked tirelessly to maintain a stable space for artists to gather and work within.
During the next six months, the organisation will be managed by a team comprising current Board Chair Nella Themelios, who will step into the role of interim Director & Board Chair, and Samm Sutton and Yongping Ren, both long-term casual and volunteer members of the Bus Projects community, who will step into the roles of Program Coordinator and Program Assistant. We welcome Samm and Yongping to their new roles.
Bus Projects is part of an important history of artists collectivising to create spaces of agency within the broader art system. As one of the longest running artist-run initiatives (ARIs) in Australia, we have made a significant contribution to the vibrancy and diversity of Australia’s arts ecology.
Over the last 21 years, we have delivered a highly regarded and impactful program of exhibitions, community and public programs and advocated for artist-run initiatives. Between 2001 and 2022, we produced over 1500 artistic projects and supported over 2500 artists, curators and collectives to make and show new work.
In addition to our core exhibition program, we established the national ARI advocacy network All Conference, delivered community programs such as Concentric Curriculum, supported new writing through initiatives such as Island Island, and engaged with our international peers through exhibition exchanges.
In 2020, we achieved our long-held ambition to remove the inequitable economy of charging artists fees to exhibit, and embarked on a new strategic plan to keep confronting inequalities in the arts sector, such as a lack of diverse and First Nations artists in our programs and in the power structures of our organisation. During the pandemic we established Bus Radio (now Crawl Space Radio) and Bus TV, supporting artists to keep practising during a time of unprecedented uncertainty in the arts community.
Over the next few months we will announce our final exhibition programs and invite you to celebrate the work of an amazing group of artists.
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