Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010
Matilda Bawden, GBP Managing Director & mother of Adelaide Soprano Grace Bawden, today slammed Arts SA as being entirely out of touch with what it takes to support local independent artists to succeed in the international marketplace.

“Recording artists of Grace’s potential today don’t stand a chance of making it outside of the State, particularly in the Operatic, Classical or Crossover genre” Matilda said. “Without modest financial resources, they still rely on Lady Luck to get an even break.

“Gifted artist should not have to settle for being discovered through talent quests only to land themselves dud recording contracts with booby clauses. Sadly, this is what awaits those without the means to secure their careers any other way” she said.

Since first applying for, and inquiring about, suitable grants through the South Australian Youth Arts Board (SAYAB) and Arts SA, over three years ago, at age 14, Grace was rejected by SAYAB for a film clip project on the grounds that the Board:
· Could not see how a film clip would help her career path - despite recording her demo with Australia’s foremost Sony-contracted Producer, Audius Mtawirira;
· Expressed concern that they “could not hear Grace’s voice through the application” – despite the Board never having interviewed Grace; and,
· Expressed concern that there was a “firm hand setting the agenda” - despite Grace being a minor whose career was carefully being Managed by a parent and two other company Directors.

Ironically, the letter of rejection came a week after Entertainment Editor, Richard Wilkins, invited Grace to perform live on air on the Channel 9, Today Show. In another twist of irony, within months of the SAYAB rejection letter, whilst busking in Rundle Mall, former Arts SA CEO, Greg Mackie, promptly emailed Grace inviting her to apply for an Arts SA grant, after he had been “stopped in his tracks” by her talent.

Two years on, Grace has never clearly and unambiguously qualified to apply for any grants offered through Arts SA, despite her Indigenous background.

In the past two years, Grace had been offered contracts by two major record labels and, this year, Grace has been presented with the opportunity of travelling to the US to record with multi-award winning Writer/ Producer, Keith Thomas (Charlotte Church, Amy Grant) – a project that has been almost 4 years in the making.

“As an independent artist, without Government or private funding, the cost of recording is preclusive to most people, with the fee of US$15,000 per track” Matilda said, “But how many artists ever get such an invitation or opportunity, from this country, much less from this State?”.
To qualify for Arts SA Grants, restrictions on Grace’s projects have included that she:

· Cannot do covers, only original material - despite major, award-winning Producers introducing new/ emerging, indie artists into the Australian marketplace using covers because original tracks are often 3-4 times more expensive to produce;
· Cannot seek to make a profit - despite the fact that no major label would touch a artist if they could not prove commercial viability; and,
· Are limited by a cap of up to $5,000 (when recording projects have required far in excess of $50,000+).

Matilda said “It was easier forming a company and finding private investors that exceeded the amount we needed than applying for the smallest of grants by the time the application process was completed; which included: studying a 30-page Funding Handbook; completing a 12+ page Application Form; enclosing demos CDs &/or DVD’s; Photographs; Bio’s; Budget breakdowns; supporting References; and, Project Descriptions – and then submitting them in multiples of ten!”. The sheer absurdity of the process renders it barely viable for anyone to bother jumping through so many fire-hoops.

This year, prima facie, Grace again fails to meet any of the criteria for Arts SA Grants which might help meet the expenses. The Indigenous Grants are far too small to bother with. This round Grace is told that:
· She may be too “high profile” to qualify, as she is no longer regarded as “an emerging artist” for the Indigenous Grants
· She is too young and not sufficiently “established” for the Fellowship Grant
· She wont qualify for the substantial Triennial Grant, set aside for Theatre or Group projects
· She won’t likely receive most of what she requires for the US$45,000 opportunity as this is a significant chunk of the total pool from which other projects would be funded.

“Without significant financial input, for all her extraordinary accomplishments to date, Grace can still end up busking or flipping burgers at McDonalds – that’s a cold hard reality in this industry. The State is saturated with talented artists still waiting tables after graduating from the Conservatorium probably because they cant afford the critical start-up tools they need (e.g. Demos, film clip, high resolution stylized photos, websites, EPK’s, etc…). Few graduates can afford these expenses by the time they have incurred their HECS debt and even fewer have an extended network of family and friends to help launch their careers through advice and in-kind support.

“The Grants available appear to be largely exclusive and discretionary and one can waste a vast amount of time, energy and resources searching aimlessly for a pool of funding that is either non-descript or misleading. Who are this State’s Arts policy experts who determine the rules and how many great careers have they helped shape and advance? I’d like to employ them as GBP’s consultants!” Matilda said.

Contact Profile

Grace Bawden Promotions Pty Ltd

Described as one of Australia’s greatest operatic discoveries, Grace Bawden's voice has already been likened to a Stradivarius by some of Australia's best vocal experts. Grace’s unique vocal talents are an unearthly, powerful and moving marvel, whose voice lingers in the memory and touches the heart.

At the age of 15, Grace was a Judge's Choice Grand Finalist on Australia's Got Talent 2008. Her mature, operatic voice can soar from highs to lows across over four octaves. With a vocal resonance that will send shivers down your back, her vast vocal ability spans across all genres of music, from sacred arias, traditional and musical theatre to contemporary & jazz.

Despite offer of a contract by a major Australian label, in September 2009, Grace launched her debut album "Gifts of Grace" independently. Soon after, Grace signed a 3 year license deal with EMI/ Gold Typhoon in Taiwan, China and Hong Kong. Grace’s singles and album have been hitting various global charts, including: Broadjam and ReverbNation Top 10 Classical, Classical-Contemporary and Australian charts; Classical Crossover UK charts {Editor’s Top 10}; as well, as EzPeer and KKBox charts in Taiwan, where both her single and album have ranked at #1 and #2 spots throughout December.

At age 14, Grace was Guest Soloist at the 2006, Adelaide City Council/ The Advertiser Carols by Candlelight, where she wowed an audience of about 30,000.

In February 2007, Grace had co-written two songs and recorded her Showcase tracks with multi-award winning Producer/ Songwriter, Audius Mtawirira, who has worked with Delta Goodrem, Guy Sebastian, Paulini, Jess Mauboy and many others. Grace co-wrote "Always with My Love" with well known composer/ songwriter Barbara Griffin and her original songs had remained in the Broadjam Top 10 Charts for almost a year {including Classical-Contemporary and Australian}.

By July 2007, Grace was invited to perform live on The Today Show (Channel 9), with rave reviews from Richard Wilkins. Soon after, Grace won South Australian Junior Entertainer of the Year 2007. After several months busking in Adelaide's Rundle Mall, Grace's successes continued with a further invitation to sing live on Radio 5AA by invitation of Australian Idol Judge, Mark Holden, which sparked a flurry of investor interest to help raise $50,000. She reached $80,000 within months, with $200,000 raised to its completion. 

GBP is continuing the seek investor support for the second album project due to commence in late 2010, with recordings to be Produced in the US by multi-award winning Writer/ Producer, Keith Thomas.
Matilda Bawden
P: 0412 836 685
M: 0412 836 685
W: www.gracebawden.com


investors, funding, arts, opera


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