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Brisbane arts companies explore new options for future growth with ABIF

Business innovation in the arts sector is on the rise as two Brisbane–based arts companies explore new revenue streams and broaden their business models with support from the Arts Business Innovation Fund (ABIF).

Metro Arts will upgrade its building to realise new entertainment opportunities, while Anywhere Theatre Festival will introduce an app that matches producers with rehearsal and performance spaces.

Metro Arts, which owns a building in the heart of Brisbane, will add laneway and popup entertainment opportunities to attract designers and other businesses that are keen to position their work in a venue that understands and supports artists.

Metro Arts Chairman John Dunleavy said, "We're proud to bring this distinctive entertainment destination to Brisbane thanks to support from ABIF. 

"This is an exciting development for the Metro Arts building, which really buzzes when we combine experiential activities. Initiatives such as night markets, distinctive contemporary art and cinema experiences will help attract new audiences," Mr Dunleavy said.

 Anywhere Theatre Festival will create the Pocket Producer online and mobile app, a unique logistics solution for producers of events in any location. Pocket Producer would appeal to producers, festivals, schools and local government markets and would create a new subscription based income stream for Anywhere Theatre Festival.

“Without the ABIF investment, this idea would have remained on our whiteboard wish list. Instead, we have a chance to be ambitious with a project we feel could be a real disrupter in how performances are presented in Brisbane, regional Queensland and far beyond,” said Anywhere Theatre Festival Cofounder Alex McTavish.

“The opportunities ABIF provides for the Queensland arts sector is really huge and I don’t think we’ve all quite grasped it yet,” added Paul Osuch, Cofounder of Anywhere Theatre Festival. “Smallish arts organisations like us can pitch an idea that we’d normally have to leave to a bigger organisation or wait for someone outside the sector to implement when we know we are in the best position to deliver it and make it work."

 ABIF combines public and private investment with Queensland Government funding matched by the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation.

 Arts Queensland will invest $50 000 in Metro Arts and $16 000 in Anywhere Theatre Festival through ABIF, with matched loan funding from the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation for both companies.

 Since ABIF’s inception in 2015, it has already made a difference to three other arts organisations with 4MBS expanding its Silver Memories nostalgic radio service for seniors, Umbrella Studios providing online retail opportunities for artists in the Townsville region, and Brisbane’s Institute for Modern Art using its ABIF investment to grow a future generation of art collectors as part of a strategic fundraising initiative.

 Arts Queensland works with a consortium comprising Foresters Community Finance, Positive Solutions and QUT Creative Enterprise Australia to manage the fund.  ABIF is an equal combination of a zero interest loan and Queensland Government funding. Successful applicants are required to match the investment with their own funding. The repaid loans are then re-invested in the ABIF funding pool.

Photo credit: Gin and Sin Jazz Salon at Australia Modern Carina House, 2016 Anywhere Theatre Festival. Photo: Geoff Lawrence. Courtesy: Anywhere Theatre Festival.