Ballarat International Foto Biennale – Ministerial Response

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Original adjournment matter from Juliana Addison MP to Parliament –

My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Creative Industries, and the action that I seek is for the minister to visit the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, the most significant biennial photographic festival in Australia.

The original plan for the 2021 Ballarat International Foto Biennale was that it would run from 28 August to 24 October. Over 58 days visitors would enjoy 29 curated exhibitions featuring 260 artists at more than 100 venues. Public art would be on display throughout Ballarat from the main street to down laneways and in shop windows.

The 2021 biennale headline exhibition was a huge coup for Ballarat—to land the Linda McCartney: Retrospective exhibition. The retrospective has been curated by Paul McCartney and his daughters, Mary and Stella, and is being presented for the first time in Australia. Significantly, the exhibition can only be seen in Ballarat. The Linda McCartney exhibition features more than 200 extraordinary photographs, including images of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison, McCartney family shots and a series of prints from the McCartneys’ time in Australia between 1975 and 1993—wonderful images of Melbourne which have never been shown before.

However, as has been the case so often over the last 20 months, the challenges of the global pandemic prevented the crowds from coming to Ballarat from Melbourne, from interstate and internationally. It was so disappointing for so many. Fortunately the extraordinary Fiona Sweet, the creative director of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, was able to negotiate with the McCartney family for the Linda McCartney: Retrospective exhibition to be extended to 9 January 2022. This is wonderful news. This will allow so many people the opportunity to visit Ballarat to enjoy the 2021 Biennale. It is just the tonic we all need.

With more exhibitions and artists than ever before, the 2021 biennale is one not to be missed. I look forward to welcoming double-vaxxed Melburnian art lovers from this weekend and visitors from interstate and internationally. The 2021 biennale also boasts the Michael Gudinski exhibition in the basement of the Ballaarat Mechanics Institute, showcasing photos of some of the biggest artists signed to the Mushroom Records label. Another exhibition, In Translation, an exhibition of modern architectural photography, is in the Catobeen space at Ballarat’s wonderful $100 million GovHub and is certainly one to see.

I wish to take this opportunity to thank the minister for his ongoing support of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale and have no doubt the minister will thoroughly enjoy the 2021 Ballarat International Foto Biennale. I hope to welcome the Minister for Creative Industries to Ballarat very soon.


Response from the Hon. Danny Pearson, Minister for Creative Industries (21st Dec 2021) –

Thank you for the invitation to visit the 2021 Ballarat International Foto Biennale.

I was pleased to have had the wonderful opportunity recently to drop in to see the Linda McCartney: Retrospective exhibition as part of the Biennale and am grateful that you were able to join me along with Fiona Sweet who was then Artistic Director of the Biennale.

As Minister for the Creative Industries, it is so pleasing to see the Biennale organisers’ agility and ingenuity, mobilising to extend the festival through to January 2022 with a diverse offering of exhibitions and public events.

The Andrews Government was proud to support the BallaratInternational Foto Biennale with additional funding provided in 2020 which ensured the event could adapt to a COVID Safe environment, bringing fantastic photographic exhibitions to the regions for locals and visitors to enjoy. Our Government is also backing the Biennale securing its impressive home with an investment of $6.7 million to establish a National Centre for Photography in Ballarat.  This new Centre, along with the Ballarat Art Gallery and the Post Office Gallery, makes for a dynamic and creative precinct for the region.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Fiona Sweet and acknowledge her tremendous work and vision in establishing the National Centre for Photography and its very popular Biennale. And I commend you for your enthusiastic support and advocacy for the Biennale and the new Centre which will be a drawcard destination for generations to come.