I can’t quite articulate exactly how much I want to see the Victorian Liberals hurled bodily into a swampy, fetid morass where they are set upon and devoured in a berserk frenzy by a herd of wild, blood-crazed boars. Such a circus I would cheer, and imagine a pre-feeding promenade in which they are lanced with banderillas and generally tormented, though I imagine the sport these spineless cretins might provide would show a profoundly unsatisfying lack of entertainment.
It is this spurious proclamation once again as arts being elitist and not ‘of and for the people’ that is the Liberals platform for the state’s arts funding. It is absolutely despicable and purposefully offensive. The Liberals arts platform, which specifically and intentionally snubs any dialogue with actual artists in the state can be reduced to this: regional eisteddfods good, Melbourne arts bad. This, we are supposed to believe will return Victoria to the forefront of arts excellence.
A couple of days ago, William Gibson, who remains one of the foundations of my, I guess you could say, imagined utopian world view, quoted another author whom I haven’t read. Zadie Smith in an interview on KCRW said this about the role of readers:
But the problem with readers, the idea we’re given of reading is that the model of a reader is the person watching a film, or watching television. So the greatest principle is, “I should sit here and I should be entertained.” And the more classical model, which has been completely taken away, is the idea of a reader as an amateur musician. An amateur musician who sits at the piano, has a piece of music, which is the work, made by somebody they don’t know, who they probably couldn’t comprehend entirely, and they have to use their skills to play this piece of music. The greater the skill, the greater the gift that you give the artist and that the artist gives you. That’s the incredibly unfashionable idea of reading. And yet when you practice reading, and you work at a text, it can only give you what you put into it. It’s an old moral, but it’s completely true.
Contrast this, in which the audience is afforded an intelligence, sophistication, and active engagement and appreciation of a work with the Liberal Party policy in which as dumb fodder for sub-literate trolls, a work of art is entertainment to be passively consumed, and in which any qualities from the preceding millenniums, the transcendental capacity of art to shape and elevate our world, are annulled and replaced by a policy to restore accountability to arts spending.
Battleground hinges on high-brow versus popular
Eisteddfods are the big winners in the Liberal Party’s election arts policy announced yesterday.
The shadow arts spokeswoman, Andrea Coote, says a Liberal government would allocate an extra $5.32 million over four years to eisteddfods, especially in regional Victoria.
Coote says the policy will be revenue neutral, with increased spending offset by cuts of $4.25 million a year to the Australian Centre for the Moving Image and to Melbourne festivals, especially October’s international arts festival.
“The key to the policy is to restore accountability to arts spending,” she says. “This will include an overhaul of the operations of Arts Victoria.”
Other promises include:
· The National Gallery of Victoria to get an extra $1 million a year to enable it to reopen seven days a week at St Kilda Road and Federation Square.
· Film Victoria to get an extra $2 million over four years.
· Opera Victoria promised another $2 million over four years.
· Orchestra Victoria to get $1.1 million over four years to expand regional touring.
· Melbourne International Film Festival to get an extra $400,000 over four years.
The low-key policy compares with Labor’s promises to spend $9 million on a Centre for Books and Ideas in the State Library and to allocate $2.4 million to the film festival to commission films, expand its country roadshow and start an annual distribution “marketplace”. It also promised Victoria’s 28 eisteddfods an extra $400,000 in funding.
But while the Liberals are threatening to overhaul ACMI, even considering shifting it from Federation Square, the Government is promising $5.8 million to establish a permanent exhibition to reflect on a century of visual entertainment.
But Coote says ACMI “has become an over-subsidised, taxpayer-funded financial black hole”. She says it received $23 million in state grants this financial year and spends $9 million in wages and $4 million in rent, while raising only $2.1 million in revenue.
She wants to appoint a commercial board of management and implement an efficiency program.
Coote accuses the Government of funding “elitist Melbourne-centric festivals that attract a limited audience”. But the arts minister, Mary Delahunty, describes the Opposition’s policy as “flimsy and flawed”, jeopardising festivals and arts events in suburban Melbourne and the regions.
Libs promise ‘grass roots’ arts for Victoria
The Victorian Liberal Party has released its arts plan for the state in the lead up to this weekend’s election.
Shadow Minister for Arts Andrea Coote announced the plan yesterday, promising that a Liberal Government would “return Victoria to the forefront of arts excellence”.
“The arts are an opportunity for social cohesion, education, cultural learning and enjoyment,” said Ms Coote. “Yet under Labor one of our finest examples of this, the National Gallery of Victoria, has been closed one day a week. Country Victoria also feels disconnected under Labor’s lop-sided metropolitan-biased policies.”
“A Liberal Government will ensure the arts for all Victorians, and will particularly focus on grass roots in Arts Victoria.”
The Liberal charter includes the provision of $5.32 million to fund all eisteddfods in Victoria; $1 million each year to the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) to ensure seven-days-a-week operation; an extra $2 million for Film Victoria “to establish it as Australia’s pre-eminent producer of local content film and drama”; an additional $400,000 over four years to support the Melbourne International Film Festival; $1.1 million for Orchestra Victoria to expand its country touring program; and $200,000 for Craft Victoria “to promote new talent and provide greater exhibiting opportunities”. The policy also outlines support for a ‘Visions Victoria’ program that would facilitate the touring of materials from major Victorian cultural institutions around the state, and an additional $2 million in funding for a Victorian-based opera company.
Mrs Coote said the policy would be funded with savings from the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), and ‘Melbourne-focused’ festivals.
“The Bracks Government currently funds 30 major festivals and numerous smaller ones,” she said. “The bulk of funding for these major festivals is focussed on delivering festivals in Melbourne. The Liberal Party believes this funding should be shared with the wider community, particularly country Victoria, whether it is through festivals or other artistic programmes.”
“Furthermore, ACMI has become an over-subsidised, taxpayer funded financial black hole with no turn-around on the horizon. The Liberal Party believes ACMI can achieve more and will ensure that any grants given to ACMI are used to raise patronage and profitability.”
“This policy is designed to return the high level of artistic talent, productions, materials and opportunities in the Arts to Victoria.”