It’s all a bit like Guangzhou in summer really, a dirty jaundiced pall hanging over the city, the slight breeze wafting foul stenches, each end of the street losing focus into a smokey mist and a baking heat pressing the life out. The only thing missing is the heavy blanket of humidity endlessly rotting the city back into the river delta. The difference is in Guangzhou it’s just a mix of tropical haze and unrelenting pollution, while in Melbourne it’s the detritus of bushfires gutting the Alpine National Park.
A couple of days ago I wrote about the new Small Arts Sector Research Project the Arts Industry Australia (Victoria) are involved in and Deloitte who are conducting the research. I missed the meeting this morning, so I can’t say much about that, but they have announced a survey as a part of the project to conduct research into the size and nature of the state’s arts sector, with a particular focus on small unfunded organisations.
As much as I want to be really supportive of any projects that could benefit the eviscerated state of small arts groups in Melbourne and Victoria, there is a lurking nemesis in me who remains unimpressed and can’t fathom why research is again being conducted. Australia Council has a junkies habit for blowing large wads of money on reports; when I was at VCA the same thing seemed to be occurring, and now this, in which I am trying to think happy thoughts but reading the first question of the survey, I went “meh…”
Is your organisation’s average revenue from all sources more than $3 million annually? If your organisation has been around for less than 1 year, please answer based the projected annual revenue.
Look, I might be a bit slow, but “based the projected annual revenue” I have this niggly suspicion isn’t well-formed English, and possibly missing an “on”, but doilooklikeliknow?. Perhaps it’s just my irrational hatred of apostrophe-death in “your” for “you’re” that is spurring my language fascism, but if you’re getting government funding at least make the sentence legible, especially if the survey is specifically aiming at organisations where English isn’t a first language.
“The results of this study will inform future policy and funding decisions. So the (questionnaire) represents a golden opportunity for small arts organisations to have a say.”
I was about to go through some of the questions wherein providing a meaningful answer is precluded by the suppositions of the survey itself, but realised I was about to get waspish, and really without daily chocolate I do get a bit psychotic. So, please go and fill out the survey now. It is open for the ridiculously short time of one week from today, so unless you have no life like myself and hoover up announcements in a facile pretense of purpose you probably won’t hear about it until some time mid-2000-and-x when the results get published and wtf?!? when did they do this survey? is your considered response.
To save everyone time though I have done my own esteemed and peer-assessed research and can give the results forthwith: The answer to the question of “the issues facing small arts communities” is money. Money money money money. Can I say it any more clearer? We need more money! Unless the results of these surveys cause vast tides of currency to flow into art – not edifices or administration but new art made by artists – … arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic springs to mind. Must … have … money … …
An anecdote: The only time I have ever been in a situation making dance that could not be solved by throwing more money at it was funnily enough in China, where at 6:1 exchange rate, I could throw quite considerable piles of Chairman Mao’s mug at any impediment I might encounter. I have never had that giddy experience in Australia.
Arts Industry Council (Victoria)
– the independent voice for the arts
NOVEMBER NETWORKING MEETING
Small Arts Sector Research Project
Please distribute through your networks!!
You are invited to an industry networking meeting for a briefing on the Small Arts Sector Research Project.
Briefing by project staff from Deloittes, commissioned by Arts Victoria
10am – 12 noon, Friday, 1st December
Hoopla! Room, Malthouse Theatre,
Sturt Street, SOUTHBANK
PLEASE RSVP TO THIS EMAIL
AIC(V) has been pushing for research into the small arts sector for many years and now Arts Victoria has commissioned Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu to conduct research into the small arts sector, focussing on small organisations. Small arts organisations play a critical role in the cultural vitality of Victoria.
Learn more about the project
Does the research include me?
Learn how you can contribute to this research
Time is of the essence, as the research is being conducted now – to be finalised BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR
AIC(V) are hoping that this research will provide key information about the size and nature of small arts organisations and other organisations with arts activity across the state.
“This research aims to determine the scale of the entire small arts sector, not just the funded sector, and to better understand the characteristics of small arts organisations across Victoria including the extent of their activity, the people involved, and their contribution to the state.
The results of this study will inform future policy and funding decisions. So the research represents a golden opportunity for small arts organisations to have a say.
The study’s success hinges on the participation of all small arts organisations in Victoria and involves the completion of a basic questionnaire by small arts organisations.
The research aims to cover the full spectrum of Small Arts organisations across all art forms, those who currently receive Government support, those who operate independently and those who may need support in the future. To plan for the future we need to have a clear understanding of the issues facing small arts communities.”
On behalf of the Board, AIC(V)
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.
A trip to Lerderderg Gorge yesterday for a leisurely afternoon of hiking along the Tunnel trail, a hacked laceration through a low granite saddle topped with a century of dry forest detritus, a small, nicked gash as if some giant hand smashed a too soft blade on the up-fold between two streams, the vertically layered stone fracturing only enough for the separate flows to mingle, in truth neatly and painfully cut by the hands of miners with ill-suited tools and lascivious gold-speckled craving.
Following a ripping friday night of Pastis and champagne, I spent the weekend with Bonnie and Paul south at Cape Patterson and in Nar Nar Goon, eating fish and chips, walking on the beach, driving in the rain, more eating and drinking till late, walking through Bunyip State Forest for an afternoon, avoiding the rolling thunderstorm across a late lunch, and more driving in the heavy night rain.
The long weekend meant a trip to the Grampians with the Vic Climbing Club for three days of long, multi-pitch trad climbing on the stunning yellow and orange sandstone of Mt Rosea, about 20 minutes drive from Halls Gap. A hideously early start got us there on Saturday in time for a romp up Diane (120m, grade 18, 3 stars) on one of the busiest club trips I’ve been on. The walls were swarming with climbers and every available ledge was home to another belayer.
The wall is a massive cliff on average 100 meters high, with some places topping out at 150 meters, and so long each end is like another country. The altitude is also fairly high, and changes from typical Australian bush at the bottom to more wind-swept alpine scrub on top. The climbing was awesome. Lots of amazing crack lines, sculpted features, beautifully positive holds all on the cleanest sandstone. Diane was a trip. It’s been a while since I did any outdoor climbing, even though I’ve been at Jiulong the past two weeks, it’s not since before I left that I’ve been climbing regularly. So four pitches of sometimes really gymnastic moves and excellent exposure reminded me how unfit I am right now. A night in the camp, with chocolate, wine, beer, good food, and people I haven’t seen for months was the perfect end to the day.
Sunday started with a run up Knick Knack, a 33 meter grade 19 crack in three parts, the middle being a funky smooth left-leaning split in featureless rock, immediately after turning into a disturbing, slightly overhung off-width. Getting suckered in by the deceptively helpful holds out left only served to dig a big hole as the only way to do it was straight up the crack.
Come late morning, the sun moving around and the southern-facing parts of the wall moving into shade, it was time to head up Debutante, 117 meters, grade 15, five pitches and worth every bit of its three stars. This is one of the finest climbs I’ve ever done, despite my whining before the insanely exposed traverse at the end of the fourth pitch, where following a corner crack takes you out as the face begins its massive overhanging ascent to the top.
Absolutely genius climbing and made all the better by looking straight down during the traverse. We stopped for a small lunch at the start of the third pitch with the sky iridescently blue and the sun saturating the wall with colour. We should have waited till we got to the start of the next pitch, where the ledge was big enough to build a house on, or a small shed. We topped out as the sun was setting, unlike the previous day completely alone.
I have big issues with crack climbing. Mainly because I don’t really know how to do it, so there’s lots of grovelling instead of technique, and lots of pain of the wrong kind, the pain of skin parting from my hands and arms. So today we – the Victorian Climbing Club – went to Eastern Peak, about 15 minutes north of Ballarat. It’s on private land, and doesn’t get much action, but the owner is pretty cool and likes to do a bit of climbing himself. Imagine having that for your backyard. The rock is granite, and mostly very good, ranging from smooth and grippy to large crystals eroded to super-positive edges and cracks. And cracks.
The day was either misty, windy, drizzling or just grey, but it held together enough for about 15 of us to bang our way up three of the more notable areas, mostly slabs but for me there was an idiotic desire to do the one overhung crack. Overhung arm-swallowing skin-eating knee-jamming ridiculer of non-crack climbers, only 10 moves at the most, but packed with feel-pathetic goodness, and the thank-god jug at the top just rubs it all in.
So I haven’t climbed much lately, even bouldered, but still felt pretty good on everything else. It reminded me why I do it, it’s a head-game I play with myself. In two weeks we go to the Grampians for some harder stuff. I think I better find more time to boulder during the week.