Hand outs

David Marr is one of Australia’s finest journalists. He delivered the 2005 Philip Parsons Memorial Lecture yesterday on the subject, “Theatre Under [John] Howard:”

“Expensive as they are, the arts need more money – not for the sake of the companies, certainly not for the bureaucrats, and not only for the sake of the artists. For our sake. To release this country’s imagination by mining the creativity that’s there, waiting to be discovered. In its private soul searching late last year, the Australia Council gave a figure that would transform the arts in this country: another $40 million a year. It’s peanuts. It’s a few miles of freeway. But there’s no limit to where it could take us all.”

Marr catalogues the curse of both Liberal and Labor governments wanting art that often reinforces, rather than challenges, the status quo. The problem with government funding is that, by definition, it will be affected by the political winds of the day. Personally, I believe in the concept of taxpayer fund work to shape, mould and provoke the wider community. True market fundamentalists argue that if the private sector can’t fund something, it’s clearly not worth doing. Wrong. We pay taxes because we want – or certainly I do – governments to support work that both confirms and challenges our own beliefs. That’s why we live in a community with people, rather than simply individuals desperate to find the next dollar.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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