Blogs

Slow strangulation for the Australia Council?

Post by , November 28th, 2015

Mitch Fifield, the new Arts Minister, visited a very political meeting of arts industry leaders. It was called by #Freethearts to continue opposition to recently fired Arts Minister Senator George Brandis’s transfer of Australia Council funds to the Ministry.Fifield was warm, conciliatory, even for a few moments, frank in his criticism of Brandis’s management. By… continue reading »


How we will rule the world #2: an advocacy agenda

Post by , September 17th, 2015

So the idea is that arts advocacy would look for principles upon which most artists agree. Some of the hot issues in politics would be based around these principles. Take up a hot issue and enter the fray with the best arguments and tactics our ingenious sector can come up with. Also invite reciprocal support… continue reading »


Jig’s Up – September 2015

Post by , August 30th, 2015

Jarryd James the next big thing in pop music? That’s what the reviewer on music.mic has written after James’s New York live debut. James has already had great success in the Australian charts. The music.mic headline says “The Producers Who Brought Us Lorde Have Found the Next Great Pop Star.” Each song demonstrates a deep… continue reading »


How we will rule the world: a strategy for arts advocacy

Post by , August 22nd, 2015

Arts Minister George Brandis’s funding raid on the Australia Council will result in major damage to individual artists and smaller arts organisations. Faced with issues of survival, artists and arts organisations have spoken up and the ArtsPeak alliance has instigated a Senate Inquiry into the changes. The Inquiry is now engaged in public hearings around… continue reading »


Jig’s Up – August 2015

Post by , August 7th, 2015

Commenting on the by now familiar ineffectuality of the NAPLAN regime in lifting maths and reading scores, a letter writer quotes a Russian educator: “You can’t fatten a pig by weighing it.” -0- Theatre director, dramaturg, commentator Julian Meyrick writes this in an article published in The Conversation: Respecting the past doesn’t diminish the present…. continue reading »


Jig’s Up – July 2015

Post by , July 22nd, 2015

The Australian World Orchestra will perform at the very end of July in Sydney (two concerts) and Melbourne (one). If you are into orchestral music, this is a thrilling orchestra made up of Australian musicians come home from around the world and around the country. It will be conducted by Simon Rattle, himself a thrill…. continue reading »


Jig’s Up – June 2015

Post by , June 10th, 2015

Arts Minister Brandis has taken $105m from the Australia Council funds and transferred it to his own Department where he can dictate its use. He says the Minister is the democratically elected member officially in charge of arts funding but since he cannot instruct the Australia Council who to fund, he has no control but… continue reading »


The Brandis Heist

Post by , June 2nd, 2015

At budget time, Arts Minister Senator George Brandis seemed unwilling or unable to describe the purpose of taking $104.8 million from the Australia Council budget and placing it in a new fund, the National Program for Excellence in the Arts (NPEA) in his own Department. However, on May 27, there was a Senate Estimates review… continue reading »


Scrutinising the Scrutineers: A Senate Boys’ Club

Post by , May 22nd, 2015

Politicians may not instruct the Australia Council on its grant-making. It is protected by its legislation, giving “arm’s length” independence from government and political favours or prejudice towards individual applicants for funding. How would things be, without that protection? The question is especially relevant as Arts Minister George Brandis takes funds from the Australia Council… continue reading »


Jig’s Up – May 2015

Post by , May 2nd, 2015

Melbourne’s Vance Joy is the winner of the Grand Prize at the US-based International Songwriting Competition for 2015. The announcement of the win says that “In the history of ISC, no other entrant has ever garnered perfect scores from the judges until the 2015 Grand Prize winner, Vance Joy, for his song Riptide… the song… continue reading »


Singing for the Germans

Post by , April 22nd, 2015

Nicole, Russell, Cate, Naomi, Baz… you don’t even need to be given their surnames to know exactly whom we are talking about. The international world of film is jammed with Australian actors and directors and anyone with a pulse knows many names. Because they are more than names: we can see them, here, easily, in… continue reading »


Jig’s Up – April 2015

Post by , April 6th, 2015

A very inventive production of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice at the Art Gallery of NSW carried a few surprises. Jig’s was a bit disorientated for the first couple of scenes, eventually realising that Orpheus and Euridice were a same-sex couple. The vision was complete: the other principals were women and the only (two) male supernumeraries… continue reading »


Jig’s Up – March 2015

Post by , March 4th, 2015

Ruminations and Revelations Unsurprisingly, when Bukhchuluun Ganburged got a little bit used to Australia, he saw that things might work out better if he were known as Bukhu. He has just been awarded one of the 40 citizenship places reserved annually for artists of very high distinction. Welcome, Bukhu! Bukhu is a virtuosic throat singer… continue reading »


Jig’s Up – February 2015

Post by , February 3rd, 2015

This is the cradle to the grave edition of Jig’s Up. -0- Tony Abbott, in his 2014 Ministerial reshuffle, removed childcare from the Education portfolio and placed it in Social Services under its new Minister, Scott Morrison. What are the messages here? Childcare is a form of welfare, not a part of education during the… continue reading »


Jig’s Up – December 2014

Post by , December 6th, 2014

So the ABC cuts have sliced and diced music. To handle the cuts, the management could have called for voluntary redundancies. But it didn’t. The cuts have been applied to particular program areas. That suggests a program strategy. In music, Triple J is untouched. RN and Classic FM are strongly affected. The number of live… continue reading »


Radio for the 1890s

Post by , November 8th, 2014

ABC Managing Director Mark Scott, facing funding cuts, intends to reconceive aspects of the ABC to ensure a successful future. Perhaps some things will be cut, others strengthened. Classic FM is at risk. Why not get in front of the game by reconceiving Classic FM too? Almost all of the classical music heard broadcast or… continue reading »


An Audience with the Minister for the Audience

Post by , November 2nd, 2014

A couple of weeks ago, Arts Minister George Brandis carried his crusade on behalf of the audience into the regions. In an ABC interview with Michael Cathcart, Senator Brandis called for Australian artists and arts organisations to have a greater regard to popular taste and listen to their audiences. (Reported by Ben Neutze in Crikey… continue reading »


Jig’s Up – November 2014

Post by , November 1st, 2014

Jig’s just saw the most marvellous documentary. You remember Mrs Carey’s Concert? This is just as moving and more inclusive. It’s called Outback Choir and it’s about Michelle Leonard and the annual Moorambilla Festival in outback NSW. The doco shows Michelle travelling to outback towns across this vast region to give music workshops and to… continue reading »


Z for Arts. Pyne’s review of the Australian arts curriculum

Post by , October 22nd, 2014

Christopher Pyne as Minister for Education decided to review the new national school curriculum instigated by the Labor Government. The review included the Arts curriculum. I decided to take a look. Let’s see – where is the Arts section? Uhuh. It comes last in the sequence in which subjects are listed. It’s a little like… continue reading »


Melba hits high Gee!

Post by , October 7th, 2014

Maria Vandamme, director of Melba Foundation/Melba Recordings, has written a very high-pitched defence of her millions of dollars of grants from Commonwealth Ministers. So what’s to defend? Wouldn’t we all like to be in her happy position? The upset started with a piece by Ben Eltham in ArtsHub. It began “Arts Minister George Brandis approved… continue reading »


Think local, act global

Post by , September 18th, 2014

“Australia’s greatest artists are virtually unknown overseas because their work is ‘too strongly defined by place’, according to Edmund Capon,” the retired Director of the Art Gallery of NSW (Sydney Morning Herald, September 11). Well, there’s a dilemma. Going back into the 1800s, artists have wanted to create distinctively Australian art. Government organisations have encouraged… continue reading »


“Opera Australia doesn’t need government funding.”

Post by , September 6th, 2014

On the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald, September 2: Opera Australia doesn’t need government funding. Arts. Page 18. On page 18, an interview with Lee Lewis, Artistic Director of the Griffin Theatre Company. She was listening to a conversation on ABC radio about cutting funding for the opera. [Does “cut” mean terminate or… continue reading »


To be good or to be famous?

Post by , August 27th, 2014

Thoughts on A Culturally Ambitious Nation, the new Australia Council Strategic Plan Let me state my prejudice. I am an art for art’s sake guy. For me, it is a concern that business, the market, marketing have so much taken over the public realm. A couple of decades ago, I heard a speaker at an… continue reading »


Our glorious leaders. They don’t lead and they can’t follow

Post by , August 13th, 2014

Really?!! All that was happening in my head when I was practising the flute? And I thought I was just breathing and blowing. And enjoying the tunes. Have you looked at that great animation on the Music Trust website? (Like where? OK, it’s under education research.) “How playing an instrument benefits your brain.” I’ve always… continue reading »


Sculthorpe, the great encourager

Post by , August 12th, 2014

Peter Sculthorpe has died. The stories are coming out. Accounts of his life and work and his importance to Australian music and culture are everywhere in the media. He set out to create an Australian musical voice and so far, is the composer to have most clearly achieved that. But it is interesting that despite… continue reading »


The Arts Minister: carrying what message to whom?

Post by , July 2nd, 2014

I have picked up the following item from Jig’s Up. In the Commonwealth budget, the government quarantined funding to the large companies, made big cuts to individual artists and small companies. Arts Minister George Brandis to The Australian On June 21: “Frankly I’m more interested in funding arts companies that cater to the great audiences… continue reading »


Rhythm Is It!

Post by , April 29th, 2014

In the Education section on The Music Trust website, there is mentioned a German film called Rhythm Is It! [1] This marvellous film documents a project hosted by the Berlin Philharmonic. It involves 250 kids mostly in their late teens, drawn from neighbourhood schools in Berlin. They are from every social class and many countries;… continue reading »


The Transformative Power of Music

Post by , April 1st, 2014

The Transformative Power of Music for Individuals and School Communities Mal Hewitt In December 1975 I was appointed as Head Teacher Administration, also with responsibility for the Music Faculty, to Ashcroft High School, a comprehensive co-educational school with 1,100 students, situated in the then rather notorious Green Valley public housing area in South-Western Sydney. 40%… continue reading »


Music education and who you are

Post by , March 4th, 2014

Well, we all think music education is important for kids, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this blog. In most cases, it’s because music is important for us, personally. It gets to us, deep down. Some music moves me down to my toenails. Makes me well up. Tells me, in a way, what is important. Other… continue reading »


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