Dick’s blog

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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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