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.”


Theatre director, dramaturg, commentator Julian Meyrick writes this in an article published in The Conversation:

Julian MeyrickRespecting the past doesn’t diminish the present. It doesn’t undermine “the new”; that’s just the spillover from a thousand marketing campaigns flogging useless crap where “newness” is the only saleable feature. In art, innovation is nothing without tradition, and vice-versa. [Theatre directing in Australia – some notes from the wings]

Minister Brandis, who would make canon-fodder of living artists, please ingest, reflect (would that be navel-gazing?), and take your ant-acid.


Sydney is the only mainland capital without a government-supported music venue committed to multicultural music. It is interesting that a key CBD commercial venue, The Basement, has launched a five-month Global Sounds series presenting world music. We wouldn’t be expecting a concert of koto and shakuhachi – but this does suggest some faith that there is an audience out there beyond those nostalgic for the music of the homeland. Not too confident, though: it’s only monthly.


Meanwhile, the nation-leading Multicultural Arts Victoria is about to get its own building. Say what! Once a month in Sydney, 24/7 in Melbourne.


There is a more or less untouched area of 19C houses and warehouses behind the major new apartment development on Broadway in Sydney. It has suddenly gone from shabby backwater to heritage treasure due to its proximity to its high cost neighbour.

judith_neilson_1Judith Neilson’s White Rabbit Gallery, a major private gallery specialising in Chinese art, suddenly finds itself in surroundings of growing hipness – and Neilson is hip-hopping further with the announcement of a new gallery and performing space nearby, with a personal investment of $32 to 41 million in building costs. Comparisons are being made with MONA in Hobart.

Says Neilson: ‘The two spaces – the gallery and the stage – they’ll be working constantly with one another …The visual arts have moved off the wall, and become very interlinked with performing arts. You can see it, it’s happening everywhere. And I don’t think there’s any going back.’

Curiously, the new venue will not be open to the public. What exactly that means remains to be seen. What is the point if no-one can attend?


Also in Sydney, proposals are being made “to transform the White Bay Power Station into a world-class art space, and to secure an area of 10 hectares around the station where an arts precinct can grow organically”.

white bay power station 2
The power station is another of those enormous defunct and decrepit buildings that seem sometimes to be rebirthed as arts centres. This one, definitely big enough to accommodate multicultural, is in the current developer’s wet dream called the Bays Precinct, to the west of the city around the Anzac Bridge and Balmain. There are massive profits in prospect so maybe the arts facility can be a trade-off. You can connect at http://www.sydneyartzone.org.au/


Speaking of arts precincts, the estimable Justin Macdonnell has some things to say in a new Platform Paper from Currency Press. The blurb says “Once precincts grew where the people gathered, now they rise in neglected places, in the hope of attracting growth. There’s evidence they sell more tickets, but not that they produce better art. Property values rise, but are artists better rewarded? Does the public have a richer experience or even a more convenient one? Are cultural precincts really just another commodifying of the arts? Is there a better way?”

Now Justin, don’t be difficult.


australian chamber choirThe Australian Chamber Choir must be blushing after its tour of Germany, Denmark and Switzerland. The reviews could hardly have been more positive. The Melbourne choir, founded by Douglas Lawrence in 2007, has achieved standards that impress even the Germans. The program included Australian works by Broadstock, Leek and Tom Henry which especially attracted warm attention.
“Time and again they astonished the audience with their vocal virtuosity and lightning-fast transitions from the softest and gentlest pianissimo to the most powerful tutti sound.” – Berlingske Tidende, Copenhagen, July 8, 2015


Moorambilla 2014Meanwhile, in outback NSW, the remarkable Moorambilla Festival project, which brings together children from a vast area around Coonabarabran, is to stage its tenth anniversary concert, the Moorambilla Voices, in Dubbo on September 19. It will present two chldren’s choirs along with its virtuosic supporters, Taikoz percussion and The Song Company.

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