Ms Alison has a bad cold. I will spare you the details. In the snotty gloom that is my reality at the moment, inspiration is sadly lacking. To divert myself, I decided to do some legwork. Sydney 4,293,105
The burning question: is the common perception that Sydney arts are oddly favoured in the Australian - our only national newspaper - fair or unfair? To shed some light on this crucial issue, I totted up all the reviews from today back to May 15 - listed online here - and distributed them between our capital cities.
The results of this rough survey were certainly interesting. Firstly, if you want national attention for your play, exhibition, opera or concert, you don't want to live in Darwin. There were precisely no reviews from the Northern Territory.
The score went like this: Sydney, 10; Melbourne, 6; Brisbane, 4; Perth, 4; Adelaide, 4.
It gets more interesting when you consider how many of the events reviewed are touring, ie, how many will have lives beyond the city in which they originate. (The reviewed shows that are not touring are, we surmise, considered important on their own singular merit.) So: of the 10 arts events reviewed in Sydney, one (the Australian Chamber Orchestra) was embarking on a national tour. That's 10 per cent. So it seems that 90 per cent of the Sydney shows are considered worthy of national interest. OK.
Brisbane and Perth both get reviews of one touring event out of four, so 75 per cent of their shows are considered to be of national interest. None of the four events reviewed from Adelaide were tours, so that's 100 per cent (go Adelaide!)
But poor old Melbourne. Of the six events reviewed, three were tours. OK, three and a half, because the Melbourne Opera's Carmen is touring to Warrnambool. Here in the sticks, we only manage a national interest strike rate of 41.6 per cent.
Face it, Melbourne: since May 15, we have been precisely 48.4 per cent less interesting than Sydney. And we're 58.4 per cent less interesting than Adelaide. But at least we're 100 per cent more interesting than Darwin.
PS: I forgot about Canberra, our official "capital city": it seems I was not alone. No reviews from there either. It would be very interesting if some patient soul tracked all reviews for the past year, to see if the trends here are justly indicative of coverage (from my casual observation, which made me start counting in the first place, I wouldn't be surprised). In any case, I thought it might be handy to have relative population sizes, to put these figures in some perspective. For example: Melbourne's population is 85 per cent that of Sydney. Our arts coverage in the Australian is 60 per cent that of Sydney's. Is that an indication of a lack of cultural activity here? I don't think so...