Mad as a Coote ~ theatre notes

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Mad as a Coote

The Liberals have announced their arts policy and, by gum, I'm off to tell those demonstraters outside Bracksie's office (just down the road here) just who to picket.

Andrea Coote, the Liberals' shadow arts minister, gave a taste of what a State Liberal government would do to the arts. She's obviously been reading Andrew Bolt's column assiduously: the State Government, she says, has been funding "elitist Melbourne-centric festivals that attract a limited audience". She also wants to get rid of the tax-guzzling Australian Centre for the Moving Image, slashing its money and maybe even moving it away from Federation Square. It's all those elitist children's films, I guess. And Arts Victoria would get an overhaul and be made "more accountable".

One of the things that irritates me most about the ideologues claiming that artists are growing fat on the public teat is that they have no idea how accountable the process is. I am not sure that any other public money is subjected to as intense scrutiny as arts funding, and I have often thought that it might be a good idea if it was.

It is not easy to get a grant: they are not, as the impression seems to be, handed out like lollies at Christmas time. The competition is intense. If you are fortunate enough to get one, every grant must be totally accounted for, by the artists and then by the bureaucracies that administer them. Arts Victoria is, as it happens, particularly demanding on this front.

Where would the Liberals' money go? An extra $5.2 million to Eisteddfods, to keep the proles happy (anyone else got visions of those novel machines in the Ministry of Truth?) And the opera, of course, will be ok. Politicians like going to the opera.

UPDATE: Of course Bracksie, having occupied all the possible middle ground, swept back into power. Now the Liberals are faithfully observing the obligatory post-election chicken slaughter. Personally, I'm sure it's the arts policy that lost them the election...

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