I dunno about TV intelligence, why only last weekend SBS TV ran "Der Rosenkavalier" on Saturday afternoon and ABC TV ran another production of the same opera on Sunday afternoon. Both were foreign productions. I suppose that the ABC was possibly trying to up its shattered arts broadcasting credentials somehow.
When I worked for the ABC 40 years ago they used to produce their own operas. And ballets. And symphonic concerts. And not "Spicks and Specks" and every damn time filling panel game thing that Andrew Denton could deliver cheaply.
After reading through so many dispiriting tales of neglect I count myself fortunate indeed to live on Kangaroo Island, South Australia. Within a population of 4,500 we have a large arts community of painters, sculptors, photographers, musicians, print-makers, writers etc., some of them finalists at the Waterhouse and Archibald, some well-known interstate and overseas. Many exhibit regularly interstate. We have a local newspaper that devotes a full page every week to the arts and many articles and pages throughout the year cover the numerous art festivals we have here. There are several galleries selling local artwork and there's a significant annual 10-day festival known as Arts Feast, where artists link up with local wineries, restaurants, coffee shops and similar food outlets, creating exhibitions and food treats in each venue. Any artist has free and welcome access to the local radio station. The State government has begun to take an increasing interest in what's happening here, as our tourist numbers contribute large sums to the state coffers. Last year one of the major gallery owners hired the Wine Centre in Adelaide and set up an exhibition of the best of the Island's art. It was a phenomenal success and was invited back this year, where artists again received high praise and great sales. (On a personal note might I mention with all modesty that one of my photos (sorry, digital) made the front cover of the Adelaide Review, a statewide paper devoted to the arts).
The point of all this is not to make you feel green, but to encourage people to work at the local level. By all means, those who can, try and tackle the large corporations, the ABC etc., but there's great mileage to be made from working at the local level and expanding gradually.
Bread and circuses:
You should see all euphoria about coming euro championship here in Poland (and all Europe - the same thing)... :(
That's exactly how I would analyze the trend myself. And consider yourself lucky, you guys and gals out there, because in my country it is likely to be worse than that. What a shame.
Originally Posted by darkosaric
Pardon me for going back to the original proposition, but as the discussion has developed I see the emergence of two streams that has confused the issue. Back in 2009 Nicole wrote .........
............ That's just a self-serving opinion. What's the basis for saying "Art & Science should be mainstream"? At what period in history has that ever been the case? It's always been an educated minority that supported the "yarts".
Originally Posted by Nicole
So I submit firstly that the proposition being put forward that "big" media and government should increase their coverage of the things we approve of and force feed the rest of the population with stuff they don't want is seriously flawed and naive. I'm not being rude - just pointing out the facts of the matter. That's not to say we should not try to encourage the ABC, for example, to maintain or increase their coverage and content but apart from their wide-ranging charter they have political overlords to satisfy and so they cannot but end up in a compromised position.
The fork in the road I detect relates to evidence offered by several posters who described a thriving local arts scene. This doesn't satisfy Nicole's complaint but the reality is that artistically and musically there actually is a healthy community of arts practitioners and followers spread across the country. Kangaroo Island got a mention. I can think of other areas like the Blue Mountains and the Dandenongs where thriving artistic activity is going on and has done for years. Sure, it's local, but that's where the action is and where like minded people can meet and connect and motivate each other. If you don't happen to live in or near one of those areas then it's a bit tough but my point is they do exist and have done so for many years.
Let me outline a couple of scenarios that work in different ways.
There is a thriving Folk Music community spread right around Australia. It is not governed by location. There are many small local folk music clubs that are part of a wider community that has itself well organised with a monthly magazine bearing news, forthcoming festivals, overseas artists, a gig guide to where and when local artists are performing, reports on shows and festivals - and it's not limited to "folk". It includes bush poetry, bush dancing, bluegrass and independent artists. They even have a National Convention each year. Ever heard of it? Probably not unless you're interested but the fact is that there are several thousand Australians who are involved at some level.
Country music operates in much the same way. You might hear about the Keith Urbans etc, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Beavering away week by week in countless halls and clubs around Australia there are country music clubs where people come to play and listen, go to weekend camps to compete for awards and go to Tamworth to busk in the hope of getting recognised. Thousands more involved and again they have their own national organisation and magazine.
Compare those scenarios with the level of interest, activity and involvement in the photographic world - specifically the camera clubs around Australia. Do you see anything resembling the same level of involvement and activity and numbers participating? Not a chance. So where does the problem lie? It's pretty obvious, isn't it? And if you're a media mogul and have three proposals on your desk asking for funding or coverage of Folk, Country and Photography, which one is going into the round green bin first?
There's a second problem with photography. There's too much of it. With a modern digital do-anything-auto camera every man woman and child can produce good photographs. Good enough to satisfy their needs for display on a computer anyway. So any photographs that are exhibited as "art" need to be absolute stand-out images that anyone looking at will know that they're far better than anything they can produce themselves. Tough call. Go along to your local show and look at the photographic entries. 90% will be absolute crap in terms of subject choice, composition and presentation. With a first place prize of $5 who in their right mind would enter such a 'competition'? And who judges it? Probably the wife of the mayor if you're lucky. So people struggle on as individuals and count themselves lucky if they can get a bit of wall space in a local coffee shop to hang a few examples of their work. A couple of years ago to try to encourage some interest in traditional photography I offered to provide $200 as first prize for a B&W print at our local show and it was refused on the grounds that it would "upset the balance" of prize values right across the show, including the scones and cake decoration I have no doubt. They would have been happy to take my $200 provided they had absolute discretion in redistributing it across all prize categories.
Consider the differences for painters. Joe Blow and his wife Mary know they can't paint. Never tried, never will. But they'll go along to the annual local Art Prize and admire the entries. Some will be pretty ordinary but some will be excellent and well deserving of the prize money which probably ranges between $2000 and $5000, depending on the status of the show and the sponsorship they have obtained. And many of the artists will sell their work. If you have the chance, go to Bright in NE Victoria at Easter and view the show there and you'll see what I mean - and that's only one of many around the country. And most of the people who go to look can't/don't paint themselves. And there will be "name" artists to perform the judging. Many of the local artists will belong to a society or club that provides space, tuition, workshops, outings and encouragement.
If you hunt around you'll likely find there's some form of infrastructure already there to support most forms of artistic endeavour. Other than photography, most seem to exist satisfactorily or even thrive but they do it on their own and often under the radar. I submit that the problem for photographers is twofold. Their own inertia and individualism and the fact that digital technology has over-run the craft element of the field so that there's little that's seen as special by the 'average punter'. And I don't have an answer for that.
So far that's the best way of putting it. The quality helps to stand out but it's not enough. Coming back to the TV problem - well, they tend to chop the reality in order to serve the 'average punter'. The real problem comes when the 'average punters' fed with chopped perception en mass come to decide on vital things in our lives...then photography and arts become least problems on the agenda.
Originally Posted by Leigh Youdale
I wonder how much this reluctance to promote the arts at a "higher" level is due to cultural cringe and how much is simply a consequence of our being a young country, still pushing frontiers, still searching for an identity, still with numberless materialistic problems to solve. There's still a widely-held perception that artists "don't do anything useful," with the obvious implication that utility is front and centre for a new, vigorous, successful nation. We're a long way from the cultural depth of Renaissance Italy, Baroque Holland or Expressionist Germany, for instance, which could afford a broader view of what it means to be a civilized, balanced society. We can't look back to any kind of "classical" past. All we have to revere and imitate is a bunch of larrikin settlers, a few thousand outrageously-sacrificed soldiers and a great batsman. That's not much on which to found an artistic milieu (although we've done pretty well, nevertheless). I certainly support any raising of the average Aussie's awareness of things creative and I think it's happening, perhaps not in the areas or at a level some would like, but neither do I think Australia is an artistic backwater. We have to find our own imagery. Perhaps the surging wave of Aboriginal art might be the kick we need. Who knows? I think it's just a matter of feeling our way and taking our time. I'm optimistic.
Who is this "WE" of which you speak? Any time I hear someone unilaterally speak for the masses it is always for something that will make us "better" and more "open minded", think, prohabition. I agree that it would be nice if there were more arts but then who is it that would decide what is "art", You? Sports is easy to quantify, it is after all, competition but tastes vary so widely when it comes to things of the "artistic" nature that it is not so cut and dry. I like Robert Mapplethorpe's early works but there is a lot of his work that I find offensive and would not want my children exposed to but if a "cultural committee" decided that "WE" needed to experience all of his work people may get offended. I like it the way it stands, I choose what I like and avoid what I don't, simple. I also monitor what my children are exposed to as that is my imperative as a parent. The great "unwashed" masses are sheeple and so are led around by what sells, don't fall into their trappings unless you can develop the next "Masters of Art" video game or reality television show, oh, oh, I know, how about an Ansel Adams Fat Head wall sticker.
The "we" of whom I speak is my fellow Australians. This thread is largely about our situation in this country - or have I misread it?
Correct. The OP's complaint related directly to the local scene.
Originally Posted by lesm
I thought your previous post was pretty much on the money. We're a very young country. The USA was on it's third President with a developed society and a Constitution (signed in 1776) at the time the First Fleet arrived here with it's load of convicts and military. At times, apart from the uniforms, there wasn't much to distinguish the criminality on either side. Our early Free Settlers were not the cream of artistic excellence, whatever their other admirable attributes. We have no long tradition of fine art or culture - what we have is developing but from a base borrowed from European history and, all in all we've done fairly well. We have State and National Art Galleries that have excellent collections and visiting exhibitions and many smaller galleries in regional centres that play their part. Sure, it could be richer and better communicated but a lot of that depends on us, not people like Kerry Stokes, Rupert Murdoch or James Packer - or Tony Abbott if you want to include the pollies.