Have a read of this opinion piece from literary critic Peter Craven.
It really gives you some idea fo the entitlementÂ mentalityÂ of bludging arts wankers.
There was a dinner at Jeanne Pratt’s Raheen mansion recently in honour of the Melba Foundation. Melba happens to produce the best classical CDs in the country and it also happens to have had its throat cut funding-wise by the Gillard government.
The dinner had a lot of donors present but it also had a number of distinguished artistic figures – Geoffrey Rush (the man who has won an Oscar, an Emmy and a Tony), Barry Tuckwell, arguably the world’s greatest horn player, and Bill Henson, the photographer who was already famous before politicians decided to add slander to the mix. But the reason some of us were there was to see George Brandis, because if the polls are to be believed we will have a Tony Abbott Coalition government in September and the man who will be not only attorney-general but arts minister is Senator Brandis.
Well, the good news – piquant news for people who honour a Whitlamite legacy with the arts – is that George Brandis showed signs of being a better arts minister than we have seen in the longest time.
It was a lustrous evening with quotations from Vladimir Ashkenazy singing Melba’s praises and a clip of Barry Humphries telling us its glories. Robert Richter, QC, a man with a highly developed sense of liberty, spoke with that painstaking forensic logic of his (that would make many of us choose him if we were accused of high crimes) about the injustice that had been done to Melba which was not about making money but about recording the work of great Australian artists. Then Maria Vandamme, the head of Melba, talked about the importance of what the foundation wanted to achieve.
Bear in mind that the high arts have not prospered under Labor. There was a time when people feared even for the state symphony orchestras under Peter Garrett’s ministership. Simon Crean, too, was deaf to Melba’s pleas. The foundation looked like being relegated to the slag pile of Australia Council handouts (where the envy of invidious competitors never does Melba much good).
The current Arts Minister, since Crean fell on his sword, is the amiable but not manifestly highbrow Tony Burke.
It was in this context that George Brandis got up to speak. He said that the arts were not to be justified because they brought in tourism, or played magic tricks with the economy, or contributed to the light seen from our region: they were to be justified simply because they were the arts and this made them of intrinsic value.