Accord­ing to the 2011 cen­sus fig­ures, appar­ent­ly there are half a mil­lion Aus­tralians who work in the cul­tur­al indus­tries — how­ev­er that may be defined — and mil­lions more who rely on it, read it, see it, lis­ten to it.  Despite this we went to the elec­tion, and notwith­stand­ing the grandiose words from the coalition’s arts spokesman, George Bran­dis, there was no offi­cial arts pol­i­cy — cost­ed or oth­er­wise.  No arts pol­i­cy, means of course, there can be no claim to any man­date on sub­jects involv­ing arts, cul­ture and enter­tain­ment.  To be fair, George did gen­er­ate some rhetoric about the arts pri­or to the elec­tion
but in terms of a con­crete pol­i­cy, espe­cial­ly in terms of cost­ings or sub­stance, there was a sig­nif­i­cant absence (and still is).  This was in par­tic­u­lar, appar­ent, when pressed for a response, by Fair­fax news­pa­pers. In regards to their pol­i­cy ques­tions, the coalition’s response was notice­ably absent.

Inter­est­ing­ly, despite George Bran­dis being interned in a posi­tion of Arts Min­is­ter  .. and the Sports Min­is­ter …. and the Attor­ney Gen­er­al, there still is no spe­cif­ic gov­ern­ment pol­i­cy for the Arts side of his port­fo­lio.  Giv­en there was none before the elec­tion, there can cer­tain­ly be no pre­tense of a man­date for the Arts. Not that I have ever being a fan of the “pre­tense”, that polit­i­cal par­ties give to, what they describe as, “a man­date” — (giv­en how fraught with selec­tion bias, emo­tion­al manip­u­la­tion, polit­i­cal jar­gon, nar­row mar­gins and men­tal lethar­gy exhib­it­ed by vot­ers, that the elec­tion process man­i­fests). Tony Abbott has cer­tain­ly sug­gest­ed he has a man­date for all man­ner of deci­sions he allud­ed to before the elec­tion and now is hell bent on imple­ment­ing; but the Arts, have not attract­ed the coalition’s atten­tion.   Unlike “Sci­ence”, they have at least cho­sen to assign a min­is­ter to it,  … well at least as one of his roles to the nation.  Cer­tain­ly no “one to one” sin­gu­lar atten­tion by a ded­i­cat­ed min­is­ter is on offer­ing, so con­se­quent­ly lim­it­ed atten­tion is like­ly to be paid to it.

Article from the "The Inner City Weekender" for the 1st of November [Page 10]
Arti­cle about The Arts Par­ty from as “The Inner City Week­ender” from the 1st of Novem­ber [Page 10]
All the more rea­son for the emer­gence of a polit­i­cal Par­ty in this cli­mate that will indeed sup­port the Arts agen­da and devel­op poli­cies in con­sul­ta­tion with Artists, in the vari­ety of “cul­tur­al indus­tries” that exist in Aus­tralia.  “The Arts Par­ty” is such an organ­i­sa­tion.  It is not yet a reg­is­tered Par­ty, as it is still pur­su­ing the num­bers and fund­ing nec­es­sary to get it off the ground and into the polit­i­cal are­na.  Using a crowd fund­ing site, the Art’s Par­ty is seek­ing to build the num­bers it needs and the ini­tial finance required to get it under­way.  Ulti­mate­ly, if you work in the fields of film, jour­nal­ism, archi­tec­ture, music, web design, pho­to retouch­ing, hair dress­ing , cook­ing, fash­ion design, illus­tra­tion, authors, direc­tors, act­ing, pho­tog­ra­phy, singing, prop and wardrobe design, dancers, acro­bat­ics, mod­el build­ing, sculp­ture and any oth­er man­ner of Artis­tic endeav­our; then if you are expect­ing polit­i­cal sup­port from the incum­bent gov­ern­ment; don’t hold your breath.  Not only is George the only polit­i­cal sup­port for this com­mu­ni­ty, I haven’t even to begin to list Aus­tralian Sports nor his legal respon­si­bil­i­ties as the Attor­ney Gen­er­al.  The lat­er duties which appear to be tak­ing front and cen­ter, keep­ing secret Abbott’s recent activ­i­ties by deny­ing jour­nal­ists access to infor­ma­tion.  As Clint Howitt not­ed of this lat­er role, “Attor­ney gen­er­al George Bran­dis has made it more dif­fi­cult to obtain details of gov­ern­ment deci­sions by tight­en­ing up the grant­i­ng of Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion requests, mak­ing the pro­ce­dure more con­vo­lut­ed and more expen­sive.”

So per­haps George has oth­er pre­oc­cu­pa­tions than serv­ing com­mu­ni­ties of artists — of which Jour­nal­ists are a par­ty to — and for whom he is busy deny­ing them oppor­tu­ni­ties to do their job.  Of course, we can wait till the Coali­tion gen­er­ates an Arts pol­i­cy, it has giv­en no pre-elec­tion promis­es for; appears to pre­oc­cu­pied with restrict­ing free­dom of expres­sion for ele­ments of the artis­tic com­mu­ni­ty;  and for which there are no polit­i­cal lob­by groups in exis­tence seek­ing a quick res­o­lu­tion.  What do you think will be the cov­er­age and sig­nif­i­cance of such a pol­i­cy?  The lib­er­als do have a page in which all their poli­cies are out­lined [http://www.liberal.org.au/our-policies], so by all means let me know where the Arts Pol­i­cy is?

The alter­na­tive?  Try throw­ing your sup­port into the — as of writ­ing this — still unreg­is­tered Arts Par­ty.   They hope to ulti­mate­ly be in a posi­tion to raise the pri­or­i­ty of Arts on the polit­i­cal agen­da.  If you want that, then start  by going to http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-australian-arts-party/ and sign­ing up.

What have you got to lose?  Oth­er than a career? [Why, … is that impor­tant to you???]

 

Post Turn­bull Appen­dum:

Since Tony Abbott’s evic­tion, the Arts port­fo­lio is yet again shared with oth­er port­fo­lios and still has not been giv­en a sin­gu­lar advo­cate.  While Bran­dis has moved on, the poli­cies of the par­ty have not.  Sen­a­tor the Hon Mitch Fifield has become Min­is­ter for Com­mu­ni­ca­tions AND the Min­is­ter for the Arts. Still this min­is­ter has not found the time to draw up a pol­i­cy for the Arts at the Fed­er­al lev­el because one pre­sumes he is busy with the mess the pre­vi­ous com­mu­ni­ca­tions min­is­ter left behind him with the more expen­sive­ly grow­ing NBN pol­i­cy and imple­men­ta­tion. Aside from keep­ing Indige­nous artistry and lan­guages alive, the poli­cies of cut­ting or divid­ing up fund­ing for the Arts has con­tin­ued unin­ter­rupt­ed. The Arts Par­ty in the mean­time is not only reg­is­tered but put up a can­di­date in Joe Hockey’s old seat and attract­ed 2% of the vote for a first time can­di­date, Lou Pol­lard, (a local Clown Doc­tor) in a par­ty most peo­ple hadn’t even heard of in North Syd­ney.