Despite a ludicrous survey conducted by the Australia Council that tells us 93 per cent of Australians are actively involved in the arts, the politicians are not fooled.
They know that art is a minority pursuit, with no votes to be won or lost. One of the reasons for this stasis is the age-old connection between the arts community and the Labor Party.
Still dreaming of the arts-friendly attitudes espoused by Gough Whitlam and Paul Keating, the arts crowd gives its support to the ALP with Pavlovian consistency. But what has the government done to deserve such loyalty? Arts Minister, Peter Garrett, answered this question in The Australian a few months ago, by pointing to “the maintenance and continuation of funding.” In other words: “Be grateful for what you’ve got!” And yet, to give but one example, our major art museums are all massively under-funded, and any government money thrown their way is trumpeted as a benefaction rather than a right.
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