Oh, my goodness! The sky is falling. Yes, really. Your correspondent has been talking to Chicken Little.
Chicken Little, as you will all be aware is a creation of the Creative Industries: a visual artist and writer was involved in her development. (Well, many visual artists and writers in fact, in book and film). So Chicken Little should know what she is clucking about.
It’s just that she seems to be so disturbed by so much: misogynists don’t like the new Mad Max movie; Cate Blanchett has had relationships with other women; accountants have ruined music education in Canberra and are now about to destroy the Elder Conservatorium in Adelaide; Johnny Depp’s dogs can’t stay in Australia; Melba Records has a personal siphon directly into the government trough; a ballet school got money for new premises without peer review; Opera Australia doesn’t program works by Australians or even women (although, horror of horrors, their funding seems to be secure like all the other Major Performing Arts Groups); the current government thinks Bjorn Lomborg is an OK guy; facility management companies running asylum seeker camps are sponsoring the arts; News Corp has taken a lead from Facebook and banned the nipple; and Chicken Little can’t get her projects funded. Oy vey, oy vey!
The loudest squawks coming from social media right now are budget related. Chicken Little and her mates are in high dudgeon because the recent Australian Federal Budget cut funding to the Australia Council, and (wait for it) transferred some funds to the Ministry for the Arts (for which read “transferred into the Minister’s Personal Slush Fund”), as well as shifting money to another organisation called Creative Partnerships Australia which many in the hen house have never heard of. Chicken Little’s fellow travellers all hate Arts Minister Senator Brandis with a passion. It is not quite clear in this corner of the chicken coop whether Brandis is more hated than Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Clearly they both rate as mad Ridgebacks in the chook-yard. Feathers are flying everywhere. It may be salutary to remember, however, that the bureau(c)rats in the Arts Ministry, who will be feeding advice to Brandis, live in Canberra. It is a sure thing they are all lefties who vote labour. Canberra is like that.
You don’t think this is serious? Here’s a selection from social media: “arts funding now to be linked to commercial success”; “a culture of private and corporate sponsorship. Do we want to move MORE in this direction?” It’s a “new age of patronage and artistic privilege”; “Australia’s era of artistic silencing begins”. In other signs the sky is falling: a well-known Newcastle native of Renew Newcastle fame proudly tweets he is travelling First Class! Saxophonist Amy Dickson has launched a Children’s Music Foundation project in the Billich Art Gallery. (Some in the chicken coop may feel “art” in this context is rather loose, but let not your correspondent be too disingenuous. Whatever, Mr Billich may have difficulties with News Corp. and Facebook unless he’s concentrating more now on his Sydney-scapes.) It’s all enough to bring on a bad case of First World depression.
Stagenoise, an on-line arts newssheet says this of Brandis: “George Brandis is not an ordinary Australian. He is not like the rest of us and he sees absolutely no reason why he should be and no reason why that might be seen as a bad thing.” Hm. Well that begs the question whether chickens that practice the arts are like the rest of us in the farmyard. But best remember, Brandis does at least support “dead white roosters” as is evidenced by his (ungenerous, according to Stagenoise) contribution to Brisbane Baroque. It could be argued here that this was also a grant to a plump, yet well connected, old boiler (aka Leo Schofield). But best we don’t go there in case we disturb the donkeys down in Hobart.
What to do? Support the Arts Party? Come off it! Start a Getup petition? Nah. The chooks would do better to keep working on their next pitch for a bag of grain.
As night falls over the chicken run and the chooks come back to roost, waiting for the farmer to toss a little grain their way, the mood is sombre. Will there be a ‘morrow? Will the stars, too, fall from the sky? Your correspondent can assure the coop, hens and roosters alike, that the sun will rise tomorrow. Best the chooks heed the early call of their roosters and get out into the farmyard to scratch for seeds. It’s a farmyard jungle out there. But if they fail to find a convenient trough of government grains, or the way into the grain store via the raft of foundations out there, perhaps they may consider this: if they don’t fear government too much, Creative Partnerships Australia can give an extra sack for every one raised from all those other beasts in the farmyard. Even the Australian Cultural Fund might help them on their way. Just remember, anything is Pozible………