|Pre-Paradise, PACT Youth Theatre |
photo Heidrun Löhr
March 5, 2001
In response to Sarah Miller’s article “The Vision Thing” (RealTime 41, page 11) there are just 3 points I’d like to make in relation to her comments on the Australia Council.
My first point is about the Australia Council and “lobbying.” The Council is an arm of Government, being a statutory authority. A simple survey of funding issues at the Federal level over the past 5 years will show quite clearly that Government agencies lobbying Government is the least effective way to generate more funds. How does the Agricultural industry get more funding? Through the lobbying of the Farmers’ Federation. How did the scientists get more money? Through the lobbying of the business community. How has cessation of old growth logging come about in WA? Through lobbying by the green movement and its allies in Perth. And as for petrol prices, thanks go to the community at large!
None of this was achieved through lobbying efforts by a government agency. What the Council needs to do is to complement the lobbying efforts of others by reinforcing them through advocacy to government. Contrary to the implication of Sarah’s comments, we have not been sitting on our hands in this regard. Our role in achieving positive outcomes with the Ralph Legislation, the Moral Rights Legislation, and the Nugent Inquiry is well known to those who worked with us on these projects. But we don’t do it through the press or the other avenues that lobby groups will use.
Secondly, we have looked at how the increased funds were achieved for the major performing arts companies. This was not idle lobbying but an in-depth study of how that part of the sector was faring. The second and third tier companies, and the visual arts organisations, are now the centre of attention, and the Council’s planning process aims to fill out the picture in terms of the major issues for the field. Without such a picture there is nothing to present to government which is any more telling than the competing bids from the welfare, environmental, farming, and education sectors. Without “an expensive waste of time”, as Sarah puts it, we can’t even get to first base in marshalling our arguments.
Thirdly, Sarah accuses the Council of “hubris” in assuming responsibility for determining the future of arts practice. Please read the document, Sarah: it expressly says that this project is not about doing that, but is, instead, about enabling the Council to provide the type of support for the arts sector that the sector deems is most appropriate. You will notice, if you read on, that the leadership issue actually came up in one of the vision days and is not something that the Council itself put forward. I personally have big problems with the notion of a Government agency playing a leadership role—all sounds too totalitarian to me. But let’s see what the rest of the field thinks. After all, this is what the project is all about.
Chair, Australia Council
March 21, 2001
In response to Dr Margaret Seares’ letter, I would like to note the following:
Firstly, I think that a closer reading of what I wrote would indicate that my response to the ‘minutes’ of the New Media Arts Vision Day were rather more ‘wary’ or ‘conditional’ than definitive. In my relatively brief, general remarks regarding the Australia Council, I was careful to note that “if there’s no money to back new ideas and initiatives…then all that vision and planning will become nothing more than an expensive waste of time.” For me and many of my peers, that is the unfortunate, everyday reality.
Secondly, I certainly don’t expect the Australia Council to be fully responsible for advocacy and lobbying. I made a distinction and suggested “a more effective role”, a “complementary” role if you like. Nor do I think the Australia Council has been sitting on its hands although, at times, it’s easy to get the impression that Council sees much of the arts community as the ‘opposition’ rather than as equal participants, perhaps a consequence of the funder/fundee relationship. I feel I must also note the enormous effort put in by students, individual artists, companies and organisations (NAVA in particular) across Australia to achieve more positive outcomes regarding the Ralph Legislation and Moral Rights Legislation and I’d be very sure that in terms of the Nugent Report, the MOF organisations lobbied extensively on their own behalf. I do see the Promoting the Value of the Arts (PVA) project and Vision Days as examples of ‘initiative’ and ‘leadership’, however I also reserve my right of comment.
In writing “The Vision Thing” I did, in fact, talk to a number of Vision Day participants, and I still feel it was important to note some of their concerns. I think I made it quite clear that a definitive response would be premature at this stage. Nevertheless, I strongly believe in the importance of discussion, debate, disagreement, dissent, scepticism, celebration, irony and even the odd bad joke. Only then can some of the interesting and important stuff emerge.
I appreciate Dr Seares’ participation in what I’m sure will be, and should be, ongoing issues for discussion and debate.
March 12, 2001
Thanks for the profiles of theatre and performance in Sydney in the last 2 issues of RealTime. It’s been a pleasure to read considered, informed and serious responses to work being done in a variety of companies and contexts. Can we please have regular, extended features on work being done in other States and Territories too?
I was fortunate to have the chance to work with Caitlin Newton-Broad and her team of young performers on their production of Pre-Paradise (RT#41). Fassbinder’s play, Pre-Paradise Sorry Now, was in part a response to the Living Theater’s controversial 1968 work, Paradise Now (which was “intended to inaugurate a non-violent anarchist revolution by freeing the individual”, The Oxford Companion to the Theatre) and Pre-Paradise Sorry Now was the original inspiration for the PACT piece.
As the research and development progressed, though, we found ourselves more drawn to Fassbinder’s play Blood on a Cat’s Neck (1971). The texts used in the final production included most of Blood on a Cat’s Neck, a piece written by Fassbinder himself as a young teenager (the “Vertex” piece which began the evening) and a short piece written by one of the performers, Michelle Outram. The title Pre-Paradise, however, was retained as Caitlin felt, rightly, that it was very evocative, especially for the young performers with whom she was working, many on the cusp of adulthood.
And you’re quite right in regard to the filmic feel to the production—not only is Caitlin influenced by Fassbinder’s films and visual aesthetics, but this early play contains a number of images, situations and characters which Fassbinder also included in later films.
We’re planning to work our way around the country with a series of overviews of theatre and performance in each state. Richard Murphet will report on a range of opinions from Melbourne in our next edition. Editors.
February 21, 2001
Dear Kirsten Krauth,
I greatly appreciate your review [of Cunnamulla, OnScreen, RealTime 41, page 14]—not only for its praise but for the story you tell.
If only I could reach out and touch more people the way I have to you—then I would be a happy man.
With best wishes,
RealTime issue #42 April-May 2001 pg. 10
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