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Editorial: Liveness/Deadness

Promotional image, Proximity Festival 2015, Perth Promotional image, Proximity Festival 2015, Perth
photo Matt Sav
RealTime 129 features ‘liveness’ and its burgeoning manifestations in experimental art practices. It’s an exciting time to be testing the limits of art and finding audiences that keenly embrace direct engagement as participants, co-makers and experimenters.

At the very same time, many artists, groups and organisations are facing death by government. Despite his art ministerial demise, George Brandis’ vanity funding project, the National Program for Excellence in the Arts, lives on in the hands of Mitch Fifield (also Minister for Communications, a market-driven portfolio if ever there was one and with Brandis’ copyright domain added to his brief).

To date, Fifield is committed to the NPEA, but says he’ll change the guidelines (perhaps money for individual artists?), while repeating the Brandis mantra that no money has been taken away from the arts. This reveals the same level of insensitivity to the lives of artists—and their audiences—as his predecessor.

Fifield says he will listen to the outcomes of the Senate Inquiry into the effects of the Brandis heist, but will he act on them when he’s already clinging to NPEA as if it’s now a slightly damaged toy of his own that just needs new wheels? Besides, there are no Liberals involved in the inquiry, so he can brand the recommendations as a Labor-Greens-cross-bench plot.

Such is the impact of the Brandis heist that many artists have already lost continuity of practice and opportunities to show their work let alone negotiate tours. So dire is the situation that Artspeak called the Meeting of Cultural Ministers (MCM) in Mildura on 2 October “to implement a plan for transitional funding to alleviate the potentially destructive impact of recent cuts to the Australia Council’s budget.”

Minister Fifield, instead of tweaking the NPEA guidelines, take serious note of the 2,200 submissions from artists and arts organisations to the Senate Inquiry. Be responsive, be responsible and return the $105m to be used for NPEA and the $6m taken out of Literature to the Australia Council. Allow Australian artists to get on with their creativity and, inseparably, their lives.

RealTime issue #129 Oct-Nov 2015 pg. 2

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