Sydney’s Creative Mojo

Thanks For Caring Anyway, Cate

Cate Blanchett put out a speech earlier this week. She was basically arguing that there could be an arts precinct in the new Barangaroo Walsh Bay development and that it would be great f government would open its purse to allow this to happen.

Pleiades sent me this awesome link, Ben Eltham’s reponse over at Crikey:

US academic Jane Jacobs observed in the 1960s that a key aspect of cultural vibrancy was old buildings and cheap space: things that Walsh Bay lacks, despite Upton and Blanchett’s fuzzy call for “assisted rent”. Artists need cheap housing as much as they need cheap workspace, but affordable accommodation workspace is unlikely to be available in a new development in the newest part of Sydney’s CBD.

For those who don’t happen to warm the benches of Walsh Bay’s arts venues, Sydney’s post-Olympic “quandary” is long over. The “new Trade Union Club” that Upton longs for might well be the Red Rattler, or an underground warehouse space in Enmore. New events such as the Underbelly Arts festival and the Imperial Panda festival are springing up to incubate a new generation of emerging practice. The Casula Powerhouse is showing itself to be far more connected and responsive to its local community than the Opera House, which is spending hundreds of millions of dollars upgrading its loading dock.

What is in Walsh Bay are a lot of subsidised arts companies, which rather suggests the motivation behind Cate and Andrew’s vision. If Australia has an epicentre for public subsidy of the arts, Walsh Bay is it. The STC itself enjoys public funding of more than $2.4 million annually, which could comfortably support dozens of independent theatre  producers or small start-ups. Now there’s an idea for Sydney’s “next adventure”.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s interesting that Cate Blanchett, who is so successful out in Hollywood and therefore should understand how the market place works, could be pitching for more government subsidies.

Lately I’ve come to view government subsidies as the kiss of death for any industry in any country. The moment a government starts handing over money directly to its artists or novelists of film makers, they start making crap. It happens because without the market, there’s no social meaning to the arts. It doesn’t mean that which is populist is good, but that the requirement to at least please the market or a client or a sponsor adds to the discipline of whatever that is being done. it’s a sad truth. The moment you stop wanting to wow people and can pull down a paycheck for churning out whimsy, you’ll be making crap in no time.

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Filed under Cinema, Film, Literature, Movies, Pop, Rock, Television

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