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:: Sunday, 27 April 2008 ::

Stop the Active Contribution. Please.

Brace yourselves. Elizabeth MacGregor, who runs the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney has written a piece for the Daily Telegraph about her role at the 2020 summit. Is it any different to Cate Blanchett's blather before?

Youse know the answer.

Here she goes now - opens by patronising her audience, natch:

...I am keen to address some of the misunderstandings about the ideas which emerged.

Um, we understood just fine. Artists at 2020 have their hands out for cash and relevance.

One of the key issues of the summit was the need to communicate what artists contribute to society.

Key, right? What is this contribution then?

There are many examples of situations where the involvement of artists can make a difference. Take the built environment - what role could artists play in making sure that the concrete monoliths of the past are not repeated in the future? Artists have rallied to climate change issues - how can complex ideas be communicated visually to more people? What about the role of the arts in mental health? There is evidence that involvement in creative projects can actually save money.

Wha'? What the heck is she asking questions for? Give us some examples if there are so "many".

As a board member of the Australian Children's Music Foundation, I am proud to have witnessed the success of the provision of musical instruments to young people within the criminal justice system.

Oh. An example. Teaching kids music. And it is a 'success' because...what...juvenile crime reduced? Who knows. She is not saying. Not much of an example of "contributing" then.

There are many examples of the role of the arts in dealing with social issues, where people who feel alienated can be given the confidence to move on through an engagement with the arts.

So name some. Jeez, if there are so "many".

What about the role of literature and film - the telling of stories, ours and others?

Orunno. What about it? Never mind your questions, lady, we are all just waiting on some clear examples of the arts doing good for society. Ya got any?

When we discussed the idea of a 1 per cent dividend, it was not about a hand out. It was not even necessarily about new money but about asking government departments to identify things that they already spend money on which could be improved by the involvement of artists (in all disciplines).

Right, so mandated spending. They were asking for mandated spending of existing money...on them, artists...but that is no handout, how exactly?

It's not about what can government do for artists but what can artists do for government - to help them achieve their objectives.

Exsqueeze me? This is priceless. She believes in forcibly taking taxpayer money and commissioning artists with it and this is somehow not the govt "doing for artists" but the other way around? The receiver of the largesse becomes the giver in this woman's head. Incredibile, eh?

By working with businesses, arts organisation can find ways in which artists can contribute to the things that business wants to do - not a subsidy, an active contribution.

Hang on. "Find ways...to contribute"? Wasn't the opening of this piece a statement that artists already do? Whatever - it was a bullshit premise to begin with. What she is contemplating here is the insertion of artists into business. As with the govt mandated spending and commissioning, she thinks business should commission artists too.

Hmmm. Wait a minute. I think I get it.

You station a poet-in-residence at, say, the Road Traffic Authority registry or at the bank or at the factory, yeah? In the office kitchen where people gather away from their desks. The breakout room. Her role is to launch into spirited readings of her poems whenever someone puts the kettle on or puts something in the microwave or the toaster.

Get the heck outta there and get back to work.

Or the artist will start "contributing".

Not sure that is quite what Ms Macgregor has in mind but I can see productivity going through the roof. Thankyou artists.
:: WB 10:50 pm [link+] ::

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