Danby asks if George Brandis will “put his money where his mouth is”

May 30, 2015 by J-Wire News Service
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Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Arts, Michael Danby, has strongly supported an international cantorial concert to be held in August, at the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation. 

Michael Danby

Michael Danby

Some media have reported that Mr Danby applied to Senator Brandis on behalf of the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation, just days after Senator Brandis announced he had taken $104.9 million from the independent Australia Council for the Arts and put it under his direct control. (Senator Brandis testified to this effect in Senate Estimates.)

The Melbourne Hebrew Congregation is a very well-known icon in Melbourne, located in Mr Danby’s electorate of Melbourne Ports.  Mr Danby wrote to the Minister on its behalf asking for the Minister, under the new financial arrangement for the Arts, to make some federal government contribution.

Senator George Brandis

Senator George Brandis

“I was amused by Senator Brandis’s comments in Senate Estimates on Wednesday”, said Mr Danby. “His changes to arts funding arrangements are wrong and I will continue to disagree with them. But everyone knows I’m a fierce warrior for my constituency, and have a duty to act on its behalf, despite my personal beliefs about the new funding arrangements for the Arts. The Melbourne Hebrew Congregation has raised significant funds for this concert, which will be open to the public and will benefit the entire Victorian community. These are the vague criteria laid down by the Minister as the now basis for dispensing funds. If he insists on these changes, then I will be very happy if he puts his money where his mouth is to enhance excellence in the Arts, including for the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation cantorial concert.



7 Responses to “Danby asks if George Brandis will “put his money where his mouth is””
  1. Liat Nagar says:

    How many artists who are today considered to be great, were appreciated in their own lifetimes? Not so many, which only goes to show how limited public opinion at the time can be. Artists and poets have always been outsiders insofar as not ‘fitting’ with public opinion and mores. Decisions on art funding should not be at the mercy of public opinion, which is by and large far too conservative.

    Yes, democratic government takes notice of public opinion, that due to their fear of losing elections. However, we need leaders and government of vision for the sake of society, intellectual and artistic achievement, and the country as a whole. So, by all means don’t ignore the people, however to strive toward excellence in arts, or science, requires peers of pertinent groups and those with fuller understanding of what it is to create a work of art, to make judgement on it with a view to funding.
    Contemporarily, as a society, we are veering at giddying speed toward mediocrity due to political correctness in thinking, focus on consumerism and greed, and lack of courage by those in power.

  2. Liat Nagar says:

    No, Leon, I haven’t seen the artwork you refer to. It’s more than possible that I, too, might think of it as less than art. There’s a lot of contemporary art that I don’t like. However, as I said earlier, that’s not really the point in this discussion on funding.

    I most certainly don’t think the tax paying public has any right to input in decisions as to who is allocated arts funding! Couldn’t think of anything worse. Just as I don’t think the public has a right to exercise their judgement on the sentencing of those deemed criminals by the court process. Or the right to make legal the stripping of one’s nationality. In all of these things crowd mentality and ignorance can play a big and dangerous part. So, okay, let’s demonstrate against what we believe is unjust, let’s exercise our vote to change government, but just because we pay taxes doesn’t give us the right to have input into every area those taxes are used.

    • Leon Poddebsky says:

      Liat, public opinion does play a part in shaping the views of legislators regarding the criminal and civil law. Hence the myriad changes in the law over time.
      A good example is the recent legislation regarding marriage in various states of the USA and in Ireland.
      Public opinion has a place in art appreciation and the funding of art projects.
      Opinion regarding the merits of art also changes over time, as you know.
      How many artists who are today considered to be great, were appreciated in their own lifetimes?

  3. Liat Nagar says:

    Arts funding should be completely independent of government ministerial judgement and interference. It’s a dangerous and messy situation Brandis has put in motion for the ramifications that could come of it and it should be revoked.

    Whether artworks to some resemble that of kindergarten children is not the point here. Judgement of art of any kind is highly subjective, and that subjectivity needs to be at the very least tempered by professional expertise and knowledge. Being a fan of opera does not mean you are fitted out to judge it; being an avid reader does not mean you are capable of judging all the elements that make up well-written literature, et al. Being Minister for the Arts does not equip you to judge what should or shouldn’t receive grants.

    The Australia Council for the Arts is not perfect and their decisions can frustrate some. However, their turnover of staff, both heading the organisation and serving on the Board, ensures new people making decisions, which is a good thing. This area is not a role for government.

    • Leon Poddebsky says:

      Liat, have you seen the “art” work to which I referred?
      I am well aware of the subjective nature of art appreciation, but common sense and ordinary judgement play a part don’t they?

    • Leon Poddebsky says:

      Also, Liat, don’t you think that the taxpaying public has a right to some input into decisions regarding the beneficiaries of public money?

  4. Leon Poddebsky says:

    The independent Australia Council for the Arts has generously funded some “art” projects which are absolutely ridiculous. These “art” works resemble those of kindergarten children.
    Perhaps that is why Senator Brandis made his decision.

    By the way, I am already aware that to criticise “the independent Arts Council” and to approve of a Coalition policy invites the reflexive epithet of “right-wing extremist.”
    I quote, therefore, from George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”, “Four legs good; two legs bad.”

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