Australia Council’s Sam Walsh responds to artist David Pledger’s quest to be his left-hand man

Last week, artist David Pledger applied for the position of CEO of funding body, the Australia Council for the Arts, by publishing his application for how to take the organisation into the 21st Century on Daily Review.

Pledger wrote a long and thorough brief of his vision to the new chair of the Australia Council, Sam Walsh, the former global head of mining giant Rio Tinto.  The artist wrote (in part):

“I believe the Australia Council is on the wrong side of history. I believe it no longer understands its role or agency within the broader cultural landscape. I believe its working culture is silo-based, myopic and disconnected from many of its constituencies….There’s more where that comes from, but we’ll have to wait for our face-to-face. I’m looking forward to it. Interview me.”

Perhaps proving that there might be change ‘a coming at the bureaucratic, non-agile, not-very-exciting-place-to-be- alive Australia Council, Sam Walsh posted his response on Daily Review rather than reply to Pledger according to the usual government agency protocols:

August 11, 2018 at 5:35 pm
To Mr David Pledger
Artist, Curator and Candidate

RE: OPEN APPLICATION FOR THE CEO POSITION, AUSTRALIA COUNCIL FOR THE ARTS

Thank you David for your application, which I read very carefully. As you would be aware, applications have closed some time ago, and the recruitment process is well underway.

That said, we are always interested in the views of the sector – it is very important that those who contribute to Australia’s artistic and creative endeavours have a strong voice and that it is heard.

I appreciate you raising these issues in your letter, and for taking the time to put your thoughts into print .

Warm regards,

Sam Walsh
Chair
Australia Council for the Arts

August 14, 2018 at 7:51 pm

Dear Sam,

Thanks for your response.

Noted that the recruitment process is still underway and I accept with regret that my request for an interview is declined in this context.

I will keep open my candidature for the position in case circumstances alter as they so often do during such a process. I will be keen to receive such correspondence.

Looking forward to real change.

Warm regards,

David

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2 responses to “Australia Council’s Sam Walsh responds to artist David Pledger’s quest to be his left-hand man

  1. Scott, the Australian Government doesn’t hate individual artists, it just doesn’t understand how such things can be possible. The government exists in a world of its own making where decisions can only be made by committee and any original thought is outlawed, witness the behaviour of our elected leaders when faced with having to make a ‘courageous decision’, with regard to climate change, NEG or indeed anything that might not be favoured by their bosses, the faceless entities of busyness. Not that busyness ever did anything for the population except make it harder to get ahead. Therefore individuals who practise the arts are a mob totally out of the operating context of government. Goodness they, the artists may even produce something that is critical of their (the government’s behaviour) and they can’t stand that! Personally I’d have liked David Pledger to turn the Australia Council on its collective ears.

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