Not every human opinion is published in haste or on Facebook. Some of it is set down after days—even months—of thought.
“To find the time for thought on arts and culture”. If Daily Review were the sort of place that printed out mission statements, something like this might have been posted in big red typeface on our wall. What we’ve sought to do above all else these past three years—while failing to post any mission statement—is to steal back time for opinion; to steal time back for arts criticism, news and review.
This noble act of theft by Daily Review has been both a great success and—let’s be frank, here—a bit of a fiasco.
First, to the fiasco.
As you know—you’ve glanced at Facebook; you’ve read the arts review of a novice—an opinion can be had in no time flat. But, the opinion worth having, or considering, must be formed. This takes time.
Just about a decade ago, Australia’s broadsheet newspapers lost time. Some publications, like this one, went in search of it. The time to cultivate skill, form opinion or even to gather news was taken quickly from our daily papers. When specialists became generalists; expert opinion was eclipsed by writers expert chiefly in making an online fuss, small enterprises like Daily Review arose to restore what was lost.
Fairfax is now no longer free to take time. The notion that readers crave, deserve or need arts coverage may be correct—it may be still believed by certain employees of that corporation—but the coverage itself can no longer be realised.
The once great arts writing of broadsheets was never sustained by revenues from arts advertising, but almost always from classified sales. Used cars, shared flats, house sales and church fetes. Such items paid for the time of the critic.
We have no classifieds for our criticism.
To take back time for thought, once provided by hundreds of thousands of small print ads, is not an Exciting Challenge. It’s an absolute distraction from the work we believe must be continued, and can, in fact be improved and democratised by the fact of its online home.
Rather than read spreadsheets or of the latest revenue streams for specialty publications, we’d read the diverse work of new writers. We’d rather spend time with a book for review. We’d rather spend time thinking about anything but the retrieval of time. But, if we’re to continue publishing opinions not merely “had” but truly formed by critics, both emerging and established, we must.
This is the stuff of our fiasco. If we retain (1) our stubborn view that this publication must be available at no cost to the many and (2) our principled view that a deep understanding of expressive works can be valuable to the many, we will offer, from time to time, this plea: “donate a little something to Daily Review, if you are able.”
We’re hoping that the fiasco created by this era in publishing—and, yes, by our own idealism—resolves itself. We’re working on it. For now, please, donate a little something to Daily Review, if you are able.
Enough of our fiasco. Now, to our success.
Readers. We have them. Lots. We have lots of unusually engaged and critical readers. We can see engagement in our graphs. We see smart criticism in your correspondence and, of course, your comments and in the donations many of you have generously made since we launched our reader appeal in November, 2016.
The high quality and volume of your written responses to art works, art reviews and broader cultural opinion we’ve come to host at Daily Review is a real mood booster—works better than a mission statement. In this nation where arts and arts criticism have their revenues diminished and their importance dismissed, we see hard evidence, provided by you, of enduring, informed passion for arts and culture.
Much of the time, you who comment do so in the spirit of collaboration. A Buckmaster film review or a commentary by Frazer or Kapetopoulos, a bold Pigot report or a Walkley nominated Kelly essay on those conditions, policies and prejudices that diminish art and culture may just be the beginning of a reader conversation. A critical, patient conversation that will advise all of us who review and work in this place.
There are, of course, occasional disputes with the view of the author. Except where I am concerned. Here, disputes are constant, and this is due not only to my style of writing, which some find objectionable, but my occasional habit of telling readers to “jog on”, “eat me” or “read a fucking book, you bell-end.”
Still. In my defence I offer two thoughts: First, I am not only cheered by the overwhelming majority of comments and correspondence I receive from my work at Daily Review, I am also informed by it; Second, I spend FAR more time than is financially feasible on the attempt to tone what may be my irredeemably brash style down.
If you believe my tone is purposely brash or that my criticism and comment is fuelled not by thought but the desire to annoy, I ask either that you simply overlook it, just read the rest of the fine publication and donate a little something to Daily Review, if you are able.
Or, I ask you to listen to my podcast. You will find I do my damnedest to tone down my truly bad temper on the page. Not, however, on the venture I have called Knackers and the Vadge. This is me without an editor or keyboard.
The title is a tribute to my past as one half of an FM breakfast radio duo. In this case, co-host Knackers is a small stuffed bear as, I couldn’t find a real person who’d agree to work with me.
My weekly, lengthy conversations are chiefly obsessed with the end of capitalism and rarely touch on art—I’m leaving such a future podcast for Daily Review. Do be warned: there is an awful lot of swearing. I may be heard—at no charge, of course—on iTunes, TuneIn or SoundCloud. If you care to, you may sample what may be my irredeemably brash tone in uncensored form.
If you enjoy the podcast, I ask for no funds. Perhaps donate a little something to Daily Review, if you are able. If you do not enjoy the podcast, perhaps donate a little something to Daily Review, if you are able. Who knows? This might encourage all our critics to provide you with a weekly precis of the publication.