Hi everyone Tristian here, it’s time to talk about arts advocacy and what better place to do it than Canberra!
I went on a road trip to canberra this week with my family so I could come to the NAVA conference last weekend called Future/Forward. I heard it was about artistic courage so I figured they needed my insight.
National association for visual arts (NAVA) is an arts advocacy body which means its their job to explain why visual art should exist, because artists are really bad at it.
One bunch of artists who are extra bad at it is the ABC, they try their best but unfortunately their best means, “making ads with celebs saying what shows they like”.
The big line of Future/Forward was “artistic courage” but that mostly meant “can artists have the courage to get paid”.
I didn’t understand the point of lobbying government on behalf of artists because why would government ever want to help artists?
RECAP OF THE 2015 BRANDIS RAID
I wrote about this before so I won’t go too detailed but a few years ago artists protested a Sydney art thing for being funded by Transfield and then George Brandis and Malcolm Turnbull did everything they could to punish artists for standing up on their hind legs.
Then brandis took lots of money away from australia council and the big performing arts companies had huge amounts of artistic courage by keeping their mouths tightly shut about it.
The conference started feeling a bit too much about sucking up to dickhead politicians the more I thought about it so I went and checked out art stuff in the national gallery of Australia instead.
Next morning I made sure to not look at the ABC and instead went straight to Parliament for day 2 of the conference.
I met Sam in the security line, he works for friends of the earth and was going to meet some political people.
I liked day 2 better, I felt like the people there were ready to have more interesting conversations and break some s̶h̶i̶t̶ things.
Mitch Fifield’s the arts minister now that Brandis got fired for being completely s̶h̶i̶t̶ bad at it. He said the usual things ministers say about the arts being good for the economy
At lunchtime I talked to some interesting people.
There was a really good presentation by a guy called Abdul about equity.
Also there was a pretty cool session about arts media and how to advocate properly “in the system”. My brother was there and drew all that stuff so go look at it if you want to.
Someone tried to start a movement for an “arts strike”. I think that the main problem the arts has is that it doesn’t know how to reach out to “normal people”, so that seemed like not such a brilliant idea.
That got to my main problem with the whole conference, I’m not saying theres no place for “arts advocacy ppl” but I think if their main tactic is to be constantly chatting up government and wealthy people hoping for scraps then they might be missing something.
Artists want to share their art and communicate with people, thats why they do it, not to get paid. So help them get paid but also do a lot to get them to help “normal people” and “young people” make art.
If normal people get to make art they like doing it and they don’t hate artists as much. Young people like making art already, they just stop because people say theyll never make a living.
If you don’t have normal people and another generation of artists on board then your art strike will be about as good as the ABC showing “save the ABC” ads to people already watching the ABC.
Tristian Blumenstein is an 18-year-old aspiring journalist studying Media Entrepreneurship at Latham University. His brother David posts his most important works at nakedfella.com.
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