A comment was left recently by a reader which bounced off the Big Brother TV show debate, but went much wider and deeper into Arts issues. Even though the writer labelled his comments as “just some late night thoughts from a tired school teacher”, I thought he raised enough interesting issues that it was worth putting it up again as a separate posting. You can read it over the fold (that’s fancy internet talk for clicking just here where it says (more…)
Even though I’ve never done a piece on this blog (or my old one as far as I can recall) specifically about Arts, arts funding, arts policy, etc, I’ve done a few on music, film, TV and the like. As with most people, I have an interest in and enjoyment of many things that would fall under this category. I’ve also noticed a few times on different threads that comments have been made by readers which touch on Arts policy or funding in more direct ways, so I thought enough readers would be interested in the topic. (Hopefully the original author doesn’t mind my giving greater prominence to his thoughts, with the greater potential for public criticism that comes with them. Please keep in mind they were put together as off the cuff comments, not as a fully polished article.
I am a Brisbane high school drama teacher and often use Big Brother and its methodology of constructing dramatic elements to keep its viewing audience attached to the program (yes reality TV popularism can be useful when trying to teach how tension can be manipulated in Shakespeare or Ibsen or Williamson or Brecht!!)
What concerns me is the lessening of funding going into Australian content and Australian produced films and dramas. Yes we have the Australia Council and the Australian Film Corporation and commercial networks and the ABC etc etc, but what is alarming is this current government’s reduction in real funding since 1996 into culture and keeping Australian talent in work and giving Australian writers and producers and directors a fair chance. I personally love Big Brother as much as I love Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night – it is still art and has a social, political and entertainment purpose. But what I would like to see mentioned in Parliament is the fact that the Arts and culture industry in Australia is the biggest growth area in the economy and provides the most employment opportunities than any other industry – yet when it’s election time, culture and Australian culture and artistry policy is placed into pigeon holes by the press gallery as a token gesture to having to have a policy on it. (and yet the most flourishing times economically in history e.g. the Renaissance, were also the most flourishing times in terms of Arts and culture)
Now we have Honey We’re Killing the Kids (more doom and gloom reality TV) and less “drama” – because it costs more in times of economic rationalism to create fictional Australian drama which deals with these core issues of family health and diets and childhood obesity, yet a mini series for instance about this would attract equal ratings I’d suggest.
And furthermore, within my professional ranks we are outraged (the Qld and Australian Drama Education Association) that the Federal Government in its nationalisation of the curriculum campaign is seriously considering leaving the Arts OUT of essential core learnings in schools (yet the Arts has its own specific literacies for students (particularly emotional and critical literacies – but who needs those when you can be sterile in conservative times and whip up a Powerpoint presentation instead).
I suppose this posting is getting a little all over the place but the comments made on this website about media content about culture and about democratic rights and in effect “learning through the Arts” in any shape or form (yes even in Big Brother there is something to learn about human behaviour), I have grave concerns for where we are heading as a nation in what I see as the KEY and CENTRAL policy issues that lie at the heart of a nation – education and culture. I still read from time to time the most inspiring of all cultural policies I’ve ever read in my life – Paul Keating’s “Creative nation”. It seems that if Howard gets his way, schools will not be creating “creative” minds anymore. Instead we will have amazing scientists who may solve the problems of our society today in health and the environment e.g. cancer and global warming etc but not the creative or problem solving minds to do so or find out and interrogate more.
Just some late night thoughts from a tired school teacher :)