ET TU, AUNTY?

23/05/2012 at 1:18 pm Leave a comment

After copping a blast of criticism last September for axing the grassroots arts program Art Nation from the Sunday arvo slot on ABC1; it must have been nice for the Managing Director Mark Scott to pull a few strings and get a full column from his old haunting ground the Fairfax press to defend his decisions.  It would be really great to have that kind of resource at your disposal when you’re obviously so passionate about the arts in this country, to be able to reach out to your audience en masse and explain, regretfully that: “The loss of a 30-minute Sunday afternoon arts magazine program with an audience in significant decline should not be conflated with the end of arts programming.”  Of course not, just the end of arts programming on a Sunday afternoon.

In fact, he goes on to boost our morale by suggesting: 

“ABC TV’s decision to end the Sunday afternoon slot and shift arts stories into prime time should be seen for what it is: a chance for the ABC to connect this content with as wide an audience as possible.”

Fantastic!  We can accept the unfortunate loss of one dedicated local arts program, surely, if it means being able to push the wide creative pursuits into a more accessible timeslot. The significant uproar from the arts community at the time would be silenced (one assumed) when this promised “heavy lifting for the arts” became manifest… Benefit of the Doubt is the rule in cricket for the player at bat – so why not give them a chance to prove they can provide coverage that matches the vibrancy of our creative cultures?  

So we waited, patiently, as the various programming announcements were made for Twenty-Twelve; the gala presentations, the launch parties all went by with barely a whisper of what was to bless our screens in the arts world.  With all the excitement surrounding their comedy programs (such as the Adam-Hills-weekly-in-joke-experience, or whatever-it-is-Josh-Thomas-has-cooked-up) we mused that something BIG might be lurking in the background for the arts sector to be so blatantly left out of these clearly very important programming choices. Upon Inquiry we were informed by (whoever does the @ABCTV twitter feed) that “there’s a new season of Artery coming up”.

Well, yes, we knew that.  But where are these big prime time Arts Programs that were promised? To make such a big fuss over Adam Hills (whose interview skills leave a lot to be desired) disposable TV, after assuring us “We can do better” for the arts – then just act as though nothing has changed?  

Mark Scott – that’s OUT. No more benefit of the doubt, you’re caught in your own spin. You put it up there, in your mate’s paper in black and white: “We want the ABC to live up to its charter role ”to encourage and promote the musical, dramatic and other performing arts in Australia” in the most relevant way possible”.  We waited for a press release.  An Announcement. A prime-time arts program. A token gesture. Anything to prove you weren’t just mincing words to get everyone off your back. 

They will point towards the Patrick White documentary screened last night, 10PM  on a weekday.  The title of the doco?  “Will anyone read me when I’m dead?”  Do we need to point out the irony of putting this on in the middle of the night? Sure it’s on iView but where is the publicity for it?  When you say “our programmers and schedulers need the freedom to innovate and challenge; to search for better ways to engage the audience.”  Is this what you mean?   Challenge and engage the audience by putting up a ninety minute repeat of a British Agatha Christie remake in the prime time slot and the Australian arts documentary at 10:05? No slur against David Suchet but who the fuck do you think you’re fooling?

There’s a place for Agatha Christie (we suppose), there’s a place for Adam Hills pretending to interview comedians, there’s even a place for your increasingly lowbrow political commentary, just as there’s a place for lawn bowls… All of these are vital cogs in Australian culture.  But don’t act like you’re doing the right thing by the arts when YOU CLEARLY ARE NOT.

Cultural Traitors get a special place on our wall of shame, because they act like they’re all cool with art and music and hey let’s do a Nick Cave retrospective to show we care about the arts; when really they’re a massive part of the problem. I have better things to do than publish angry letters to those who pretend to support the arts with one hand while they strip back the means to do so with the other. So meanwhile I await the list of prime time arts coverage that will prove me wrong.  All rights of reply to my assertions will be published in full.   now GET.

sancz out.

 

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Entry filed under: Sydney THEATRE.

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VICTOR SANCZ vassanc [AT] gmail.com

since 2009

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