While not an official analysis (you can go here for that), a valued Arts Party member sent us this amusing op-ed for the coming election voting choices. We enjoyed it; we hope you do too. Over to The Rambunctious Opinionator!
“The difference between art and life is that art is more bearable” – Charles Bukowski.
I do love a good paraphrase, so I’ll start with: The difference between Art and Politics is that Art is more bearable, except on election night when politics kicks arse! But what of art AND politics? Let’s consider this blend’s potency within various parties:
After getting belted in 2011, after 16 years in power, NSW Labor looked like they would be kept in the darkness for at least a decade or two (and some of those ex-ministers are unlikely to see the light of day for some time through those barred windows). Now they suddenly appear to be numero uno! Comrades, did I go too far? Not long ago, Luke Foley was just making up the numbers and there was little chance of him becoming premier, but due to allegations he sexually harassed an ABC journalist he “ceremoniously” quit and now Michael Daley is top dog. Whilst there are a few ghosts in his cupboard, to date he has performed exceptionally well and his recent on air spat with Alan ‘the Parrot’ Jones regarding the demolition of Allianze Stadium has given him a bit of a boost. But seriously, polls are showing it’s neck and neck between the two major parties, although the betting agencies are giving a slight edge to the incumbents with Gladys Berejiklian at the helm.
With just over one week to go it could go either way. If I had to punt on it, I’d sadly guess the current government will eke through with a few seats, late into the evening count, with a small… tiny… minuscule majority. Of course, this will do little for the current federal (or should that be feral) government, who will be given a spanking like no other a couple of months later at the federal polls. But alas, one election at a time.
Whilst I completely understand that the Arts is only one area of note when voting at any election, I am writing this for The Arts Party. Therefore, it’s my duty to suggest who you might like to vote for, considering which parties are promoting and protecting the arts.
So… let’s talk Arts and Politics. Right off the bat, I’d put The Liberal-National Coalition (LNC) last. Not second last, totally last place. I know! You’re in the booth and you really want to put either the hard-core right-wing or hard-core left-wing parties last but… think about it. In the time the Liberal party have been in power, they have decimated Sydney nightlife with the Sydney Lockout Laws. Aimed at reducing violence (which, don’t get me wrong, is a fantastic idea), this poorly thought out decision has led to the closures of many venues in the Sydney CBD, yet the Casino is still open 24/7. This in turn has negatively affected live bands and performers. Some ‘too little, too late’ adjustments have been made to allow live venues to remain open longer, but this has done little to reverse the destruction of the live music scene in Sydney. The LNC also appear hell-bent on destroying music and arts with their current war on festivals. In response to a number of tragic drug-related incidents at some music festivals, the NSW government has imposed a range of ill-conceived measures on festival organisers, including outrageous hikes in user-pay policing fees plus strict new licensing measures. Whilst safety is paramount, it feels like an over reach and easy cash grab by the NSW government. Some festivals, such as Byron Bay’s Bluesfest, have threatened to move interstate whilst others have stated they may have to close completely. It’s easy to see festivals as being mostly music events but they encompass and celebrate an array of arts from theatre, sculpture, street-performance, busking, art installations, film, writing… the list is endless. In some ways, festivals are the life blood of the arts in this country. One bright note on Arts Policy is the introduction of a scheme which allows funding of $100 per child towards pursuing an artistic endeavour. Little Johnny or Susie can learn trumpet for five weeks before the cash runs out! But, it’s something. It’s also important to note they have existing policies in place like Sydney Opera House’s ‘Renewal’ and the Riverside Theatre redevelopment. They are not complete philistines, but art is not their focus. They continue to neglect the importance of innovation and creativity, exemplified by their intention to blow $729 Million on rebuilding a stadium that doesn’t need rebuilding. Their priorities are all wrong, folks.
So, what does Labor have to offer? Sadly, they have no intention of changing the Lockout Laws, which is depressing. But, if they manage to sneak home then they have promised to double regional arts support, keep the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo and increase support for Western Sydney. Additionally, they will provide funding to assist live music with soundproofing and create a new licensing scheme, so that newbies to the area can’t whine about noise (even though the venue might have been there for a century) and hold live venues to ransom. Said newbies will have a one stop shop for noise complaints so as Baz Luhrmann stated there’s “Something for Everyone”. Labor will create a new type of venue license that will make it easier for approvals of these types of venues. Some other areas of note are: a doubling of the Regional Culture Fund, providing funding to public libraries, the introduction of a regional conservatorium fund to support music (including bringing the Sydney Symphony Orchestra to regional areas), investment in the creation of a new cultural institution in Western Sydney, supporting screen and TV production, as well as supporting playwriting and theatrical productions. In going through the list, other than a couple of big-ticket items, it feels like they have done just enough to show they are doing more than the current mob without doing a huge amount more. Some thought out policies but not a significant amount of investment into innovation and creativity when you really think about it. But, as mentioned, there’s “Something for Everyone”.
Let’s talk about The Greens. The latest polling is showing that 1 in 4 NSW voters will vote outside of the major parties this election. The Greens should be ecstatic, but recent issues have knocked them about and they are also not feeling a lot of love from the public. It’s possible we may have a hung parliament, so the Greens may have the swinging vote. But the important question is: What do they say about Arts funding? Well if imitation is the most sincere form of flattery then The Arts Party is blushing. But they talk an awful lot about funding the arts but they don’t give any funding figures. So, whilst it’s great they are willing to talk about it a lot, it would be much better if they stipulated what they would spend money on. I do get it though. They know they won’t be ‘holding the purse strings’, so why waste time on putting figures together? In fairness, it’s reasonable to expect they will support the Arts if somehow, in some way, they got into power.
Now to the next contender: Keep Sydney Open. I think it’s clear what they stand for but let us delve further. If I was either of the two major parties, I’d be a little concerned about the quick way they set up. I believe they will have an impact on election night. Not necessarily in winning seats but perhaps through preferencing others who might. They intend to: End the Lockouts, Invest in Music and Culture, No More Nanny’s… Sorry, No More Nanny State (Thankfully, as once we start partying all night long we will need more nannies), Save our Festivals (again more nannies needed), and finally Protect Our Venues and Heritage. In short, they intend to undo all the harm the incumbents have done and then take a ‘Metallica Drinks Rider’ approach, and then throw a few televisions out of the window for good measure. They don’t have a Berocca policy, which really is a mistake on their part. But in all seriousness, this is your best bet if you’re a city dweller, but it doesn’t offer much for those in regional NSW.
Other parties summed up:
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers: A big fat NADA for the Arts, but they do have a Correctional Officers Policy. So… there’s that.
Christian Democratic Party: I think they have a Happy Clapper Policy, but I’d have to double check!
One Nation: Okay, I feel dirty now! But seriously what do they have to offer? Mark Latham? Hmmm… ugh. Besides that, there does not appear to be an Arts policy per se, but hey they do have a No Islamic Full Face Covering Policy! It’s going to be hard to not put them last, let’s be honest!
The rest: Whilst there are many other parties who have a varying range of policies, they don’t have much in the way of Arts policies, so I have snubbed them! Fare thee well ungrateful hoards!
In finishing, I think we have to go with… drum rolllllllllll – Keep Sydney Open, and Labor in second place. And… maybe put One Nation last as I really couldn’t bear Mark Latham’s smug face on election night!
Now remember folks, Vote 1 for the party that will do the most for the Arts.
The Rambunctious Opinionator