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Sydney Opera House during this year’s Vivid Festival: now, more than ever, we need artists to tell us the truth. Tibor Kovacs/Flickr

Friday essay: the arts and our still-born national identity

There was once a sense of excitement about creating a genuinely Australian culture and making our own way in the world. What's happened to that optimism?
David Bowie was the master of reinvention. Can the arts sector follow suit? Brandon Carson/Flickr

Can the arts sector reinvent itself?

A culture of 'managerialism' has bled the arts of originality and purpose. We need a changed mindset and an arts and culture think-tank that is separate from the Australia Council.
Why can’t an artist offer advice to politicians in the same way a scientist can? David Gray/Reuters

Why Australia needs a Chief Artist

In one of those abyssal silences that punctuate official Thinkfests when artists have to come up with new policy ideas that don’t involve asking governments for more money, I once facetiously suggested…
The Mexican artist Diego Rivera was an early contributor to the Pago en Especie program, which allows artists to pay tax with art. Detail of the Rivera mural El hombre en cruce de caminos (1934). Wikimedia Commons

Should artists pay their taxes in art?

Many Australian artists eke out a living, yet government funding is generally heading backwards. Can we learn from Mexico, where artists are allowed to pay tax in paintings or sculptures in lieu of cash?

No (is a one word poem)

In the words of Jimmy Porter in Look Back in Anger, “the injustice of it is almost perfect”. Last week, Jason Potts argued here that the cuts made to around 60 cultural organisations under the Australia…
Something seems to be missing in the Australian art world. French Street theatre company performing at the Santiago a Mil International Theatre Festival - Ivan Alvarado/Reuters

Australia’s arts community has a big diversity problem – that’s our loss

Diversity is a vital part of a thriving art sector, yet only 8% of professional Australian artists come from a non-English speaking background. How can we beat "diversity fatigue"?
Senator Scott Ludlam said changes to arts funding will mean the minister will not need to publicly reveal funding recipients. True or false? AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

FactCheck: will the Arts Minister need to publicly disclose who he funds?

The Greens' Senator Scott Ludlam said changes to arts funding will mean arts minister George Brandis won't need to publicly disclose who he's funding. He said it's unbelievable -- but is it true?
We need to consider what balance we want to achieve between the heritage and contemporary arts. AAP Image/Julian Smith. Artists of the Australian Ballet rehearse for the The Dream.

Majors and the majority: planning for Australia’s artistic legacy starts now

Given the pressure being applied to the majority of people working in the arts sector, we would be foolish not to consider the roles and inherited rights of Australia's major performing companies.
The capricious nature of this government’s approach to arts funding promises very rich pickings. chiaralily

Beyond the inquiry: some notes on effective strategy to free the arts

A motion in favour of a Senate Inquiry into the establishment of a National Programme for Excellence in the Arts has been passed. What more can be done by those artists and arts organisations lobbying against unpopular changes to arts funding?
The evidence of cultural consumption and production in Australia does not bear out the claims made by Senator Brandis. AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

Philosophy vs evidence is no way to orchestrate cultural policy

What is the premise of recently-announced cuts to Australia Council funding, and the establishment of a National Programme for Excellence in the Arts? There is actually a considerable evidence base from which to form policy decisions in Australian arts funding.
Gary Foley has been driven by a lifelong project of sharpening his own intellect, realising the political force behind ideas and sharing them with others. Gary Foley

Tony Birch on Gary Foley: ‘a direct and fiercely intellectual man’

Tonight Gary Foley will be awarded the Red Ochre Award for his lifetime contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts. He is a more complicated figure than the one we are sometimes presented with.
The overhaul of arts funding has left the sector in shock – with many looking for clues as to how George Brandis’ new arts funding body with work in practice. Tom_Allan/Flickr

How Brandis plans to insulate the arts sector from the artists

The arts sector has been shocked by cuts to the Australia Council – but details about the new National Program for Excellence in the Arts are in short supply. What do we know about George Brandis's vision for the arts?

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