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Analysis and Comment (34)

We need to break beyond operatic exclamations. We need to break beyond operatic exclamations. Wikimedia Commons

The problem with arts advocacy is the people in power

“Wouldn’t you just die without Mahler?” This classic line from Willy Russell’s Educating Rita, spoken by the broken aesthete Trish, signifies both main character Rita’s entry into the realms of cultured…
The Last of Us is as gripping as many of the films you’ll see in the cinema. The Last of Us is as gripping as many of the films you’ll see in the cinema. PlayStation Europe

We’ve delivered our Citizen Kane, now give gaming an Oscars ceremony

Hollywood’s most celebrated actors, actresses and directors are, by now, finalising their outfits and having their manicures in preparation for the impending Oscars ceremony on 2 March. It’s considerably…
It’s time to wake up to London’s cultural dominance. It’s time to wake up to London’s cultural dominance. shutterstock

Hard Evidence: does London get too much arts funding?

London has 15.4%, one eighth, of the population of England. It is well known that London receives a disproportionate amount of UK arts subsidies, but perhaps not the vast extent of this. Our independently…
Larkin about: the people of Hull celebrate their city’s victory. Larkin about: the people of Hull celebrate their city’s victory. Anna Gowthorpe/PA

Larkin, Ronson and 26 reasons why Hull is UK City of Culture

Kingston-upon-Hull has been named the UK City of Culture for 2017; a spotlight has been thrown on a place that many people either don’t really know much about, sometimes falling prey to typical Home Counties…
With the right policy levers, Australia’s next big boom could be creative by design. With the right policy levers, Australia’s next big boom could be creative by design. Sebastiaan ter Burg

The creative economy could fuel Australia’s next boom

Australia is richly blessed with an abundance of resources which, along with robust legal, business and political infrastructure, has allowed it to pull through tough times on several occasions. As we…
Reed, who died today, knew how to place himself at the centre. Reed, who died today, knew how to place himself at the centre. Mick Tsikas/AAP

Transformer: the other faces of Lou Reed

The plaudits have arrived very quickly for Lou Reed, who has died aged 71. He is clearly regarded as a towering figure, credited with playing a central role in creating one of the most influential albums…
Artist Alice Evans lies on the streets of Edinburgh, but she’s OK really. Artist Alice Evans lies on the streets of Edinburgh, but she’s OK really. Danny Lawson/PA

Despite bad headlines, the arts in Britain aren’t dead yet

Playwright Mark Ravenhill’s provocative opening speech at this year’s Edinburgh Festival outlined a doomsday scenario where public funding for the arts disappeared and Britain descended into a cultural…
Encouraging live music through initiatives such as the newly-announced National Live Music Office makes good social, cultural and economic sense. Encouraging live music through initiatives such as the newly-announced National Live Music Office makes good social, cultural and economic sense. shutterstock

Keeping music live: government’s Live Music Office should be welcomed

Federal arts minister Tony Burke this week announced the government’s commitment to setting up a National Live Music Office. Burke said the taskforce will: …partner with governments, local councils, communities…
Fact meets fiction. Fact meets fiction. Ian S

Tragic realism: the rise of Mexican narcoliterature

Crime fiction has become a truly global genre. Books based in Reykjavik, Oslo, or Barcelona now vie with home-grown works set in more recognisable, down-at-heel locations like Manchester or Northampton…
Despite myths to the contrary, humanities graduates can enjoy their passions and look forward to job opportunities too. Despite myths to the contrary, humanities graduates can enjoy their passions and look forward to job opportunities too. Student image from www.shutterstock.com

Honing the mind and nurturing the soul: why the humanities are underrated

As a vice chancellor, I conducted many graduation ceremonies and welcomed scores of proud graduates to the fellowship of educated men and women. One regular feature of these ceremonies was a queue of students…
Namatjira, by Imants Tillers, which won the 2013 Wynne Prize. Namatjira, by Imants Tillers, which won the 2013 Wynne Prize. Art Gallery of NSW

Times change but the art establishment rolls on

It was the 1960s when a curator – who shall remain nameless – was ordered to hang Aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira’s work in his gallery. He hung the painting next to the ladies toilet with a vase of…
Simon Crean has set out a forward-looking proposal for the future of Australian arts. But will it last? Simon Crean has set out a forward-looking proposal for the future of Australian arts. But will it last? AAP/Alan Porritt

National cultural policy is bold, but vulnerable

The first major national cultural policy in 19 years was unveiled by Minister for the Arts Simon Crean yesterday. Minister Crean has called it “a national cultural policy for the decade.” Uncharitable…
Opera Australia and the Sydney Opera House need to work together to secure opera’s future. Opera Australia and the Sydney Opera House need to work together to secure opera’s future. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

How Australian opera lost the plot

It was built for the art form but you’d be forgiven for thinking the Sydney Opera House is a little ashamed of opera. Months go by without any mention of opera performances on the Opera House’s Facebook…
A high number of artists and writers meet the diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder. A high number of artists and writers meet the diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder. Eddi van W.

Bipolar disorder and creativity are linked (but not by some mad genius)

Does some fine madness yield great artists, writers, and scientists? The evidence is growing for a significant link between bipolar disorder and creative temperament and achievement. People with bipolar…
No war was photographed like Vietnam and many of these images still speak to us today. No war was photographed like Vietnam and many of these images still speak to us today. Photographer: Michael Coleridge. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial EKN/67/0130/VN.

The photographer’s war: Vietnam through a lens

An unprecedented level of media coverage made the Vietnam war a watershed moment in the discipline of photography. The images by official military photographers, photojournalists, and individual soldiers…
Art history is falling out of favour with universities but why? We need to look at the reasons behind this change. Art history is falling out of favour with universities but why? We need to look at the reasons behind this change. AAP Image/Warren Clarke

Falling for future-porn: the demise of art history and the rise of university marketing

The impending closure of art history at La Trobe University has drawn sharp criticism from academics. They have pointed out that students enjoy art history: it is economical, has enduring value and demonstrably…
The true value of art cannot be measured by economic standards. The true value of art cannot be measured by economic standards. Flickr/TruShu

Game of funds: return of the culture wars?

In 2012, public debate over the value of art and culture has reignited as conservative state governments in Victoria and Queensland cut arts funding from their budgets. Queensland Premier Campbell Newman’s…
Cutting the art history department at La Trobe university is short-sighted. Cutting the art history department at La Trobe university is short-sighted. AAP Image/Julian Smith

Save art history: why La Trobe needs to support cultural life in Australia

La Trobe university’s art history department is set to be abolished, with a consultation period over the changes to the university’s humanities program to end this month. While one art history department…
Australia has to take the initiative if we want to build a relationship with Asia based on the arts. Australia has to take the initiative if we want to build a relationship with Asia based on the arts. AAP

Finding a place on the Asian stage

WHAT IS AUSTRALIA FOR? Australia is no longer small, remote or isolated. It’s time to ask What Is Australia For?, and to acknowledge the wealth of resources we have beyond mining. Over the next two weeks…
Courageous dissent? “The MTC is patting itself on the back for staging The Heretic. But the MTC is not being bold … it is being cowardly.” Courageous dissent? “The MTC is patting itself on the back for staging The Heretic. But the MTC is not being bold … it is being cowardly.” Flickr/Carlton Browne

Heretic: Melbourne Theatre Company runs with the goons

Who would have thought the Melbourne Theatre Company would get into bed with Andrew Bolt? The MTC’s new play The Heretic, which premieres on 17 May, tells the story of climate scientist Dr Diane Cassell…
Mitchell has been investigating ways to get Australians to give more to the arts. Mitchell has been investigating ways to get Australians to give more to the arts. AAP/Alan Porritt

Philanthropy and the arts – Harold Mitchell’s review will create a bigger funding pool

Harold Mitchell’s review of private sector arts support is a bit like Ian Thorpe in his swimming heyday. He’s a big presence, and has dived in with a determined goal and a strategy to win “gold” for the…

End of year report (letter to Hisham)

The following is a poem commissioned by The Conversation from Sydney City Poet, Kate Middleton on the year that was. Did you read about the MARS-500 simulation? Six men in isolation sharing a broken English…
aapone file switzerland britain literature julian barnes original. aapone file switzerland britain literature julian barnes original.

Julian Barnes' Sense of an Ending a ‘fine and curious’ short novel

Julian Barnes’ 11th novel represents an interesting choice for the judges of this year’s Booker Prize, and it goes without saying that a prize like this is always going to arouse criticism and even controversy…
It’s fourth time lucky for Julian Barnes in the Booker Prize. It’s fourth time lucky for Julian Barnes in the Booker Prize. EPA/Alessandro Della Bella

Booker victory for Julian Barnes but should the focus be on ‘readability’?

Julian Barnes today won the Man Booker Prize for his novel about a childhood friendship and the fragility of memory, The Sense of an Ending. This is the fourth time he’s been nominated, and Barnes declared…
Ballet Revolucion perform in Perth - one of Australia’s most culturally affordable cities. Ballet Revolucion perform in Perth - one of Australia’s most culturally affordable cities. AAP

How the NBN can help bridge our geographical cultural divide

Australia’s dispersed population and its vast tyrannies of distance has created a major, ongoing, cultural divide. The relative costs of consuming culture between bush and city are starkly skewed in favour…
Art nation: Australia is developing a new national cultural policy to position us for the next decade. Art nation: Australia is developing a new national cultural policy to position us for the next decade. AAP

Where the jobs are: why a national cultural policy matters

Australia is on a promise to develop a National Cultural Policy, the first since Creative Nation in 1994. Minister for the Arts Simon Crean has released a discussion paper designed to examine how Australia…
Art galleries need to measure visitors' engagement with modern works, like this one by Tomas Saraceno at the Museum for Contemporary Art in Berlin. Art galleries need to measure visitors' engagement with modern works, like this one by Tomas Saraceno at the Museum for Contemporary Art in Berlin. EPA/Maurizio Gambarini

A radical rethink: Redesigning art for the contemporary world

There seems little doubt that the rise of widespread international interest and investment in contemporary art and contemporary art museums has stimulated a demand for diverse and compelling programs that…
Ben Quilty’s portrait of Margaret Olley won the Archibald Prize this year. Ben Quilty’s portrait of Margaret Olley won the Archibald Prize this year. Art Gallery of New South Wales: www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au

Margaret Olley: the artist, philanthropist and friend

Margaret Olley, one of Australia’s best known artists, has died at her home in Sydney. She was 88. The Conversation asked Christopher Menz, the Acting Director of the Ian Potter Museum of Art at University…
Under the Milky Way is an iconic Australian song. Under the Milky Way is an iconic Australian song. flickr/Doug Klembara

You probably think this song is about you, don’t you?

Sometimes we just get sucked into a story. Reason, caution and scepticism sometimes just get swiftly sidelined for a story that’s captivating. And sometimes, along the gay girl in Syria, Colorado balloon…
Kim Scott’s tale of early settler relations has been applauded by the literary community. Kim Scott’s tale of early settler relations has been applauded by the literary community. The Trust Company

Kim Scott leaves competition for dead in all-male Miles Franklin win

Western Australian author Kim Scott won the Miles Franklin Literary Award for the second time last night with his fifth novel, That Deadman Dance. Described by one judge as “post-reconciliation” fiction…
Copied From Nature by Victor Brauner (1903) Copied From Nature by Victor Brauner (1903) AAP

The art of conversation

Conversation is civilized speech. It is more purposeful than chatter; more humane than gossip; more intimate than debate. But it is an elusive ideal. In our verbal exchanges we often flip from one topic…
Chris Lilley’s Gran character is written too large to be ignored. Chris Lilley’s Gran character is written too large to be ignored. ABC Television publicity

Mockumentary’s ‘beautiful confusion’ animates Chris Lilley’s Angry Boys

Last night’s premiere of Chris Lilley’s third mockumentary series, Angry Boys, was a reminder that television comedy in Australia as we once knew it has changed forever. In the wake of the popular successes…
Ben Quilty’s “Margaret Olley” has divided the critics. Ben Quilty’s “Margaret Olley” has divided the critics. Art Gallery of New South Wales: www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au

Archibald argy bargy as Ben Quilty wins populist prize

This year’s Archibald prize has gone to Ben Quilty’s portrait of Australian artist Margaret Olley. It’s an award often criticised for being populist or irrelevant, and there’s no reason to think that this…

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