Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 11 Hansard (14 November) . . Page.. 3414..
DR FOSKEY (continuing):
actors in Australia are able to earn a living by doing what they are trained for and what they love to do and what they do best?
So what can we do here in the ACT? I am not suggesting we set up a permanent local theatre company at this point, though I think that is the ideal and we should work towards it. The Chief Minister, who is also Minister for the Arts, loves giving prizes—poetry prizes, and you cannot say anything but that the selection of a particular sculpture is a kind of prize. I will have more to say about that particular way of commissioning artworks later because that is something the arts community has commented on and I do not know whether Mr Stanhope has heard it.
But why not offer a prize—annually but certainly for the centenary—for the best script that is based on a Canberra story? We know Canberra stories are diverse. Not only are we people like everywhere else but we are the seat of national government. I just remind people of a novel by Sara Dowse that was produced in the eighties called West Block, which probably epitomised the sort of Canberra essence plus human personalities and interactions. Choose the script for the award of a prize and then give that scriptwriter a grant of money to develop that script to production stage—not only paying the scriptwriter to do that but also paying the director and the actors. That would be great. We could use the Street Theatre.
I might add, by the way, that Canberra Theatre is not known for putting on local works. But why not then tour this work to local regional towns such as Cooma, Goulburn—towns that have a reasonable centre? I can tell you that they do not get much live theatre outside Canberra. We are actually quite blessed, but I think we could share it. And then why not tour it to Melbourne and Sydney to inform them about Canberra? Remember that Canberra stories would be the theme.
We would have to set up some terms of reference so that the judges could choose a play that was not only excellent quality dramatically, but told a story about Canberra that we want to tell to the world, because Canberra does not get a very good press out there—not just in the region but in other capital cities. That is not our fault. But I think it is time we showed the ordinariness of Canberra people through our art—and we are blessed with fabulous musicians, actors, directors, dancers and all the other arts; I have no intention of leaving anybody out of this. So this is an idea. I am prepared to hand it on to the Chief Minister and I would like to hear what he has to say about it.
Furthermore, on the development of competition entries for sculpture prizes, the arts community reminds people that artists are some of the poorest people in Australia. They have to spend money developing those entries. Many people did not do so because they could not afford it—and this is something to remember when we decide to select our art the cheap way by creating a competition.
MR PRATT (Brindabella) (6.21): By the way, in response to that stirring rendition from Ms MacDonald about the union movement and how proud she is, I would like to