Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 2 Hansard (21 May) . . Page.. 498 ..
MR WOOD (continuing):
Poor old PhotoAccess does a great job, but it is really not in the best circumstances over there at the ANU. I think we need to find a better site for that. I was saying that too when I was Minister for the Arts. The Crafts Council would benefit if it had a better building - one that did not flood periodically and one that was closer to mainstream activity. So I put in a plug for some more capital works.
Nevertheless, our focus must be on the extraordinary talent that is so well highlighted in this book. Capital expenditure is fine, but it is not all that we have to do. We have to support individual artists and performers, and their organisations and their companies. In doing so, we have to respond to the community which wants that entertainment and which wants those experiences. At the same time we have to challenge that community because it is a two-way process. We are entertained, so we must respond. If we want this entertainment, we have to back it up. For example, we have to turn some of that large number of people who go to the NGA blockbusters to our own gallery and to our own commercial galleries in Canberra, which are of a very high standard. We have to encourage a buy local campaign.
Let me commend what the Crafts Council has been doing. It has put out some excellent publications, significant works as well as smaller stuff, including last year a pamphlet indicating where Canberra's commercial galleries are. They have done a very good job. The School of Art does a good job. I think our own arts bureaucrats also, over a long period, have done a good job. Mr Humphries, when he was Minister, saw to it that we had a writers centre established. That was a relatively small project; but, given the importance of writers in the ACT, and there are a very large number of would-be writers, that was a very important initiative.
Of course, most of what has to be done to get audiences, to get local people more involved, to go and to see and to listen, has to be done by the performers, the artists, the groups themselves, and that is by producing quality work. That is the first requirement. But quality work alone is no guarantee of public support. I am sure we have all been to some great performances that have fallen through with poor attendances. There is a backup by the Government. We have to see that those organisational structures, the philosophical foundations and appropriate funding are all there. The Cultural Council must be coming towards the end of its process of review of its cultural policies. That cannot be too far away now. That is a very good and important process to have been working through. We will be most interested to see the result in the end.
There is one other area of importance, and that is administration. I have seen, and I am sure others have seen, very good creative efforts by groups or by individuals not backed up by good administration, so a company may fall through. That may have been the case with Skylark. I know the Chief Minister and the arts people are looking at whether we can save something from the ashes of Skylark. I thought their management was good - they were good people - but somehow most significant difficulties emerged.
The Muse magazine has a very good management, in my view. Perhaps confusion between messages has created a temporary problem for it whereby it is likely to lose some of its funding. I hear, on the one hand, that bureaucrats believe that Muse had been told that funding would be diminished. On the other hand, Muse tells me they did not know