Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 2 Hansard (21 May) . . Page.. 508 ..
MR BERRY (continuing):
There should never be strings attached too tightly to arts funding. It struck me a few years ago when I had the opportunity to visit the Prado in Madrid. It was very interesting to walk through that great edifice and see all of the masters on display. The thing that most impressed me was how they were the captives of their benefactors. For many of them that was the church and they were, in effect, the vehicle for the message from the church. That impressed upon me the need to ensure that at any time that I have anything to say about the arts I say something about the need for independence in order to ensure that the arts are able to express themselves as they develop. Their messages might not always be consistent with their government benefactors, but that should never impede the level of funding that goes to the arts. They have to have a level of independence that might not be provided to any other bodies in society. For very different reasons, their independence needs to be secured.
It is fundamental to the development of the arts for them to be independent. If they are funded from private sector sources it is quite likely that they will be the captives of their benefactor, and you would somehow expect that. But, when it comes to the Government, we have to be extremely careful that in our dealings with the arts we do not tie the strings too tightly. If we do, I think we will restrict the development of the arts, and therefore we will restrict the development of our community.
MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Mr Smyth, you have about seven minutes.
MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (4.26): Mr Deputy Speaker, I thank you for the seven minutes. I would like to start by acknowledging that I think the future of the arts in the ACT is tremendous, simply because in this place they have so many champions. It would be fair to say that the new Arts Minister will put all her energy into that portfolio, as she normally does. I acknowledge that the previous Arts Minister, Mr Humphries, was able to complete the Tuggeranong Community Arts Centre.
I acknowledge the mover of this motion and thank him for giving all of us here in the Assembly the opportunity to speak of the arts. I have seen Bill at functions for many years, from the smallest of poetry launches to the opening of the Playhouse, and I acknowledge his contribution there. John Hargreaves, over the years, has put a lot of effort into things like the Tuggeranong Community Festival, which has always had an arts component. Already I see newcomers like Mr Rugendyke being sucked into the arts here in the ACT. You see Dave at functions like the Smith Family art launch last night, and I have seen him at other functions.
I would acknowledge Kerrie's interest in the way that community building is done through the arts. Kerrie raised an interesting point when she said that we should integrate the arts into other departments. I think that actually happens in the ACT. You only have to look at the new Tuggeranong Police Station. Instead of being something out of Port Arthur, with steel bars and much foreboding, when you walk into the entrance there is this wonderful mural. I think that is a great attempt to integrate art. I would assume that Urban Services built the Tuggeranong Town Park footpath, which is quite artistic in that members of the community were allowed to make their own pavers. Some of these pavers have messages scratched onto them and some of them have pictures scanned onto them somehow. I am not sure what the process was, but we have this community footpath which is great.