state of Australian culture

Someone just alerted me to the fantastic series New Matilda has been running on the state of Australian culture, a discussion that dovetails nicely with some of the pieces Overland has published recently. The most recent piece by Ben Eltham is particularly good. He writes:

The consistent issue running through the “state of the cultural nation” series published here on has been that of transformation. All of the sectors discussed are facing significant changes of various kinds — and in general, cultural policy has failed to keep up.

This isn’t exactly a new thing, nor is a failure of policy to match cultural strengths just a matter of staying current. Beyond recognising the new, in some areas our policy and our conversations have continuously failed to recognise what’s actually been there all along.

For instance, in cultural funding terms, the “great Australian silence” towards the richness and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures criticised by anthrolopologist W.E.H. Stanner still continues. While some of the oldest living forms of music in the world slowly die out in central Australia, our national arts funding and policy body, the Australia Council for the Arts, gives more money to the Sydney Symphony Orchestra than it does to its entire Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board.

You can access other articles in the series through the New Matilda front page.

Jeff Sparrow

Jeff Sparrow is a Walkley Award-winning writer, broadcaster and former editor of Overland.

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