Sitting back in the bath reading a book with my glass of wine, yes, I know, tad clichéd but hey, I work in small business and do horrendous hours and that is how I enjoy ‘my’ time. Pro-Tip: It is a seriously under-rated past-time if you are busy ;-) Anyhow… The book I am currently reading is The Rise and Fall of Australia by Nick Bryant which I purchased due to the fact that as a reporter I always enjoyed Nick’s particular view of what was happening politically in Australia. To be honest, it is also pretty hard for a political tragic like myself to go past a by-line like “How a great nation lost its way”.
Well, Nick pretty much side-swiped me. Yes, I really enjoyed his take on the Howard, Rudd, Gillard, Rudd (again) years, though what made me sit up straight, taking a good hard look at myself was his last chapter “The Cultural Creep”.
Of course there were the typical tall poppy syndrome references, though this man honestly looked at our history of “culture”, how we as Australian’s look at it and pretty much gave us a not so subtle dig about how we are ungrateful sods. I am one of the first to point out that Australia really does punch above it’s weight in a hell of lot more than just movie stars, cricketers and bands - popular music that is of course - as a voracious reader I am very proud of the many authors who have made an impact as Australian’s overseas.
What I was not so proud of, was the litany of musicians (classical that is), artists, architects and more that we should be proud of, should be household names, yet even a reader like myself had no idea they existed. Seriously, names like Les Murray, a contender for the Nobel Prize - not my preferred genre and in the box of ‘vaguely recognise name as important but not really sure who he is…” SIGH! - and Glenn Murcutt or Peter Stutchbury, giants in Architecture, their names did not even ring a bell with me :( I could list more, though this would just highlight my shameful ignorance to the world.
I did of course get the trusty highlighter out and will endeavour in the future to read and educate myself, though it did get me thinking about mainstream Australia and our relationship with Culture and the Arts. I’m not quite sure what the problem is though we all will know a popular Australian Film, not so much an Opera and obviously it is for much smarter people than me to change. Though, I have to wonder, maybe if the less ‘knowledgeable’ were not intimidated if they would partake of some of the wonderful talent that the likes of Nick Bryant points out, who are well respected overseas but not a blip on the radar here in Australia outside of their particular professional circles?
Live theatre is one example I could give. I am a massive fan, go to every performance at my local theatre, have to admit, pretty lucky it is a good one. Though, most of the regulars are ‘knowledgeable’ in theatre, having a drink after the play can be really intimidating when you have a crowd discussing’ “the playwright had an issue with…’; “When I saw this in London…”; “Shame about the actor playing…” and on it goes… If you are not in the loop, it can be daunting.
I am one of those people that wine connoisseurs hate, you know, I like what I like and totally clueless as to pedigree and I approach my live theatre the same way. Apart from the likes of Grease & Rocky Horror Picture Show, not a big fan of musicals, I get to the stage where I want to yell at them to stop singing, I got the hint, get on with it. A good drama or comedy, well, different story, I am normally entranced. Sometimes it may be the language, it could be a particular actor who makes me sit up straight, or it could be the whole shebang. I am also in awe of how in local theatre it can all come together, the number of people who work as volunteers to get a show off the ground, from actors to music, all these people have full time jobs, families, yet still find the time to do something talented night after night, they deserve respect. Now that I am over the age of 40, have an adult child and more confidence, I don’t really give a rats that I may look silly asking a question or admitting I am clueless when having a wine with others after a performance, but I can see how others stay away and it is a shame.
As mentioned, I am lucky, Noosa Arts Theatre which is my local do some wonderful productions and once a year do the One Act Play Festival. Now, this I flog to all and sundry every chance I can get. Three mini plays with a small intermission between each, always a variety of styles - which I suspect the judges think very carefully about to ensure there will be at least one comedy to amuse the uninitiated - and an audience vote to include you which is tallied and awarded separately at the end of the Festival. Over nearly two decades I have encouraged so many, who would not be caught dead at live theatre (insert snobby tone of tosser) to give it a go, nothing to lose, short and sweet, might be one you like. Obviously I must be pretty successful with it as get a few converts every year.
Point is though, I have to ‘encourage’ them. Why? I mean, if you are bored on a Saturday afternoon, a friend says, “Hey got a comedy taped here, want to watch with me?”, you don’t ask for the ducks nuts about it, if you have the time you sit down, flex out and enjoy the show. Why do we not approach the likes of live theatre with the same attitude we would a movie? Why are questions like the above tweet common? I like Football (well Rugby League & Union), I like sport in general, I also like the Arts, why can’t I like both? More importantly, why can’t the ‘Arts’ - all forms of artistic endeavour - be on the same level of importance in our national mind as sport?
I have no answers, like wine, I know what I like, though no bloody idea why, just do... I don’t know if it is because of some of the awful stuff we did in high school back in the day that puts us off, or if it is the high brow ‘vibe’? Why is that we as Australian’s will give so many things ‘a go’ but not so much our culture, our art galleries, our live theatre, our musical performers, writers, architects, you name it that entrance the rest of the world?
Maybe, like my wine analogy, it doesn’t matter how knowledgeable you are or aren’t as regards wine, you still have to have a ‘taste’ of a new one before you can decide if you like it or not? Maybe we all need the actually opportunity of a ‘taste’ of all forms of culture?
Before anyone in the arts gets upset, I am not in any way inferring that we lower the quality or the tone of our culture to the depths of reality TV ARGH! Kill me now at that thought… Though, maybe better promotion, more explanatory programmes, not assuming with advertising content that people already know what the gig is as that is really alienating to the uninitiated?
In a nutshell, maybe if the highbrow tosser ‘arts’ vibe was toned down just a tad AND punters were openly invited to share what so many of the more educated in so-called ‘cultural’ circles have been enjoying for centuries we could all benefit and slowly but surely raise the profile of our cultural achievements to those of our sporting ones? Maybe if Governments gave similar funding to Museums, Galleries, Performing Arts etc as they do to sport it would be more accessible to the every-day person?
Maybe you have more ideas as to how we could level the playing field here so that the likes of our respected Architects, Artists, Performing Artists, Classical Musicians, you name it, were not just well known overseas but in their backyard here in Australia too? These talented people deserve to be just as well known as our Cricketers, Swimmers or Rugby players and it is embarrassing for us as a nation that they aren’t :(Cheers,
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Thinkyness came about from the charming @Perorationer who often tweets Jan & Noely in the morning with a random article he has found that would make you think, could be anything from Women in the 1800's to a potential world wide wine shortage which we would then discuss, obviously this led on to us tweeting each other #Thinkyness articles [...] more
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