All at sea: the cannibalisation of the Australian arts industry

The arts in Australia are at risk of being cast adrift from culture and the diverse social and artistic values and visions that comprise it.

Le Radeau de la Méduse (detail), 1818–19, Théodore Géricault.

The discussion around arts funding in Australia can sometimes resemble Sławomir Mrożek’s absurdist short play Out at Sea in which three starving men adrift on a raft argue over who is to be sacrificed to feed the other two:

Since 2013 the number of artists and organisations receiving Australia Council funding has been reduced under successive Coalition governments by a staggering 73%. In an environment of such scarcity, in which sweeping funding cuts and redistributions have steadily sharpened the line between the haves and the have-nots, the temptation for individuals and organisations to turn on each other is strong. It is also understandable.

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Ben Brooker
About the Author
Ben is an Adelaide-based writer, editor, critic, essayist, bookseller, and playwright. His work has been featured by Overland, Australian Book Review, RealTime, The Lifted Brow, Daily Review, Verity La, Witness, ArtsHub, and others. In 2016-17 Ben was an inaugural Sydney Review of Books Emerging Critics Fellow and in 2018-19 was writer-in-residence at The Mill.