No Mercy Seat for Brandis says Nick Cave

The internationally renowned singer, writer and musician has added his voice to the call for a new Arts Minister and expressed concerns about the existing structure of the Book Council of Australia.
[This is archived content and may not display in the originally intended format.]

Image: Flickr

Celebrated Australian artist Nick Cave has joined a collective of writers and readers voicing their concerns in an open letter regarding the administration of the Book Council of Australia (BCA).

The new open letter emphasises the importance of investing in individual writers, calls for greater representation by writers on the Book Council, and requests that the Prime Minister find a less divisive Arts Minister than the incumbent, Senator George Brandis.

‘Many truly gifted Australian writers are struggling, writers of vision and vitality. This need not be the case. Writers, like other artists, are the lifeblood of a nation, those bold few who dare reflect us back to ourselves, in all our beautiful ignobility. Prime Minister Turnbull, if you are truly, as you claim to be, an agent of democracy, I implore you: heed this petition,’ Cave said in a statement.

Christos Tsiolkas, Geordie Williamson, Hannah Kent, Emily Bitto, Sophie Cunningham and many other respected writers and readers have also co-signed the letter.

​The Book Council of Australia is currently funded at $6 million dollars to be distributed over three years – funding which was taken from the operating budget of the Australia Council for the Arts.

The collective explicitly states they do not wish to see the BCA abolished; rather they request that its administration be transferred to the Australia Council for the Arts, ‘where it can be more effectively managed through the Australia Council’s peer assessment practices and accountable governance.’

The significant benefits of moving the administration from the Ministry for the Arts to the Australia Council for the Arts was seen in the Australian Government Visual Arts and Craft Strategy (VACS) in 2012.

That $90 million investment in the sector created opportunities for artists to boost their careers and income and improved efficiency. The collective behind the open letter to the Prime Minister believe the same success can be achieved for the BCA.

The open letter also calls for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to reconsider the governance of the BCA and ‘undo some of the damage caused by Senator George Brandis’ non-evidence based changes to arts funding.’

The letter continues: ‘We call again for George Brandis to be moved out of the Arts portfolio, but we must also question the intentions and conflict of interest of inaugural Chair Louise Adler, and communicate that we do not support her in this role.’

A previous Open Letter on 3 September raised concerns regarding the focus of the BCA and its lack of consultation with the wider literary sector, concerns which were again emphasised in the new statement.

Unlock Padlock Icon

Unlock this content?

Access this content and more

About the Author
ArtsHub is your source for arts sector news and jobs. You can support our work by joining us. Find out more about membership.