In defence of artists.
You know those mornings after the night before when you wake up with a warm glow? God’s in his heaven and all’s right with the world – and then someone dumps in your cornflakes. That happened to me today. Last night I sat through a couple of hours of unalloyed pleasure. Tim Minchin’s award-winning musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Matilda has landed in Sydney, and the opening night crowd were treated to a cast of hard-working, multi skilled artists (some of them giving every appearance of being shy of ten years-old and quite a few under four feet tall). My face has only just recovered from the effort of maintaining a permanent grin for such a stretch. And then I checked the Daily Telegraph…
It turns out that Sydney Theatre Company and Sydney Dance Company are losing their parking spaces on The Wharf down at Walsh Bay. Hold the front page I hear you say! Why I should let myself be annoyed by a total non-story I don’t know, but it isn’t what it says, it’s the way that it says it. In a ridiculously over-sensationalised account, Miles Godfrey (apparently a State Political Reporter, for God’s sake) writes how “Arts luvvies at up-market Walsh Bay will be stripped of cushy free waterfront parking spots and forced to slum it in paid parking spaces.” He goes on to refer to an “elite arts community”, to dancers getting their “tutus in a twist” (tutus – has he ever been to a Sydney Dance Company show?) and the Hicksons Road pier as “the art darlings’ boardwalk empire.”
As a former “luvvie” myself, it used to drive me mad reading this kind of lazy, derogatory stereotyping in the mainstream press. It seems the only way to get an arts story into the front section of a paper is if actors, dancers or musicians can be shown to conform to one of the three ‘P’s: privileged, precious or paedophiles. Sadly this week’s mainline news items seem to cover all of those. I’d suggest to Mr Godfrey that as a News International journalist he probably earns considerably more than anyone I saw onstage in Matilda last night. I’d also suggest that he likely has a bigger car and more parking privileges than any actor or musician I know. So why not give artists a break and show a little respect?