Senator Brandis has declared himself the national taste-maker. Australian artists should be worried.

When the first axe blow fell, following the announcement in November last year that ABC Classic FM was to have its funding slashed, New Music Up Latewas the first head to roll. The decision to discontinue Australia’s only national platform for the broadcast of modern music seemed to be made all too easily, and aside from a faithful minority of composers and contemporary music devotees who lobbied in vain to save the programme, few seemed to mourn its loss. The argument for the cancellation of the programme relied on a fundamentally flawed logic: as one of the least listened to shows, it would be unjustifiable to squander precious dollars continuing to the produce New Music Up Latein a climate of austerity. Essentially, popularity had become the yardstick by which the value of culture was being measured.

Indeed, some welcomed the cancellation. At Limelightwe received several letters applauding the decision to cull the amount of “unappealing” new music, apparently clogging up the airwaves. This of course shines a light on what I feel is one of the most significant paradoxes effecting the arts: why...

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