The MYEFO cuts have dealt another blow to the already ailing arts sector, but the biggest losers are tomorrow’s arts lovers.
When Winston Churchill was asked at the height of the Second World War why he had not cut funding to the arts, the British Prime Minister replied, “Then what are we fighting for?” It’s a marvellous notion, that one of the greatest bastions of western democracy – and a conservative at that – should place the arts under such protection, even while his country was staring unimaginable peril in the face. However in reality, Churchill never uttered these words. The pithy yet poignant directness of this brilliant response is nothing more than wishful thinking.
Yet this misquote persists, offered as an iron-clad retort to anyone complaining about hard earned taxpayer dosh being squandered on artsy-fartsy nonsense. Its endurance is undoubtedly because those who cherish the arts know their value, and deep down hope that this worth is known to those political leaders who hold the national purse strings.
It’s not dissimilar to the quiet optimism adopted by the Australian arts community when the apparently cultured and arts appreciative Malcolm Turnbull toppled the proudly...