Chris Bowen shares his view of the Report, wonders why he feels he’s staring into the past, and puts some proposals on the table.
When consultant Helen Nugent led the Major Performing Arts Inquiry in 1999, the resulting report Securing the Future delivered exactly as it stated. To the consternation of critics, it stabilised the companies, locked in support from state governments, and to this day not one company has closed its doors.
Yet now, with Helen Nugent called on again, this time for opera, the resulting report appears strangely out of step. This Review ought to be called Securing the Past.For opera, and the world, has moved on. But you’d never know it reading this document.
While the Opera Review Reportis thorough, detailed, and has worthwhile recommendations, including to incentivise innovation and collaboration, it seems almost other-worldly, based on a set of assumed values that remain un-examined. It feels fixated on the rear vision mirror, and is mired in prescriptive and punitive managerialism. The Review authors appear to believe that if the companies just do their jobs properly, and are given a decent cash top-up, all will be OK.
Except it’s not OK.
The reason why this...