Can new Minister for the Arts Mitch Fifield convince the arts sector that he is not his predecessor?

As the particulars of Prime Minister Turnbull’s first ministerial reshuffle were announced from Canberra just under a fortnight ago, artists across the country began to feel the heady sweetness of some major schadenfreude. After months of protests, petitions, lobbying and campaigning, arguably the most unpopular Minister for the Arts in living memory, Senator George Brandis, was dismissed from his position as the custodian of the Australian arts portfolio. Whether this move was as a well deserved punishment handed down from the new leader of the country in response to the pleas of the Australian arts community, or in fact just allowing the Attorney General more time to devote to his new appointment as Leader of the Government in the Senate, was neither here nor there. Brandis was gone. Ding Dong, the witch was dead.

Into the breach stepped Mitch Fifield, an unknown quantity to many in the arts sector. Whereas Senator Brandis was a keen, albeit conservative, culture enthusiast, Fifield’s artistic credentials were altogether more modest. Aside from a few obscure references to culture at various points in his political career,...

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