“Is the Way Australia Funds the Arts a Recipe for Mediocrity?” Article in NY Times, 2 September 2018

Julian Meyrick was interviewed for a feature article written by Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore for the New York Times outlining issues with government funding of the arts in Australia. The article can be accessed here.

A brief extract from the article:

“AUSTRALIA HAS OFTEN BEEN MARKED by a preference for stability over disruption, in its economy, which has tended to favor duopolies, in its politics, which are kept relatively moderate (at least in terms of ideology) by mandatory voting, and in culture.

Cultural cringe — in part, the tendency to overvalue the culture of Europe and North America and undervalue Australia’s own — lingers, many Australians in the arts argue. This, they say, plays into why the 28 majors, who mostly concentrate on traditional art forms and repertoire, are still so revered by those who manage government funding.

Professor Meyrick said that cultural cringe has lessened over the years, as Australia gained more confidence on the global stage. Yet this attitude is “still hard-wired into the administration of culture.”

One example is programming. When he was the literary manager at the Melbourne Theatre Company (one of the majors) from 2002 to 2007, Professor Meyrick said the company regularly looked to Britain and the United States for inspiration “rather than thinking what drama of our own can we revive.”

“It’s a self-fulfilling prophesy: if you’re not putting it on, then you’re not encouraging the supply. And if you’re not encouraging the supply, you’ve got nothing to put on,” he said.”