Blue wedge

Art, culture and ‘the elite’

Featured in

  • Published 20210728
  • ISBN: 978-1-922212-62-7
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

A STRANGE DISQUIET stalks the Australian arts and cultural community. It’s not just the very real effects of COVID-19 – it’s a deeper anxiety, a sense that something is happening here, but we don’t know what it is.

That the Coalition government’s response to the impact of the pandemic on this community in Australia has been woeful is generally recognised. But why? Given the repeated failings in private aged care, the vaccine rollout and the delivery of bushfire relief, incompetence cannot be ruled out. That incompetence is rooted in thirty years of hollowing out the public sector and a self-image among public administrators that only the private sector works efficiently. There’s also systemic corruption, the degradation of the ethos of public service, the symbiotic relationship between powerful lobby groups and politicians, and the assertion of ministerial sovereignty (‘they voted for us’) over the checks and balances of democracy (courts, parliamentary tradition, public administration, media, civil society). In an age of political capitalism – ‘a form of profit-oriented activity in which returns are largely the result of the direct use of political power’, according to sociologist Dylan Riley – the arts and culture sector certainly lacks a powerful lobby. There are simply fewer opportunities for politicians to engage in lucrative revolving-door arrangements than there are in fossil fuels, finance, defence, aged care, employment services and pharmaceuticals. As other countries have found, it’s a difficult sector for public administration to grapple with, not fitting the standard statistical profiles of ‘employed’ or ‘self-employed’.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Share article

About the author

Justin O’Connor

Justin O’Connor is Professor of Cultural Economy at the University of South Australia and previously at Monash University and QUT. While director of Manchester...

More from this edition

Dystopian photo album

PoetryBuried in slough of immaculate lust We wave off the iron-man model Coughing up money and fake lottery tix Ipso facto zippers and guylines, Flysheets and groundsheets, door...

Life on JobKeeper

MemoirIN SEPTEMBER 2020, two months into Melbourne’s second lockdown, I was in my local park doing my allotted hour of physical activity when a pleasant...

Orphaned responsibility

EssayUTOPIAN IDEALS ARE ordinarily more ambitious, and romantic, than the desire to see a constitutional system functioning as it should. The latter sounds more...

Stay up to date with the latest, news, articles and special offers from Griffith Review.