IN THE FIRST month of John Howard’s government, my then toddler son offered the new prime minister a soggy biscuit. That moment came early in my attempt to set up a savvy arts-based company that could experiment with cultural approaches to complex social problems. Without realising it at the time, the soggy encounter was the turning point in Big hART’s approach to Community Cultural Development (CCD).
There we were in the hallowed halls of Parliament House, about to introduce the PM to his best worst nightmare – a bunch of ex-juvenile offenders, reformed recidivists from Tasmania. Mr Howard came striding across the marble, media-scum stumbling and cursing behind him like some multi-limbed pot-bellied animatronic political spore as he power-walked his way to the theatrette deep in the bowels of the building. History was working in our favour that day. Tasmania in early 1996 was momentarily flavour of the month, especially when it came to young offenders, and so the PM had agreed to meet us.
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