This week, as reported by the Weekend Australian newspaper, Federal Arts Minister George Brandis said of his controversial restructuring of arts sector funding:
“The only people who have anything to fear from this program, frankly, are the mediocre, because they’re not going to be beneficiaries of it”
From a Words/Matter perspective, the problem with such a statement (and its attendant funding policy) clearly emanates from the word “mediocre“. Who, exactly, gets to define which arts are mediocre and which are not? Senator Brandis? The rest of his Liberal party? Or perhaps his friends at the “number of major performing arts companies” Senator Brandis claims have strongly endorsed his new funding program.
It is exactly this power to define our world that we need to be circumspect about and vigilant against. All too often, those in such positions are seemingly quite at ease to express their own views as somehow ‘obvious’ and ‘universal’.
However, I for one am quite certain that when it comes to categorising mediocrity in the arts, George Brandis in no way speaks for my own views. For, as Andrew Kay, the president of Live Performance Australia, said in defence of the ‘mediocre’ small-medium arts sector:
“Our success is just as dependent on small companies as on our larger, more established organisations. We need vibrant small to medium companies … those companies are the incubators of innovation.”