Peter Garrett is the new Minister for the Arts. Well, he officially becomes Minister for the Arts today, when he is sworn in. To celebrate, the Sydney Morning Herald runs a nice big fat story on how the Artzzz community is already antsy and impatient with the new minister for not spelling out how much moolah they'll be getting :
Peter Garrett talks about the arts like a therapist staging an intervention. In his first interview as arts minister-elect, the language is positive but short on detail - building confidence before the rehabilitation, it seems.
"Labor's starting point is to recognise that the arts are as big and as broad and as deserving of support as the country is," he says. "It's certainly a signal that from the prime minister, right through the whole of the government, the integral role that the arts plays in our society will be recognised, encouraged and applauded."
Garrett is not prepared to commit to funds allocated in the May budget, and will not use his position to influence the states on support for the arts - as has been promised in areas such as health.
"The role that the national government has is to ensure that the responsibilities in relation to film, to the administration and direction of the Australia Council [are met] … I'd expect to work closely with the states where there are shared programs for delivery," he says.
"I think the critical thing is to be unabashed about recognising the absolutely critical role that the arts plays, in all its branches, in all its forms of expression," Garrett says. "I'd use an expression such as opening up the shutter for a whole new landscape of possibilities."
Now the election is over, is Peter Garrett actually going to start talking like a human being again, anytime soon?
Though they will cut out their own tongues before they freely admit it, most of the Australian arts communities did very well, funding-wise, under John Howard's reign.
Neither Kevin Rudd, or Peter Garrett, have given any indication whatsoever that they plan to fund Australian Arts beyond the levels outlined in Peter Costello's May budget, or even match those Howard government allocations.
Might be time to mulch up some paper-mache in preparation of building some Rudd and Garrett big puppet protest heads, just in case.