Editorial – RT59

2004: Celebrating 10 years
of RealTime

It’s been an amazing decade to be involved in arts publishing, responding to a mighty wave of innovation in hybrid and new media arts that have had ramifications right across the arts.

In 2004 we’ll be celebrating 10 years of innovative magazine publishing. It’s a chance to seriously reflect on a decade of work and to anticipate developments in the next. There’ll be a celebratory edition in June tracing our publishing history and the works and artists we’ve documented. There’ll also be associated events. Join us in celebrating out 10th birthday. More news soon.

The ABC does it again…

Our RT 58 editorial reported the abolition of The Listening Room and New Music Australia. Australian music is to be distributed across Classic FM programming. Now Triple J management have axed the Wednesday night arts program, Artery, aiming to distribute its contents in brief grabs (one or two minutes) across weekend and morning programs (Arts Hub News, Jan 20). As with the dismantling of New Music Australia the assumption is that this way more people will come in contact with the arts. Once again listener choice has been eliminated in the interests of generalist broadcasting. The arts on radio will now become a chance encounter rather than a programmed certainty and utterly deprived of decent duration. Once again, a deep-seated hostility towards the arts within the ABC has been revealed, disguised as a rescue operation saving the arts from “ghetto-isation” and “pigeon-holing.” It sounds remarkably like the depiction of the arts as elitist that emerged in the 1996 election campaign.

Nor is our report on the fate of the arts on ABC TV altogether heartening (p23). Increased investment in the Sunday arts program will yield more Australian arts “packages and interviews”, certainly a good thing, and the show is to be themed—which could be enlightening or just another way to stitch together old material. Critical Mass will continue with a slightly broader brief. But the rest of the new ABC programs fall resolutely into the entertainment basket.

Whose art?

The ABC’s reductive approach to the arts, The Sydney Morning Herald’s editorial criticising the Sydney Festival for not being a festive entertainment and the current debate over the future of ACMI in Melbourne all come at a time when the artist is increasingly expected to meet audience expectations and art is meant only to be accessible. The traditional give and take between artist and audience is being undermined by the mythology of a tyrannous arts elite. Making audiences accessible to the arts doesn’t appear to be on the agenda. Interestingly, this is the year on which the Australia Council’s Audience & Market Development Division turns more of its considerable energy to Australian audiences. More on this soon.

RealTime 59

This edition is rich in arts issues. OnScreen focuses on the Asian face of Australian film, leading with Olivia Khoo asking why Asian figures often play sacrificial roles in the emotional development of Australian characters. An interview with Brisbane-based new media artist Keith Armstrong highlights the importance of the underpinnings of testing and re-thinking in the development of new media work. Two articles on Canadian film and new media art provide instructive comparisons with Australian models, with some surprising differences in outcomes pinpointed in film. Congratulations to Ian Haig on his success at Melbourne’s Sexpo and its flow on into the US, as interesting in its own way as Patricia Piccinini’s Venice Biennale achievement. RT

RealTime issue #59 Feb-March 2004 pg. 3

© Keith Gallasch; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 February 2004