Is risk-taking in art dead?

In an essay for the latest Platform Paper titled Take Me To Your Leader: The dilemma of cultural leadership, Wesley Enoch, Artistic Director of The Queensland Theatre Company, describes Australian theatre practitioners as “weak fucks” and “a pack of whingers and whiners who have shirked responsibility to lead debate on social and political issues.He goes on to say that“Artists have found comfort in the official culture, loved being looked after by powerful friends at the centre, instead of embracing our fringe-dwellerness”. 

“Artists have found comfort in the official culture, loved being looked after by powerful friends at the centre, instead of embracing our fringe-dwellerness”.

Enoch goes on to articulate a loss of risk-taking and adventure found across our cultural landscape. That boards and their companies lack cultural leadership and avoid risk is an all too common refrain, one that also extends to our cultural institutions and to programming generally, some would say. Enoch observes that ‘Government champions the arts more these days than artists do’. 

In reading this, one is prompted to ask whether arts policy is at fault here, and brings to mind Sydney’s Vivid Festival; the high profile winter event sold to Sydneysiders as the place where art and technology intersect which this year demonstrated a blinding avoidance of any real artists’ touch–or whether artists themselves really are a bunch of ‘weak-f—ks’ as Enoch puts it.

With this deliberately and unashamedly provocative introduction, Museums & Galleries of NSW invites you to participate in our Art & Power event, a forum where you’ll hear artists and gallery curators talk creative risk.

Using the popular Pecha Kucha format of 20 seconds per 20 slides, speakers will hit you hard and fast with their ideas, explore issues to do with small and large ‘p’ politics and hopefully inspire your thinking about how art and power are intimately related.

In the run up to the event we are circulating as many ‘provocative arts’ items we come across in the media, so keep an eye out for #ArtPower on Twitter and Facebook as we feed these through to you. We’ve already posted about the bad-boy English artist Jake Chapman who told parents art is wasted on their kids; how artist Marni Kotak–who gave birth in a gallery in 2011–has gone off her anti-psychotic, anti-depressive medication for the sake of art; and how Tony Albert, winner of the Basil Sellers Art Prize challenges racism through art.

So if you are interested in vigorous and provocative thinking in the arts in NSW, come along to Freda’s Bar in Chippendale. We kick off at 6pm: come early to enjoy Freda’s good food, good vibe and your free drink included with every ticket purchased.

This ArtChat event is powered by Pecha Kucha and kindly supported by the Regional & Public Galleries Association of NSW. That makes it an event not to be missed!


If you would like to register for this event:

You can follow on Twitter using #ArtPower

If you would like to read more about Wesley Enoch’s comments, here is how the Sydney Morning Herald reported it:

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