Since well before the last election, you have been hearing contesting views about the Governments promise to introduce an Australian artists resale royalty rights scheme. So you must be wondering where its at. Pending the imminent drafting of the legislation, in mid September, a delegation of art industry representatives will be meeting in Canberra with politicians and department heads to press for the robust realisation of the scheme. In recognition of its importance to the 25,000 Australian visual artists, craft practitioners and designers, several organisations have formed the Coalition for an Australian Resale Royalty (CARR). This group is comprised of the National Association for the Visual Arts, the Australian Copyright Council, The Arts Law Centre of Australia, Viscopy, Copyright Agency Limited and theInternational Confederation of Authors and Composers. They will be joined by some high profile artists and Joanna Cave, the new CEO of Viscopy who is leaving her position as head of the UK artists collecting society, DACS, the body which successfully manages the UKs resale royalty scheme.
Resale royalty is a right which has been adopted into over 50 countries world-wide to date. CARR believes the introduction of a similar scheme in Australia should be heralded as a symbol of the Rudd governments strong commitment to visual artists. They will be arguing for a scheme which will immediately deliver maximum benefit to as many artists as possible and be viable and efficient in its administration. Well keep you posted.
The common perception that science and technology have an exclusive on innovation, is about to be challenged by the arts, humanities and social sciences. In a speech entitled The Art of Innovation at the National Press Club on Thursday 4th September, Senator Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, affirmed the humanities, arts and social sciences are critical to solving our most pressing real-world problems. These are problems so complex that our only hope of sorting them out is through a multidisciplinary effort.
Coming ahead of the announcement of the results of the governments Innovation Inquiry, these were welcome sentiments indeed for the arts community. This address formed one of the high points of the HASS in the Capital event organized by the Council for Humanities Arts and Social Sciences. Throughout his speech, the Minister talked up the role that could be played by the humanities, arts and social sciences. He said, they empower individuals and communities to deal with change whether by adapting to it, or by asserting their own view of how it should happen. Then later he continued, Without them it would be impossible to create an innovation system that was truly inclusive, democratic and just. Without them life would also be pretty dull.
Not only does this open up new recognition and opportunity within the R and D environment, but also could influence the emphasis within higher education research funding, and a broad range of government programs. How refreshing!
Meanwhile another government body is going the opposite way. Tea Tree Gully Council in Adelaide has decided the naked human form is too offensive for its annual art competition. We understand that two local artists whose works were in the age old tradition of the female nude (and quite modestly posed), were told by council staff that their works were too "graphic to be included in the councils annual Painting and Ceramics Exhibition and Competition and to be seen by children.
The fact that a nude portrait won the same competition last year seems to point to an environment of rapidly escalating conservatism, in some weird way extrapolating from the recent Henson furore. Where will this community moral guardianship end?
In this environment of heightened anxiety, the Australia Council has been charged with the task by the Arts Minister to develop a set of protocols in relation to the artistic representation of children. Currently the Council is seeking submissions from anyone who wishes to comment. The closing date is the 19 September 2008. These submissions will be used to inform a set of protocols that the Council is developing to address the depiction of children in artworks, exhibitions and publications that receive government funding. The task will be completed by the end of the year. It is hoped that the Council manages its responsibility mindful of the dangers that restriction can pose to artists freedom of expression, a right usually zealously respected and defended in modern democracies.
And now to the art market. There is predictable speculation that the economic downturn may be affecting the Australian art market, with more than half of the works, including several major paintings, failing to sell at both Sotheby's recent Melbourne auction, and that of Bonhams and Goodman in the same week. It is that case that the Australian art market has been growing in buoyancy for several years and at some point would be expected to level out. Lets not think the sky has fallen in just yet.