Monday, September 2, 2013

Denison and arts #3. Wayne Williams from the Democratic Labor Party

Wayne Williams is standing in Dension, for the Democratic Labor Party.
 Here, he discusses the DLP’s approach to arts and arts funding, his mentor the poet James McAuley and former Island editor Cassandra Pybus’ book about McAuley and where the DLP would take arts in Denison.
“I think you consider a nation great if it has achieved a high level of culture, “The artistic can be squeezed out of us through the pressures of time and work.
"If you look back through history, countries are less remembered for their military conquests than for their art. Flourishing civilisations are always those that have achieved a high level of culture.
“Art in its many forms may encourage joy, sadness, aesthetic appreciation through the beautiful and it may be through one line of verse that the soul finds consolation and courage to keep striving when perhaps faced with impossible odds.”

“The other thing is that we are handed God given talents that we should use to the best of our abilities. Our computer driven age and the pragmatic desire to consider what is useful in commercial terms often disadvantages the development of the arts.
The problem with most political parties is that they consider arts very much down the scale, especially if budgets are hard pressed. Certain sacred cows that the government are reluctant to cut; unfortunately the arts is not one of them.
The DLP proposes a tax deduction and incentives by government for the arts. They would also encourage greater regional development in the arts, promoting and encouraging art in local communities. They also oppose the selling of indigenous art overseas, “what is ours ought to not go over there, I just don’t think it should go.”
While the DLP approves of an increase in funding for the arts they are also critical of some of the spending that has been done in the arts field. Wayne feels that one of the classic mistakes made in arts funding in recent years resulted in the book The Devil and James McAuley by former Island editor, Cassandra Pybus.

“This was a book that was subsidised by $84 000 from the Australian Research Council and I do not know by how much by the Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board and by a visiting fellowship from LaTrobe University and the Australia Council also chipped in.
“What jumps immediately to the eye as you flick through is the slap dash research” Wayne goes on to elaborate on these mistakes.
It seems a strange book to generate a discussion around arts funding from, but  McAuley was a mentor to Wayne and “I am fairly criitical that a very large amount of money, nearly $100 000 was given to Cassandra to produce this work and it could have been more prudently done." James McAuley is Wayne’s favourite Tasmanian author – and he was also a good friend of his. He got him involved with the DLP by throwing him into a debate at the Hobart Town Hall when he was 21.
“I think the arts have to be very careful that they use the money wisely and in the public eye they are perceived that things are done well."

In terms of arts and health “If you look in the areas of mental health particularly, it is obviously an assistance issue but with pyschological counselling and with expressing themselves, the arts has always been a great contributor to mental health."
Wayne tends to read a lot of the political journals and tries to keep up to date with those things.  He also does a lot of spiritual reading.

Listen to the full interview here.

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