Andrew Wilkie is the member for Denison in the House of Representatives. At this stage it looks like he will still be there after this election this Saturday, September 7th. You can listen to this interview on arts and culture in Denison in its entirety here.
“At this time of an election campaign you will find every candidate talking up up the wonderful arts and culture scene we have in Tasmania but it is at risk of sounding like a whole collection of clichés. “Of course we have a rich scene and of course we are all in support of it but you have to contrast what people say about it with what people do with it.
“Regrettably, the arts and culture scene has, for many years been neglected. I don’t know whether David Walsh is proud or sad of the fact that he has had no public assistance and in any case there is too much attention on Mona when there is a whole lot more going on out there which seems to be swamped by the Mona phenomenon.
“As a member of parliament my involvement inevitably is to do with money and I was proud to secure $4 million to build a new Moonah Arts Centre and very proud to get $1.65 million to save the old South Hobart primary school and turn that into a community and cultural hub but it is a fraction of what needs to be done.
“The state and federal governments need to look for clever ways to invest in arts and culture nationally including in Tasmania to genuinely promote it.
“I am attracted to the idea the Greens have to pay a living wage to artists. It seems to be a sensible way to go if you really want to encourage art at the grass roots level and that is the sort of innovative approach we need to see.“I can see a real arts trail, it might start in Salamanca, and ideally on a light rail. You could get off at Moonah and wander to the new arts centre, get off at GASP when it is completed, back on the light rail, up to Mona.
“It could become one of the nation’s premier destinations for art and culture tourism, we’re on the cusp of cracking it.”
“Regrettably too many politicians and too many governments just think of art as just a painting or an installation. I don’t know that any government in this country; certainly not in Tasmania, there doesn’t seem to be any understanding of the importance of art and culture in the community and the way it enriches and makes for a healthier community.
Andrew's favourite book is A Fortunate Life by AB Facey, but when it comes to Tasmanian books
“I like to read Tasmanian history and James Boyce is a towering figure in that space. His acclaimed book Van Diemen’s Land brings history to life. Another local author I like reading is Richard Flanagan. He is another author that can bring history to life and in a book like Gould’s Book of Fish it becomes a weird mishmash of fact and fiction; you don’t know where one ends and another starts and I find that quite fun.
When asked what he will do if reelected, he is clear:
“Two things: I will continue my efforts to secure investment in art in Tasmania and I think I have a good track record in that regard but I will also work harder to promote the arts as something that genuinely does enrich the community and make it happier and healthier and look for ways to find money for that.”
Listen to the full interview here.