Saturday, November 29, 2014

Decommissioning Culture – Australia without a national poetry broadcast.

You may have heard that the ABC is decommissioning Poetica (along with a raft of shows) in a bid to weather the cuts inflicted on it by the LNP.  I can’t help but think that this is the thin end of the wedge, or perhaps the middle, who knows.  Both sides of politics have continually sought to get aunty on the treadmill and make her efficient.  I am sick to death of governments privatising public services (and long term,  I think this is where it’s going), it never works out better for the public. 

I don’t know why the decision was made to axe Poetica, leaving Australia without national poetry coverage, was it ratings, was the size of its staff, the likelihood that poets would not protest in the streets? It had a listenership of 60,000 which is about 50,000 more than I was thinking. So…

Let us reflect on this for a moment, Australia without a national poetry program.  What does that say about us as a culture?  What message does it send? What does it project about us internationally?

It’s not the death of poetry in this country of course, the scene(s) is/are still pretty vibrant.  But in a country as big, as geographically challenged as ours, poetry and host of other non-commercially attractive pursuits, benefit from the lift national coverage gives, benefit immensely from the piddling amount that is spent on it.

I am underwhelmed by the response in general from the public and I’m talking about the poetry reading public here ( I realise that Poetry is a pastime shared by a dedicated few). I expected a bit more…fire in the belly. Some metaphorical rioting.

I expected some big names to come out swinging. I expected our poetry elders to sharpen their quills. Perhaps they are still reeling from the other cuts inflicted or instigated by a government that seems determined to push a nasty ideological agenda.

Thanks to Australian Poetry who made a statement here and to the Sydney Morning Herald, who carried the only mainstream media story I could Google on it here.

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