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kelli mccluskey discusses the importance of the arts

6 December 2019

why is the government combing arts with transport and infrastructure?

pvi collective’s co-artistic director kelli mccluskey was a guest on rtrfm’s ‘artbeat’ program on friday 6th december.

In the interview with Bec Bowman kelli discussed the government’s recent announcements about the arts, our creative output in 2019, and what the collective has planned for 2020.

“we didn’t see that one coming”, kelli said of of the prime minister announcement that the department of arts, communication and cyber safety would be merged with the departments of transport and infrastructure, and arts would not even feature in the department’s name.

“it seems that the arts has dropped off completely.” kelli said, “we were shocked, and are deeply concerned and have a lot of questions.”

host bec bowman said the announcement had made her wonder if this was a sign that we were moving into living a a dystopian society, to which kelli responded that news had made her wonder where the actual tipping point was.

“it made me wonder what is the tipping point, and I guess I was thinking about this in the broader context of where we are living at the moment in terms of our assumption that we’re living in a liberal democracy.

“i think when you have a liberal democracy that fails to serve or listen to the will of the people, when rights to protest, to free speech, to independent news, is actively oppressed or restricted –  then we are no longer living in a liberal democracy.

“we’re living in a totalitarian state, and it sounds funny, and like something out of a dystopian novel, but that seems to me to be the broader context of where this decision from our prime minister has come.” kelli said.

kelli said the role of the arts is to question, interrogate, and listen, and respond, and the conversations and responses created are often challenging, and that’s something governments should be supporting.

given that the prime minister has already stated that this amalgamation was not about cost cutting, kelli said it was difficult to understand what the logic behind the decision was as it was hard to see the synergies between these disparate industries.

“it’s more than the removal of a department, it’s the removal of a voice.” kelli said.

kelli said while it’s still ‘early days’ in understanding what the prime minister announcement will be mean for the arts industry, there is undoubtedly doing to be a response to the government’s decision.

as pvi collective prepare to head into the new year, one of the new works in development within the company is about civil disobedience.

“ironically we are in the midsts of developing a project that looks into the roots of civil disobedience, and civil disobedience has been cited as a tool for citizens to use and deploy in order to hold those in power to account.

we have a work called ‘disobedience rules’ which is kind of like a live pub quiz, it has a guest host and change makers in the room and looks at ways that civil disobedience can be deployed in a public space.” kelli said.

kelli said the heading into the new year the company would continue to be focusing on works that involved collaboration between the artists and audiences.

Listen to the full interview at rtrfm

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