By Chris Creighton-Kelly, May 2013
Why funding the arts makes sense.
There is a half-way decent case against arts funding. It goes something like this: We taxpayers should not have to pay for activities that are elitist. Art is commodity production like anything else. Put it in the marketplace. If it sells, that means people like it and therefore, it must be good. And if it is good, it will sell. So no need to subsidize it.
If you look at public funding through a limited lens, this argument seems to make sense. Well, sort of. The problem with the “if it is good, it will survive in the marketplace” argument is that we, as a society, fund many human activities that cannot survive in the so-called free market. Or put another way, if they did survive, necessarily by making a profit, our whole understanding of what they are would change drastically.
By Chris Creighton-Kelly, April 2013
Let’s recreate the city’s image by putting the land and its peoples front and centre.
He has had a few glasses of wine. So he, a non-native person, insists on telling me this: “There could be colourful banners, murals on the side of buildings, outdoor pole carvers and businesses selling aboriginal art.”
I respond by saying this is what we already have in Victoria. He counters by saying yes, but we need more of it. He is well-intentioned, but apparently, in some cases, there is a limit to the human imagination!
By Chris Creighton-Kelly, March 2013
If art requires the quality of uniqueness to be art, can web-based expression be art?
In the last Culture Talks, I opened a discussion about the intersection of art and politics. I made reference to Walter Benjamin’s 70-year-old idea of the “aura” that accompanies visual artworks or live theatre productions. It is this uniqueness—in the art object or the onstage performance—that, according to Benjamin, gives art its authenticity.
He also states that by reproducing artworks, this aura is displaced: “...that which withers in the age of mechanical reproduction is the aura of the work of art...the instant the criterion of authenticity ceases to be applicable to artistic production, the total function of art is reversed. Instead of being based on ritual, it begins to be based on another practice—politics.”
By Chris Creighton-Kelly
Musings on the practical difficulties of mixing art and politics.
I write these words from one of my favorite places. Collioure—a delightful, Catalan village in the south of France just a few kilometers from the Spanish border, where the Pyrenees slope gently into the silver-blue of the Mediterranean.
It is a place for resting, loving, writing, eating and drinking well, strolling in the sunlight, sitting calmly. For experiencing the extraordinary sense of simply being alive, in this place, in this moment, in this spirit. In short, a place to appreciate the good things in life, to appreciate the good thing that is my life.
By Chris Creighton-Kelly, January 2013
“I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.”—John Cage
The place is packed: it is a sold-out house. Theatre-goers, with nowhere to seat themselves, stand in the back, craning to get a peek at the celebrated composer. The set is bare bones—a wooden table, an old-fashioned round desk clock, a glass of water.
The theatre is all abuzz. Finally a tall man with an impish grin, 70-plus years old, walks out to sustained applause and sits at the table. He offers a short, yet complex, explanation about word fragments chosen from the bible using a strict methodology involving the I Ching. He looks up from his notes, grins again, and starts into it.
“Thddg ghat zooh frrrrrr dineeg wll nooi lask...” sound after sound after sound, sounding just like these sounds.
By Chris Creighton-Kelly, December 2012
We all need a sanctuary from commercial interests.
A few weeks ago… I am seeing Red. And I am looking forward to it. Red, John Logan’s celebrated play about the American abstract painter Mark Rothko is playing at the Belfry. This Tony award-winning two-hander hones in on the relationship between Rothko and his assistant, Ken—just Ken, he is never given a last name. The pair verbally dance around the studio; around art ideas and issues; around, finally, the very philosophy of art practice itself.
A play about art practice—yeah! Kudos to Artistic Director Michael Shamata for bringing it to Victoria. His tight, unadorned, focus-on-the-actors direction is entirely appropriate for Logan’s script—the characters never leave Rothko’s confining art studio.
by Chris Creighton-Kelly, November 2012
Do the arts in Victoria need a kick in the butt?
I am sitting across from them—a woman and a man. We are eating lunch and we have now reached a point past the small talk. We are, after all, trying to cut a deal.
I tell them that I would like to write for Focus magazine. They tell me that they would like that too. We talk briefly about details such as deadlines, contracts, money, copyright. But then, they—editor Leslie Campbell and publisher David Broadland—launch into a spirited explanation of why they create and publish Focus month after month: For the critical issues, for their writers to speak, for the arts in the CRD, for a kind of “disappearing” local, investigative reporting. And for the intelligence and curiosity of their readers.