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Arts end of the budget
Facing up
Comedians, dancers, actors, choirs and orchestras have helped keep Australians sane during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown with a wealth of online artistry and diverting entertainment. For their efforts, the Morrison Government has thumbed its nose at Australia’s arts community in the 2020-2021 Federal Budget released on 6 October, after announcing a package of support in June that has yet to come to fruition for any arts organisation.

There was no mention in Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s Budget speech of the arts or the creative industries, the term both sides of politics increasingly use to describe the arts, perhaps for fear of deeper engagement in some electoral quarters suspicious of the arts.

Earlier this year, on his property in Victoria’s East Gippsland, Bruce Pascoe sat by the river for artist Craig Ruddy, who made sketches and painted studies of the Bunurong and Yuin writer. They spoke about Indigenous land management and regeneration in the wake of a devastating fire that had just swept through there.

“We spoke a lot about the day the fire came through his property, and he lost his neighbour and close friend,” recalls Ruddy, who had been prompted to meet Pascoe after reading Pascoe’s best-selling book Dark Emu, which lays out evidence of extensive agricultural and aquacultural practices of Indigenous Australians prior to European colonisation.

Steve's essays Bent Man Running published in Growing Up Queer in Australia and Stream drama in Meanjin autumn 2020.
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