The Weekend Australian - Review - - Feature - Tim Dou­glas The Week­end Aus­tralian Re­view

It’s been a tough week for our col­leagues at Fair­fax, es­pe­cially those arts and cul­ture jour­nal­ists whose jobs seem to be in the (short) sights of man­age­ment. And while it’s been heart­en­ing to see the jour­nal­ists’ union, the Me­dia En­ter­tain­ment and Arts Al­liance, come out so strongly in sup­port of sav­ing those po­si­tions, there is a bit­ter irony here. While the MEAA has been ac­tive in es­pous­ing the im­por­tance of cul­tural jour­nal­ism, its part­ner, The Walk­ley Foun­da­tion, has never seen fit to gen­uinely recog­nise arts writ­ing or crit­i­cism at the an­nual cel­e­bra­tion of our craft. There is no arts cat­e­gory at the Walk­ley Awards. In­stead, would-be Walk­ley-win­ning arts sto­ries and re­views are lumped into the cat­e­gory “Com­men­tary, anal­y­sis, opin­ion and cri­tique”, a bracket skewed to­wards the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum. The pre­dictable sce­nario when this year’s Walk­ley Awards roll around is that the coun­try’s best arts writ­ers and crit­ics will watch on — from home — as ev­ery other sig­nif­i­cant branch of the me­dia is cel­e­brated, and the cream of those crops feted in front of our peers. In an era where the pres­ti­gious Pas­call Prize for crit­i­cism seems to have gone the way of the dodo (in­ex­pli­ca­bly it was not awarded last year), the Walk­ley Foun­da­tion has a very real op­por­tu­nity to high­light the worth of those hun­dreds of pages — and hun­dreds of thou­sands of words — ded­i­cated each week to the cul­tural sec­tor. If the Walk­ley Foun­da­tion val­ues the arts, and the high stan­dards of crit­i­cism and re­port­ing around them, then it should in­sti­tute an award that recog­nises the very best cov­er­age of, and crit­i­cism in, the Aus­tralian cul­tural land­scape. It’s all smiles at Syd­ney’s Na­tional Art School, which has beaten out ev­ery Aus­tralian higher education provider on the stu­dent sat­is­fac­tion in­dex. The fed­eral re­port into qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tional ex­pe­ri­ence found 96.9 per cent of NAS stu­dents were happy at the Dar­linghurst school, which re­cently with­stood merger plans. Given the school site is a for­mer no­to­ri­ous jail, it’s fair to say the mood within its thick sand­stone walls has come a long way. Oh, to be an un­der­grad­u­ate again. The Univer­sity of Mel­bourne, as part of its bach­e­lor de­gree in arts, of­fers a sub­ject called — wait for it — Euro­vi­sions, cel­e­brat­ing the in­ter­na­tional song con­test and its po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence on the con­ti­nent. The grand fi­nal in Kiev screens live from 5am to­mor­row on SBS. Australia’s Isa­iah Fire­brace is in the mix. Will the 17-year-old from Moama in NSW make the most of his shot at glory? (And will those univer­sity stu­dents wake up in time to see it …?) Face­book: @the­week­endaus­tralian­re­view Twit­ter: @TimDou­glas_Aus In­sta­gram: @Re­view_Aus­tralian

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