Condolences for Australia’s Deep North

Balnaves Foundation
Balnaves Foundation

Voices of support for the Queensland Art Community continue to flow in on the winds of foul change. Among the notable critics of the cancelling of the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards, Neil Balnaves, AO of The Balnaves Foundation made an impassioned speech during the launch of The Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwrights Award in Sydney.

‘This is a trend that we have to change; this is a trend that all Australian’s have to do something about. Governments are backing out of their responsibilities to take care of our arts, to support our arts to the extent they should.’ – Neil Balnaves

A private, philanthropic organisation that disperses over $2 million annually, The Balnaves Foundation and indigenous writers know all too well how difficult it is to tell their stories without the investment of public or private funds.

In a Sydney Morning Herald interview about the new award, Wesley Enoch, Queensland Theatre Company’s artistic director and one of the judges of the awards reflects that the stream of indigenous writing that was born of the 1970’s National Black Theatre movement and the founding of the indigenous theatre community, has started to dry up and it is awards such as this that will find the new writers and the new voices of a new generation of indigenous story-tellers.

“It’s vital that indigenous Australians tell their stories,” Enoch explains, “When you recognise something of yourself, something celebrating your survival… it does a lot for the mental health of this country.”

CanDon't Campbell
CanDon't Campbell

And health is something we all care about. Each year the Queensland department of recreation and communities provides in excess of $40 million through funding programs aimed at new and improved opportunities for people to participate in sport and active recreation. This is a good thing and although not providing immediate economic replenishment, the hope is for a positive effect on our future, a future that is staring down the barrel of inflated health care costs from a nation sickened by its own sedentary existence. When the CanDo government decides to start chipping away at this funding the outrage will be palpable.

 ‘I find it an absolute contradiction that they can play with the soul of this country, in all forms of the arts, in this case literary and with an Indigenous slant, and in their minds they think this is clever. It sends the wrong signal and it puts more pressure on people like me who are giving away the large majority of our wealth simply because politicians aren’t doing enough for this country. I’m not doing it because I want to be a hero; I’m doing it to address the shortfall from government.’


Balnaves’ message to the Queensland government is clear. CanDo Campbell’s short sighted message to the people of Queensland is also clear – I decide what matters.

Mr CanDo; a healthy, well balanced community is what matters. Where can we go during tough times if not to sports, art, literature and culture? Without the arts, we would never know the truth of the human condition.


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