My advice to any young Australian writer whose talents have been recognised would be to do steerage, stow away, swim, and seek London, Yankeeland, or Timbuctoo – rather than stay in Australia till his genius turns to gall, or beer. Or, failing this – and still in the interests of human nature and literature – to study elementary anatomy, especially as it applies to the cranium, and then shoot himself carefully with the aid of a looking glass.
Henry Lawson Australian writer 1867 – 1922
Condition of Grant
Ref: 101650 Skills and Arts development Grant recipient: John Kelly
The conditions of this Grant are:
You shall include in all promotional material and publications relating to this project, whether electronic or print a prominent acknowledgement as follows:
“This project has been assisted by the Commonwealth Government through the Australia Council,
its arts funding and advisory body.”
…You shall also display, in an appropriate size, Council’s logo, which incorporates the kangaroo graphic…
This project has been assisted by the Commonwealth Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.
The size, shape, position and weight relationships of the logo and its elements must not be altered.
add other visual elements and text to the logo
obscure or cover the logo by text or technical processes, such as additional screens of colours
place the logo in shapes or borders
crop, trim or bleed the log [sic] off a page or in a fold — the logo must always appear in its entirety
stretch or distort the logo
rearrange the elements of the logo
tilt the logo
use any part of the logo as a graphic element
The following Found Poems selectively choose passages from the artistʼs correspondence with the Arts Council and other government departments, which offer a perspective on the subtext of bureaucratic discourse. Others are constructed using text from published speeches and reports.
Any incorrect spelling is as it appeared.
Out of Time
you are not hindered in any way,
there is a separate allocation
There is no separate allocation
this advice was not incorrect nor misleading
communication with you should have been more efficient.
the only Out of Time application received.
In this highly competitive context
competitive in the wider context of the category
decisions are made in competition against all the applications.
our process was not explained clearly or completely
would have set a precedent
and have unreasonable implications
I sincerely regret this underlying assumption had not been explained satisfactorily this is
for several reasons
There is no specific reason
The Board has the power
please do not hesitate to contact
thank you for your recent email
unfortunately the conclusions you draw
If we had time we could discuss these matters,
however I regret that this is not possible
As nothing further can be gained by continuing this correspondence
the matter is now closed
Out of time
John Kelly: Bubbles, 2005 Oil on Canvas
From: john kelly <………….@virgin.net>
To: Anna Waldmann <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Monday, June 17, 2002 9:39 pm Subject: Austrlaia Council Logo
Dear Ms Waldmann
…due to the lengthy process of the appeal and further correspondence concerning the grant it is now too late to include the Australia Council logo on any associated material with the Monte Carlo Festival…
…to acknowledge the Australia Council’s support I would like to ask permission to use the logo of the
Australia Council in conjunction with exhibitions in Basel, London and Australia which will be exhibiting and selling my work to help support my Sculptural endeavours…
As I have been advised via e-mail that your office is the appropriate forum to address this concern I bring them to your attention. Could you please inform me asap of your position on the above so that I may equip my grant in the appropriate manner.
From: Anna Waldmann <a.waldmann email@example.com To: ‘john kelly’ <…..@virgin.net>
Cc: Martin Munz firstname.lastname@example.org, Linda Goodman email@example.com Date: Tuesday, June 18, 2002 9:04 am Sunject: RE: Austrlaia Council Logo
Dear Mr Kelly
Thank you for your message enquiring about the use of the Australia Council logo.
Due to the circumstances of your grant I agree that you may use the Council logo as described in your email below. Sincerely
From the Chair
This report interprets
from the quantitative and qualitative strategies for the future
tends to have a meaning rarely questioned which is extremely indeterminate
the monolithic-sounding phrase the arts has to be unpacked in the mind of every individual
measuring the value
and developing strategies to promote this value are demanding though not impossible tasks
The knowledge this…contributes will…show our community…how in shaping a vision we must…thank
Saatchi & Saatchi
The CEO Speaks The Value of the Arts (Stories We Tell)
a seminal report outside perspective
a different view of the brand line in the sand
written in a language only we understand we will re-brand
to add value
achieve more in maths and reading confirmed
the arts sector like tourism and wine target
creative expression what does
in the end
why does it matter[?]
my pleasure to introduce the author
Strategic Planner Saatchi and Saatchi
‘TO BETTER COMMUNICATE’ From the Prime Minister
the role of the arts our love of the the Arts Australians and the Arts this report
Saachi and Saachi [sic] on behalf
of the Australia Council
Saatchi and Saactchi [sic] Found
key challenges facing
the Arts community
to better communicate
Saatchi and Saatchi
the Australia Council
to mould the presentation of the Arts the content
of what is produced
the way it is communicated
John Kelly: Skull / Alien, 2005, oil on canvas
From Mr…Strategic Planner Saatchi and Saatchi the term ‘the arts’ is very much a ‘brand’
strategies proposed in this study
are intended to redress what appear to be the deficiencies in that brand image
that the arts relates to the public with a ‘brand personality’ that has characteristically Australian qualities of being down-to-earth and accessible
The arts sector
might well take a leaf out of the modern Australian cookbook
to promote the value of the arts
will have the associated benefit of helping to bake ‘new audience cakes’
THE CENTRAL MESSAGE
FROM SAATCHI & SAATCHI
some Australians love the arts, others don’t
a message that reflects perceptions
Simple? Yes Obvious?
It is for readers to interpret for themselves how relevant this information is to their own lives and to their work.
From: …… <……@ozco.com.au>
To: ‘Ern Malley’ <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: RE: Ern Malley poem – The Value of the Arts Date: Wed, 27 Nov 2002 09:20:21 +1000
don’t send me this trash – it’s not clever
The above email was received from an Australia Council employee in response to some of the found poetry.
John Kelly: Steel Drawing, 2002, mild steel
From: ……. <…….@ozco.com.au>
To: ‘Ern Malley’ <email@example.com> Subject: RE: The Value of the Arts – Ern Malley poetry Date: Wed, 27 Nov 2002 11:03:38 +1000
Hey Cate- is this you dear one? It’s adorable!
The above email was received from an Australia Council employee in response to some of the found poetry.
John Kelly: Dark Rainbow, 2005, oil on canvas
C/- The Piccadilly Gallery
43 Dover St
London W1S 4NU
The Australian Prime Minister
The Right Honourable John Howard, MP C/- Parliament House Canberra 16/6/03
Re:Australians and the Arts – An Open Letter to the Prime Minister
Dear Prime Minister,
“Branding the Arts” was one of the key strategies developed from ‘Australians and the Arts’, a report by the British advertising agency Saatchi and Saatchi, commissioned on behalf of the Australia Council. In your speech to launch the report, you expressed the expectation it would, “…mould the presentation of the Arts, the content of what is produced, the way it is communicated…” The report helpfully advised; “The arts sector might well take a leaf out of the modern Australian cookbook.”
Ms Bott, C.E.O of the Australia Council, described ‘Australians and the Arts’ as a “seminal report” and a “line in the sand”, before declaring that the Australia Council would “re-brand”. They set about “…measuring the ‘value of the Arts’ and developing strategies to promote this value” describing these twin tasks as “demanding, though not impossible”.
Australian art has never before pursued a general brand image for what I would have thought were obvious reasons. ‘Branding’ is about homogeneity and conformity and therefore I object to the concept of ‘Branding the Arts’. It is entirely at odds with our rich, diverse
heritage and artistic culture. It raises the question; What will happen to all the art that does not fit the image of the new brand?
I am not alone in questioning ‘Branding’ and the methodology of the research report undertaken by Saatchi and Saatchi. Mr Kevin Roberts is a name, which may be familiar to you. He has strong views on ‘Branding’. Since 1997, Mr Roberts has been the worldwide C.E.O. of Saatchi and Saatchi. He is also an expert on this subject. He has stated; “The word ‘Brand’ has become virtually meaningless”. Saatchi & Saatchi themselves no longer support ‘branding’ as a strategy.
In recent speeches given around the world, and available at (<http://www.saatchikevin.com/>), Kevin Roberts raises some questions about brands and brand management describing the latter as; “…a ‘wannabe’ science that never was and never will be. It’s made up of definitions and charts; an obsession with metrics; researching to cover its ass instead of dreaming to innovate. Research vampires are running amok – they’re like Descartes on acid.” As if to illustrate Roberts’ point ‘Australians and the Arts’ was 450 pages of written text plus “more than 150 graphs and charts…” However, it is possible to summarise the $300,000 report in seven words; “…some Australians love the arts, others don’t…”
Kevin Roberts goes further stating; “Brands have been strangled by too much information, explanation and analysis. Their special friends, the research vampires, try to measure and manage emotion and behaviour with proprietary tools, programmes, matrices, hi- tech vocabulary. The fools.” He also thinks that; “…Brand Management is dead as a marketing practice.” Another well known corporate chief Michael Eisner of Disney has said that the word brand is “over-used, sterile and unimaginative.” Is this an appropriate approach to Australian art?
Australians and the Arts was supposedly a ‘quantitative and qualitative’ research report which was unable to define exactly what or who ‘the Arts’ were; “…there was little, if any, agreement about exactly what ‘the Arts’ comprised.” However they were able to define the term ‘the Arts’ a ‘brand’. They further elucidated; “From the perspective of philosophical, academic debate, there may be no need to be definitive about what constitutes the arts as long as no action follows such debate.”
Earlier this year, Ms Bott wrote; “The Saatchi and Saatchi report was a benchmark on Australians attitudes to the arts and has led to significant strategies in education and the arts, arts-media relations and other changes…” As Saatchi and Saatchi have destroyed the credibility of their own report and the Australia Council have not released any subsequent definition of what or who the arts are, these “significant strategies” must now surely be open to question.
Incredibly the Saatchi report advised the Australia Council to; “Make every effort to demystify the arts.” Art is a beautiful mystery! What would the Mona Lisa be without that ‘mysterious’ smile? Art evolves, grows, changes, surprises, subverts and challenges. It is by nature rebellious of ‘Branding’ and categorization. Again Kevin Roberts’ views clash with his company’s report for he says; “When nothing is sacred there is no mystery. And without mystery you are close, very close, to the end game. To misery.”
Australians and the Arts was published three years ago but according to Roberts; “Five years ago Saatchi & Saatchi figured that something was very wrong. It’s old news that brands are under pressure from commodification…” Sadly, art in Australia has been injured by this attempt at bureaucratic foolishness. Three years of art resources have been wasted on this report and subsequent strategies. This can never be retrieved. Kevin Roberts may have had the Australia Council in mind when he said; “It was weird to see so much brand-speak swallowed whole during the last few years.” If the Australia Council senior management continue on this path they risk being ‘branded’ fools themselves!
So this is a plea for diversity, against the out-of-date ‘Branding’ concept with its attentive bureaucratic hegemony that decides whether art fits its arbitrary mould and is good enough to display the official Australian art logo. From my experience with how the Arts are successfully promoted in other countries, there are a number of practical alternatives to “Branding the Arts” and I’d be more than willing to share them with you or your colleagues.
Finally, after much reading, I found something within the report that might explain the bizarre cookbook quote at the beginning of this letter; “…to promote the value of the arts to all Australians will have the associated benefit of helping to bake ‘new audience cakes’.” Indeed something is cooking in the Australian Arts but before it becomes a ‘bland brand’ meal I think the chef should be replaced.
Yours sincerely John Kelly
Dear Mr Kelly
the Prime Minister
would like to thank you
for your correspondence… regarding Saatchi and Saatchi’s review
Mr Howard appreciates the time
you have taken However he regrets. he is unable to respond
to ensure that issues
receive the attention they deserve,
I have referred your correspondence to the Minister for the Arts
given that he is responsible…
Dear Mr Kelly
Thank you for your letters to the Prime Minister concerning
the Saatchi and Saatchi review
The Prime Minister
has referred your correspondence to the Minister for the Arts
portfolio responsibility for this matter
The Minister has asked me to respond on his behalf Your comments….have been noted
and will be conveyed
to the Australia Council.
From: Kevin Roberts <Kroberts@…….com>
Date: Saturday, 18 October 2003 12:08 AM Subject: your email
Great poetic re-edit!
Saatchi & Saatchi
“2003 Global Agency of the Year”
— Advertising Age and Adweek
Australia Council Fellowship Application 2005
2.2) The objectives of the Fellowship and previous experience.
- 1) 11 years of exhibiting in Europe.
- 2) 18 years of exhibiting in Australia
- 3) 2 Major international sculpture exhibitions in Europe.
In 2000, the Australia Council for the Arts commissioned a special report costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. The report researched the role of the arts, our love of the arts and was appropriately called ‘Australians and the Arts’. The author of the report, Saatchi and Saatchi, declared the term ‘the arts’ is very much a ‘brand’ and strategies proposed in this study are intended to redress what appear to be deficiencies in the brand image.
The importance of the report was reflected in the Prime Minister’s speech at its launch. John Howard stated that he wanted it to mould the presentation of the Arts, the content of what is produced, the way it is communicated. He also declared that the key challenge facing the Arts community was that The Arts needed to better communicate. John Howard’s speech was proudly displayed on the Australia Council web site, until that is, it was discovered the PM’s message was wedged between two spelling mistakes (not to mention the split infinitive).
Based on this report, the Australia Council created an important strategy titled Branding the Arts and began to promote the idea through ‘new media’. An OZCO web site stated that: In considering ways to improve the negative associations some Australians make with the two-word phrase ‘the Arts’ we are looking at repositioning the Arts. The Executive Summary of Promoting the Value of the Arts put forward this advice; Broaden the definition of the Arts so that it is seen as relevant to all Australians; to break down ‘one monolithic definition of the Arts’, but not so broad as to be meaningless. And: – We don’t need one central campaign, but 250 campaigns saying the same thing.
There was also this suggestion: Artists need to think about who their art is produced for. If there was a swing in attitudes towards the Arts, the industry must be product-ready … Good product needs to be relevant and meaningful.
As an Australian artist, this seminal and challenging report, or outside perspective and different view of the brand, forms the basis of my Fellowship proposal. Put simply it created a line in the sand and challenged my pre-conceived notions of what the Arts were about. For I had always understood art was about diversity and was contrary to the branding concept, which ultimately leads to conformity (historically countries who have successfully branded their arts are Nazi Germany and the now defunct Soviet Union). Although deeply suspicious of the attempt to ‘Brand the Arts’, I set about exploring this Australian bureaucratic landscape because I wanted to be product-ready as well as relevant and meaningful.
To exist in this seemingly contradictory position I needed reassurance and found it in Bland, a character in ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’, the Le Carré novel who explained: An artist is a bloke who can hold two fundamentally opposing views and still function. He was of course quoting Scott Fitzgerald.
The concepts put forward by the Australia Council inspired some found poetry, which was sent to staff at the Australia Council (because they asked for and encourage feedback) using new technology and media (e-mail). The response from one person at the Australia Council to my poetry was not encouraging. It said; “Fuckhead don’t send me this crap – it’s not clever”. Obviously my poetry ‘product’ was not ready because the CEO described it as ‘spam’ (unsolicited junk)! Although surprised at this response it was not the first time the CEO had criticised my work. She had also written that conclusions I had drawn were incorrect but failed to explain why. In my defence and as you well know, drawing and writing no longer are a necessary prerequisite in the making of relevant and meaningful contemporary art. Luckily, being an artist, I have organisational flexibility, which it seems I will need if I am to succeed in driving arts innovation.
Australians and the Arts was a quantitative and qualitative report. The information obtained from the report enabled the Australia Council to unpack the monolithic-sounding phrase ‘the Arts’ in the mind of every individual. This was necessary because the term the Arts tends to have a meaning rarely questioned, which is extremely indeterminate. One of the reasons for this is because the language of art is often written in a language only we understand. To redress this problem the Saatchi and Saatchi strategic planner recommended that the Arts needed to relate to the public with a brand personality that has characteristically Australian qualities of being down-to-earth and accessible. Other advice from Saatchi and Saatchi included: the arts sector might well take a leaf out of the modern Australian cookbook. Acting upon this strategy will have the associated benefit of helping to bake ‘new audience cakes’.
Based on this advice, I am now using the image of the kangaroo (both accessible and also found in some Australian cookbooks) and also a stylised sun represented by an open circular form. Although demanding, I believe my attempt at making art is not an impossible task and may have an added community value. For it has been confirmed that the Arts help children achieve more in maths and reading. Unfortunately there is no data relating to spelling or other grammar.
The knowledge this Fellowship contributes will show our community how in shaping a vision, international advertising companies, such as Saatchi & Saatchi, have a role to play in the stories we Australians tell. Their central message was: some Australians love the arts and others don’t. A message that, seemingly, reflected perceptions. Simple? Yes. Obvious.
Reference 118671 Project Officer…
1 August 2005
Dear Mr Kelly
I am writing concerning your application to the Visual Arts/Craft Board of the Australia Council…
On its behalf, I regret to advise…
The Australia Council continues to receive many more applications than it is able to fund…