It's that time of the year again...not that it is really on my radar. But I acknowledge that many people, perhaps including you, are concerned with the outcome of the State of Origin Rugby League series. Like I said, it is totally not on my radar to the extent that on a couple of occasions, I have inadvertently worn blue to work on match day. A mistake of Biblical proportions, apparently, because doing so meant that I was in support of NSW, and as a Queenslander, how could I? Yes, Queenslanders are all about their NRL and that's partly because Queenslanders appear to be good at it. We often win the State of Origin, and so the perception is that we as a state are good at football. If only that perception could extend to other past times.
A couple of days ago, I read an article (on the ABC news website, so reasonably reputable) which was about how Queensland actors were being overlooked for films made in Queensland. According to Queensland actors, filmmakers seem to be of the opinion that actors from Sydney or Melbourne are of a higher calibre and are consequently more likely to employ them than locally grown talent. That's despite the fact that a host of well regarded (on a global scale, no less) actors hail from the Sunshine State. They include Margot Robbie, Ben and Josh Lawson, Geoffrey Rush, Matt Passmore, Michael Caiton, Miranda Otto, Harriet Dyer and a host of others. These actors are proof that locally grown talent is just as good as that from the southern states, and yet, they report that they either have to relocate or pretend that they have in order to get the same respect as their southern counterparts.
I would argue that the same applies to other kinds of artists who hail from sunny Queensland. I have long maintained that Queensland based visual artists are also somewhat on the outer. In fact I came close to having an argument with a rep from the Australia Council (Federal arts grant body) over this fact when I mentioned that it seemed that people from NSW or Victoria were far more successful at winning grants than Queenslanders. He maintained that was because Queenslanders didn't apply in the same numbers as those from other states. If that's the case, perhaps it is because Queensland artists see little point in applying for grants they are not going to get.
It's part of the cultural cringe that seems to be associated with Queensland. I am, of course, not saying that Queenslanders are not as talented, don't work as hard or are better trained than those from other states. I am not even suggesting that every Queenslander is more interested in the football score than they are in art and culture. But, there are definitely fewer opportunities for artists, despite the enormous amount of talent and creativity here. If you compare the opportunity lists on Arts websites with that of NSW and Victoria, even WA, Queensland has significantly fewer listings - maybe one for more than ten from the other states.
Arts experts on councils know that cultural tourism is not just a thing, but an opportunity to bring money into their regions. But those people are often up against decision makers who do not consider the arts to be important at all. I have even heard a representative from my local council say that the "arts people" are the last ones to be considered in future plans and the first ones crossed off the list if there is any competition for financial resources. Now sporting clubs...that's a whole other story!
There is a perception that the arts don't contribute to the economic bottom line. That has been proven over and over again to be a complete untruth. Artists of all sorts often take the initiative, creating opportunities and doing their best to help others out. They are often the ones who give their time to raise money for those who are doing it tough. Actors in Queensland have begun solving their problem by making their own films and creating their own opportunities. Queenslanders are good at that as well. So next time you come across an artist who is doing their best by creating their own opportunities, getting their work out there and trying to make the world a better place, give them your support. Maybe that means going to an exhibition, buying some of their work or passing their name on to someone who is interested in whatever it is they do. Queensland artists are as good as those from anywhere else!