What’s at stake for the Australian culture when journalism, critique and even art are increasingly treated as content to fill institutionalised structures?

The recent Fairfax cuts exposed more than just a flailing company’s unimaginative approach to securing talented journalists or innovating on their business model. The cuts exposed the extent to which journalism is deprioritised in favour of developing content templates as sellable products. Content, not news or investigation, has emerged as the company’s focus, with templates like Domain driving the business. And while it seems anathema to treat the public interest in this way, this language is not out of place even in the arts. The “shopping trolley” approach to programming international festivals has long since ceased to be a joke; the nation’s major performing arts centres and galleries accommodate content that fits their stages, floors or walls; the institution’s structures determine the work that is seen.

What does the future hold for art and journalism? What role and what ethical responsibility does the cultural institution bear – even when it fails to recognise itself as a cultural institution? And what’s at stake for the Australian culture if institutions fail to rethink their motives and their models?…

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