Saturday, October 27, 2012

An open letter to the 2013 Walkley Review Committee in advocacy of Arts journalism

I publicly post my submission to the 2013 Walkley review committee in the hope that others who agree with my sentiments will be inspired to compose their own submission. This is an important issue for supporters of the Arts in Australia. Let's have the value of Arts journalism reflected in our national journalism awards body.

To the 2013 Walkley review board,

I was a journalist at for two years and now intern as a publicist for the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre in Sydney's south-west. I'm also a final year BA (media and communications) student at the University of Sydney.

My niche interest area is Arts journalism. At, I covered events like the Helpmann Awards and wrote lengthy features about exciting movements within the industry (such as Australia as an upcoming destination for pre-Broadway and West End shows).

There are other arts journalists, like Elissa Blake, Karl Quinn, and Matthew Westwood, who unfailingly support the Arts through comprehensive and engaging journalism.

Without Arts journalism, the creative industries of Australia have a small voice and few platforms in which to voice their concerns and advertise their products. If certain companies do have a voice, it is because they are investing millions in marketing; a luxury some cannot afford. The trailblazers of our generation need audiences and exposure to have their effect on society; to challenge, enlighten, and entertain in innovative ways.

Arts journalism also fosters a community of art/theatre/dance/music-loving audiences. This community thrives on a sense of belonging and inclusiveness that is the fabric of a vibrant country. Broadway is Broadway because of the people and their supportive networks, not because of the rocks and mortar holding the place together. Arts journalism is a necessary supportive network for these artists and their audiences.

The Arts is necessary for society in the same way that we need clean air and green spaces. The Arts give people a way to express themselves; to communicate their greatest triumphs and most bitter downfalls with others who can relate to and learn from their humanity. There are also proven health, educational, economic and political benefits.

The list goes on, but, hopefully the value of the Arts and Arts journalism is becoming clear.

In light of this, then, it is saddening that there is no appreciation of the value of Arts journalism in the Walkley Awards. There are categories for business, international, investigative, Indigenous, sports, social equity, and opinion journalism. There are even awards for the best headline. But, no award for Arts journalism. Awards for travel and technology journalism are also absent, but, at least these niches have their own awards (The Lizzies for technology and ASTW for travel).

In 2013, it would be thrilling to see an award category for Arts journalism in the "All media" section. Hopefully this submission has played some part in justifying the need and value for such an award.

The Walkleys are a respected and widely-acknowledged system of praising good journalism. Let's make it a more inclusive national awards body by including an award for Arts journalism.

Kind regards,

Maryann Wright

Those who wish to make a submission to the Walkley Review Committee can do so here: Submissions close on Friday December 7, 2012.

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