programme has been a state government initiative for some years. The idea was to invite "eminent" people from outside the state, indeed the country, to take up short periods of residency here and suggest how we might do things better, implement things, expand things, begin things etc.
There have been experts from the social sciences and the sciences, transport, law, health, sport and education. Baroness Greenfield was one lively participant.
The programme is now going to cease. When asked why the member of the government responsible for running the programme said that it had run its course. There was no other area they felt needed to be investigated.
I think it says everything about how seriously the government takes the arts. There has never been a Thinker in Residence for the arts. It has, apparently, never been considered important enough to warrant anyone actually thinking about the arts - or even about non-sporting recreation.
Very little attention is actually given to non-sporting recreation. It is, I think, assumed that people will entertain themselves. If they do not wish to play or watch sport then they really do - perhaps - need much attention. The fact that more people use libraries each week than play or watch sport is something the government chooses to ignore. They provide libraries because they must but they do not spend the same amount on libraries as they do on the hallowed city oval, home of cricket. Other forms of recreation do not receive the same media coverage or the same sponsorship.
I do not suppose that, after my post about the lack of a library in a high school, this should come as any surprise. It is however an indication of how little regard is given to the recreational needs of the population as a whole. They struggle to find places to meet and many now struggle to keep up membership numbers. If you want to play chess these days you apparently do it via the internet. There is no need to turn up and enjoy meeting fellow enthusiasts. If you want to grow roses or succulents then the information is there on the internet - presuming you have the time to garden. If you want to search your family tree then you can access a genealogy data base - or two or three. And, of course, if you want to watch sport then it is there on multiple channels via your satellite connection as well as the free-to-air television broadcasts.
It all isolates people very nicely. It makes them easier to control. Groups of any sort are, after all, dangerous are they not?
I think we needed a Thinker in Residence for the arts and crafts. We needed someone who would tell the government how important it is for people to be exposed to creativity and to be creative themselves. We needed someone who would say, "You must do this."
The latest budget for the state was delivered yesterday. We are deeply in debt. Things are now worse than they were when the State Bank collapsed. The Treasurer has still found the money for some items we do not need. That will always happen. He has not found money for increased library services or the arts and crafts. Sport? Oh yes, the oval redevelopment will go ahead although a majority of voters were against it.
Where oh where was a Thinker in Residence to tell the government that unless it nurtures creativity our state will go into further decline?