Sunday, November 13, 2011

When the charitable sector takes money from the mining sector

Sometimes artists and charities who take money from mining companies in Western Australia give the game away.

This story Mining Company cash creates movie making boom  appeared on the ABC TV program Stateline WA on Friday November 4 and demonstrates that the primary reason for the "philanthropic" activity of the mining industry in WA is self interest.

The message is very clear- we will sponsor you but you must not speak certain truths about the industry. In other words the mining industry buys the silence and acquiesence of those it sponsors.

Listen to the journalists and artists in the ABC story who make it very clear that with the money comes conditions and the expectation is that you must show the mining industry in a favourable light.

Show the mining industry in a less than favourable light in their eyes or speak certain truths about the industry and you can say goodbye to the sponsorship.

One interviewer put it this way:

" We can't say we want you to sponsor us but the script says you are unscrupulous swines who rape and pillage the land..... they see the first draft of the script....... they don't want the industry shown in an unfavourable light..... you don't bite the hand that feeds you".
Of course this story reflects a much larger issue- the way that the mining industry and corporations in WA are using their money and power to shape the arts and cultural industry and the charitable sector to serve their corporate interests.

This article by Rosemary Neill provides an insight into the corporate takeover of the arts and cultural industry and charitable sector in WA:
In a harbinger of this, some of the country's most powerful businesspeople have teamed up with artists and launched a new, turbo-charged arts lobby, the Chamber of Arts and Culture, aimed at developing a coherent cultural vision for WA. Among the chamber's founding members are Rio Tinto iron ore chief executive Sam Walsh, prominent arts patron and businesswoman Janet Holmes a Court, former WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry boss John Langoulant, KPMG national executive director Helen Cook and former Australia Council chairwoman Margaret Seares.

An alliance of high-powered executives -- some drawn from the blokey resources and engineering sectors -- intent on proselytising for the arts is a first not just for the West but, arguably, for the nation. Walsh says this move signifies that "the state is growing; there is a need for a more creative and vibrant community and arts and culture will help us deliver that and help us attract people. I think the stars are aligned . . . we have a unique opportunity in Perth and WA's history, building on the mining boom, to work on these things." The unfailingly courteous Rio Tinto boss says the chamber has received "very strong support" from Day and federal Arts Minister Simon Crean. He stresses it is not merely an arts lobby; that it will engage with governments, the regions, schools and untapped audiences to spread the word about culture.

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