Jon calls for arts champ

Strathnairn president Anita McIntyre.

Anita McIntyre, Jon Stanhope and Michael Sainsbury.

EVEN the sudden downpour couldn’t dampen the spirits at Strathnairn Homestead’s refurbished woolshed on Friday when the president of Strathnairn Arts Association, Anita McIntyre, welcomed former ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope as the organisation’s new patron.

Mr Stanhope was remarkably outspoken as he explained to the assembled members of the ACT arts community how he had manoeuvred to get a vegie patch on the surrounding farm in exchange for his duties as patron.

He said he’d already been busy, having talked ActewAGL into making a $5000 input into the Strathnairn foundry, where bronze casting workshops would begin soon.

Mr Stanhope pulled no punches as he told of his disappointment in the way the community had rejected his initiatives in public art and his regret that he given in too easily.

In his view, the Canberra arts community was too acquiescent. He said in his five to six years as arts minister, most of the initiatives had come from his own ideas, not from suggestions by arts community members, who had rarely been forthcoming.

“What we need is a clear spokesperson for the arts,” Mr Stanhope said. He added that he had looked towards the Loxton reports, commissioned to look at the arts and festivals, but said he feared that the results of the report would not prove suitable for Canberra.

Although he was spending most of his time planting potatoes and pumpkins and planning an orchard, he said he had become the patron of other arts organisations such as Canberra Youth Theatre and the Belconnen Arts Centre.

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