List Overview

The world of Arts and Culture

Wherever you sit on the scale between rabid culture vulture and unrefined philistine, chances are you've come across those who have made our Arts and Culture Top Ten.

Together, they foster how Australians tell stories and share the human experience. And they help determine what 'culture' means to us in 2012. 

This isn't just another la-di-dah pageant of high-art luvvies or cashed-up medicis (although there are some of those).

Our Top Ten features power-wielders who are making a difference right across arts and culture: including visual art, stage, screen, philanthropy, publishing, music and government support.

And though some of those we've put up in lights may come from the more conventional artforms, we understand there's an increasingly blurred line between all forms of culture.

In that respect, The Power Index has tipped its hat to those pushing the boundaries of both traditional and contemporary forms of art.

Still, there is a case to be made for those at the top of the popular (and well-funded) cultural pursuits possessing a lot of the power in this country.

And regardless of who takes the No. 1 spot (and whether A. A. Phillips' cultural cringe still exists), The Power Index believes Australia has a vibrant and thriving arts and culture sphere.

What can the powerful in Arts and Culture do?

  • Make or break up-and-coming and established artists
  • Come up with original creative concepts to change how we percieve art (and even make it popular)
  • Win funding and assistance from the government, whether through tax rebates, grants or territorial protection for local operators
  • Help prop up creative industries suffering from a strong Australian dollar
  • Become the darlings of local critics, increasing their reputation in the notoriously bitchy art world
  • Publicly subsidise artists and art organisations to help them make, show and sell art
  • Use personal wealth to support (or subvert) the major arts companies
  • Give a voice to powerful (and not so powerful) people to tell their stories
  • Australia still suffers from an inferiority complex when it comes to its art, plaudits from overseas critics help

Why are they powerful?

  • Money. Whether it's through government funding, corporate sponsorship, philanthropy or punters lining up at the box office, the organisations and players with the fattest chequebook typically have the biggest chance to make an impact.
  • Original ideas. When it comes to making content for something like television, we put more weight behind those who are coming up with original ideas, not just the production houses importing the latest cooking show.
  • Cultural capital. It's not something that can be bought or sold, but cultural capital can be invaluable help for a power player trying to make their next venture work.
  • Work ethic. As in many areas of life, it's usually those in the big chair who are the first to arrive and last to leave. Arts and culture is no different.
  • Popularity. Like it or not, popularity counts. That's not to say we've decided to only include 'popular culture' on our list. But if you can make something that seems doomed for obscurity a raging success, more power to you.

*Read our no. 10 profile, Australia Council CEO Kathy Keele.

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