Whether, in retrospect, the pro forma below would be regarded as quixotic or not, some three hundred letters were issued and five replies received. This, in turn, inspired the next letter, “If You Have Received This Letter…” The sheer bareness of “The Wall” proved comment enough without needing the barbed wit of Patrick Hutchings who opened the accompanying “Arts & Industry” exhibition by questioning the ampersand of its title.
 LETTER ONE: THE WALL
[July 1998] [Name] [Address]
In November 1998, Deakin University and Theatreworks will be holding the third “Double Dialogues” conference on the theme of “Arts & Industry.”
Apart from papers and performances presented by leading performing and visual artists and representatives from industry, space will be allocated to an accompanying exhibition of works dealing with the theme of “Arts & Industry.” Part of this exhibition will involve the construction of “The Wall“, to be opened on Wednesday, 25th November 1998, 5.00-7.30 p.m.
“The Wall” will consist of icons or logos from organisations known to have supported the arts during the past five years.
Your organisation has been nominated as a possible contributor. If you wish to be represented on “The Wall,” please send us a screed, logo, or icon between A5 and A3 in size together with a cheque for $50.00 to help defray the costs of the installation and of the refereed issue of the “Double Dialogues” journal on the “Arts & Industry” theme.
As the exhibition will receive media attention, you might wish to give particular attention to the visual impact of your design. Photographs of “The Wall” will be widely distributed in the weeks leading up to the “Double Dialogues” conference.
Leading Australian artists have been asked to participate in the exhibition and “The Wall” itself is to be a central installation of the exhibition. The Australian artist Deborah Walker and photographer Anthony Green will be responsible for the layout of submissions.
If you wish to be represented at this forthcoming “Double Dialogues” conference on “Arts & Industry,” please submit your material by Monday, 31st August, together with your remittance – made payable to Theatreworks (Double Dialogues Account) – to:
Att’n: Mr Paul Monaghan & Dr Ann McCulloch,
P.O. Box 1205
St Kilda South, VIC, 3182.
As there is limited space, we would appreciate your early reply.
For your information, we are also enclosing a brief concerning this year’s “Double Dialogue” conference.
 LETTER TWO: IF YOU HAVE RECEIVED THIS LETTER YOU WILL BE LISTED ON THE REGISTER OF CULTURAL ORGANISATIONS!
Dear Recipient of this Letter,
I hope you don’t mind receiving this letter. Your organisation is listed on the Register of Cultural Organisations in Canberra. And that’s why I believe you may be interested in the brochure I have enclosed.
Each year Deakin University and Theatreworks collaborate on the presentation of a Conference called DOUBLE DIALOGUES. The aim of the conferences is to bring together members of the academic and arts communities to discuss areas of common concern. It is an unusual conference in that it is performance-based; the idea is that 50% or more of each paper involves either live or recorded performance. Our other major focus is to keep art as the centre of the Conference rather than management.
This year, the third such event, is called ARTS & INDUSTRY, and will take place over two days: Friday and Saturday November 27 & 28, 1998. It deals with an area of great concern for many of us. With Governments squeezing the funding dollar and pushing us in the direction of “Industry” for support, we need to examine what is happening to the art in this relationship.
There is a high quality Exhibition accompanying the Conference, which opens on Wednesday November 25th at 6.30pm. We would be happy to see you there.
BUT THERE IS SOMETHING ELSE I WANT TO ASK YOU TO DO!
Two integral aspects of the Conference and Exhibition are The Wall and The Basket Cases. The Wall is a large panel on which we will be displaying logos of companies who have given money to the arts (and who have paid us a very small amount of money to place their logos there!). Around these there will be a much larger display of rejection letters (both to our letter about The Wall, and anyone else’s letters asking for support – yours for example).
The Basket Cases are a small group of performers who will be weaving some satirical material through the two days proceedings. The material will be compiled from a number of sources – including your kind replies to this letter.
What I am looking for is a sample of your more remarkable rejection letters, or stories from your interaction with Industry. For example, one company told me they were in the middle of performing at a corporate event, when they were hauled up to the Director’s office and told “You’re too ugly – get out !” On another occasion they were asked to make their touring vehicle more colourful.
You don’t have to put names to the rejections – you don’t even have to give me your company’s name if you don’t want to. What I am interested in is the attempt to change art to make it more acceptable to the sponsor (or potential sponsor). And, amongst those fabulous reasons, why Industry is unfortunately unable to support your project or organisation on this occasion.
You could send a copy of your best rejection letter (for display on The Wall) or email material to the Theatreworks address as listed at the bottom of the first page of this letter.
I hope you will find the time to send me some information, as well of course to attend the Conference.
Yours sincerely[Double Dialogues]
 THE FLIER
in partnership with
the exhibition accompanies the ‘double dialogues’ conference : arts + industry
Who sponsors the arts?
What kinds of works are supported?
Is there a meeting ground?
|Craig Barrett||Anthony Chiappin||Ian Ferguson|
|Simon Fisher||Gordon Flynn||Anthony Green|
|Joanne Hall||Kate McCulloch||Paul Meehan|
|John Spooner||Robert Stemp||Neil Taylor|
|Bibi Viro||Deborah Walker||Stephen Wickham|
You are all welcome to attend the
OPENING: WEDNESDAY, 25 NOVEMBER 6.30 PM by
with Karen Berger (vocalist) & Elissa Goodrich (percussionist)
Gallery hours: Thursday, 26th – Saturday 28th, 12pm-5pm
At: Theatreworks, 14 Acland Street. St. Kilda
(Melways ref: 58 A 10)
Gold coin entry
 THE AFTERMATH
Following the “Arts & Industry” conference in November 1998, “Double Dialogues” held a fourth performance-based conference, “Culture Wars: War on Culture, Culture at War,” at Melbourne’s Trades Union Hall in April 2000 in which we continued to investigate ways artistic visions and practices could or could not be accommodated within the academy.
It is worth recalling here that “Double Dialogues” emerged at a time when universities were taking over arts schools. This has had vast ramifications for funding and for determining what constitutes research. ‘Research,’ not ‘art,’ was—and is—to be funded.
The aim of the fourth “Culture Wars” conference—a collaboration of the Schools of Literary & Communication Studies and of Contemporary Arts at Deakin University with the School of Studies in Creative Arts then at the Victorian College of the Arts—was to extend the dimensions of our ‘double dialogue’ by looking at how various kinds of artistic practice and research are marginalised, constrained, even regulated within the academy, the so-called culture ‘industry,’ let alone the community at large.
The rallying cry of the initial briefing email was:
We need cartographers from every field of the arts to show each other the maps that are being drawn, that explore not “consensus” but the topography of untravelled terrains. We are at war politically and aesthetically. Whether we like it or not, those of us committed to the arts are faced with a political struggle.
The call for groups of up to eight whether in dance or digital arts, film or theatre, music or writing, painting or sculpture was seen as an opportunity, for example, to:
- explore inter-disciplinarity within and between schools
- identify distinctive ‘research cultures’ of schools or departments
- examine ways different artforms approach a common idea about Culture Wars
- gain a wider understanding of what was happening in arts practice and arts research
Included in briefing notes were possible questions or themes of the following kind:
Does my art speak for the marginalised?
“We know that [insert as desired], so we don’t need to see it on the stage”: is this valid?
Is all art theft?
“I’ve been here four times already and this show disgusts me more each time I see it”
Religion, sacred truths, and art: what should be the limits on artistic representation?
Is ‘postmodernist’ art a betrayal?
Does the Australian funding system regulate and control art? Do governments make art?
Erotica and art…natural bedfellows?
Should art be exempt from communal values and norms?
Whatever happened to class warfare and the arts?
When is the avant-garde no longer the avant-garde?
Can art only move forward over the corpses of its forebears?
Is all art either remembrance or prophesy?