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July 6, 2022

Tweed author stirs Sydney art-gallery nobs with new book

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Margot Anhtony (left), arts campaigner and wife of former deputy prime minister Doug Anthony, with author Judith White during the launch at Kingscliff this week of Ms White's new controversial book 'Culture Heist - Art versus Money'. Photo Alex Mitchell
Margot Anthony (left), arts campaigner and wife of former deputy prime minister Doug Anthony, with author Judith White during the launch at Kingscliff this week of Ms White’s new controversial book ‘Culture Heist – Art versus Money’. Photo Alex Mitchell

A former Sydney arts administrator now living in the Tweed Valley has provoked an uproar in the arts scene with a new book revealing how the Art Gallery of NSW management is in crisis and ‘obsessed’ with its new grandiose gallery plan.

Judith White’s book, Culture Heist: Art versus Money was launched to a packed audience at Kingscliff’s Boardwalk Bookshop on Monday night by Margot Anthony, wife of former deputy prime minister Doug Anthony, who strongly recommended the book.

Ms White served as executive director of the gallery’s members’ organisation, the NSW Art Gallery Society, for more than 10 years and written an insider’s account of the issues plaguing the gallery management.

These include successive government cuts to the gallery’s budget and staff, hiring expensive private consultants, and the growing outsourcing of core responsibilities to private contractors.

Mrs Anthony, a longtime campaigner for the arts, congratulated Ms White on her book, saying it was ‘a heartfelt, angry, passionate plea for art for art’s sake, not for the sake of corporations and money’.

Ms White said the current management of the AGNSW had become ‘obsessed’ with the grandiose project to replace the current gallery with Sydney Modern, at an estimated budget of $360 million.

She said that although the ‘vanity project’ had been unveiled four years ago, there was still no sign of government or private funding.

Layout 1The whole process had been ‘shrouded in secrecy’ and staff were ‘afraid’ to express their opinions.

Ms White called on the government-appointed trustees to suspend the Sydney Modern plan and start again on a realistic design and budgeting proposal.

‘I suggest this can only be achieved by the widest possible consultation in the arts community here and overseas where many museums are having identical problems with funding and corporate grandstanding,’ she said.

Former NSW Governor, Professor Dame Marie Bashir, has endorsed the book on its back cover, saying: ‘Judith White has written with first hand experience and passion about the centrality of every society’s need for a vibrant artistic culture’.

To order the book, visit: www.cultureheist.com.au





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