WOMADelaide 2017

The sprinkling of rain at the start of this year’s WOMADelaide didn’t do much to quell excitement. A rather good lineup, delicious food stalls, and friendly crowd in Botanic Park all returned to the four day world music festival.

I find it difficult to quantify WOMAD weekends; they’re reliably wonderful experiences and each year the highlights are unexpected, but this felt like a particularly good year. Continue reading

Five paradoxes about the state of the media

We are living in a time full of threats – and unprecedented possibilities, especially when it comes to the state of the media. Let’s consider five paradoxes, in no particular order.

Is print dead or reviving?

Rumours of the death of print magazines and newspapers have been circulating for years – but many of us are still here. What’s more, we are seeing signs of a renaissance in independent, alternative print magazines and hyperlocal newspapers.

The internet, that great disrupting technology, has prompted print’s decline, cannibalizing the revenue of publishers. After all, why buy news in print when you get it all for free online? The proportion of readers actually prepared to pay for news online (nine per cent) cannot replace those who used to buy print.1

But the internet has also been amazing for media like ours. In the days before the worldwide web, we never imagined that two million people a year would be reading our content and getting our kind of journalism, rooted in social, economic, global and environmental justice. Continue reading

A chat with Sir Tim Smit – co-founder of the Eden Project

Today I had a chat with Sir Tim Smit, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of the Eden Project, ahead of his forthcoming presentation for the Planet Talks at WOMADelaide 2017.

In the prologue to his book, Eden, two sentences stand out, and they sum up the spirit of our chat: “Neither do I make any apology for being optimistic about the future. I am.”

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Book launch: The Abyssinian Contortionist – by David Carlin

I am delighted to be able to launch David’s book here in Adelaide – particularly as so many of you will remember him from his previous life as a South Australian playwright and theatre director.

David’s first acclaimed book, Our Father Who Wasn’t There, was connected to his early theatre writings performed at the Red Shed, but The Abyssinian Contortionist is a new departure.  It is – as he describes it – his first not-me book.

I got so much pleasure from reading the unexpected twists and turns of this story – particularly when I reached the heart of the book, David’s second visit to Ethiopia -that I don’t want to give too much away.

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Leard Blockade – Maules Creek coal mine

A few months ago, I left my home in Adelaide and travelled up to Maules Creek, New South Wales. I’ve never been much of a wanderer, but when I heard that Whitehaven was working on the largest coal mine currently under construction in Australia in the middle of the Leard State Forest, I realised that things were pretty serious.

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The casual racism of carnivores

Every time racism seems to have run out of places to hide, national debates inevitably kick aside a stone and reveal a new refuge. One of Britain’s latest tabloid apoplexies has centred on the question, posed by the EU, of whether meat should be labelled with the slaughter method of the animal involved, including dhabihah halal (Muslim) and shechita (Jewish). The Daily Mail informed its readers – The horror! The horror! – that ‘Millions are eating halal food without knowing it.’ Last year, it was the horsemeat scandal that was making The Mail’s readers choke in outrage on their morning bacon.

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Hugh Masekela – WOMADelaide

“There are no legends” were Hugh Masekela’s parting words from the main stage at WOMADelaide 2013, after the MC had declared “what a legend”, following the extraordinary performance from the 74-year-old giant of African music.

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Mary Meets Mohammad

I’ve just seen a remarkable movie.

It’s not remarkable in the way that movies are usually remarkable – mind-blowing graphics; intricate plot-lines; mega-star performances; astonishing budgets – none of that.

The thing that sets this movie apart is the enormity of its humanity.

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The new land grab

Neo-liberalism is a hungry beast and this 21st Century strain of capitalism is shaping the agenda for control of Aboriginal lands.

You only have to listen to Professor Marcia Langton’s Boyer Lectures on ABC Radio or read Noel Pearson’s sermons on acquisition to see how this virulent form of free-market fundamentalism has gathered influential adherents, including policy makers in both political parties.

Australian Government policy is heavily influenced by neo-liberalism through its extraordinary emphasis on managing access for mining companies to resources on Aboriginal lands. This involves controlling what is still perceived as ‘the Aboriginal problem’ and forcing a social transition from traditional values and Cultural practice to ‘mainstream’ modernism of a particular brand. It also involves displacing many Aboriginal people from their traditional lands and concentrating them in ‘growth towns’.

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