Occident Prone

Welcome to Australia’s wild West

Building a western bohemia

Posted by occidentprone on May 7, 2008

Here at Occident Prone we’ve become mired in party politics. It was never our intention and we’d hate to end up with an American-style political arena where affairs and other hanky-panky overshadow the nitty gritty of policy and substance. So let’s take a breather from the hot and heavy and talk arts.

Alan Carpenter’s government seems well aware of its awesome responsibility of state building. All those mining royalties rolling in – let’s do something big, they’re saying, let’s do something grand. And for that they should be commended. Alannah McTiernan is at the forefront, pick in hand turning the sods to give us the Mandurah railway. Next stop Perth city waterfront, a grand plan for a world famous deadspot.

Perthwaterfront.com.au   Perthwaterfront.com.au

While the designer’s mental picture of what should happen on the foreshore is up for debate – and let’s have lots of it – at least someone somewhere is saying this is something worth fixing up. 

Let’s stop loving the big country town image and embrace all the sophistication and cosmopolitanism that comes with wealth and migrants. From these things grow ideas, culture, a collective self-confidence and an inner wealth as well as outer gads of cash.

The so-called creative underclass might not be the ones swanning about the restaurants and fancy bits on the foreshore but they will be tapping into any pathology that lurks beneath. And any city worth its salty air needs writers, painters, songwriters winding stories and fables and images from its streets and sordid past. (Not to mention our sordid present – there’s fodder enough for a three-book deal right there.)

The state government is also to be lauded loudly for its commitment to an international literary award.

Mr Carpenter said the inaugural Western Australian Premier’s Australia-Asia Literary Award, worth $110,000, had the power to excite and expand the State’s cultural horizons.

Culture and Arts Minister Sheila McHale said the award was part of the Carpenter Government’s exciting $73million ‘Ignite!’ package, the biggest single State Government arts funding injection designed to transform literature, dance, theatre, music and visual arts.

The award is open to any book-length work of literary fiction published in print or electronically – something recognising the increasing predominance of electronic media, such as online and mobile phone formats.

The judging panel will consist of three renowned authors and literary experts drawn from some of the nominating countries. They include Pakistani born and multi-award winning author, Kamila Shamsie, author of ‘Kartography’ and ‘Broken Verses’ and Sri Lankan born, Hong Kong based columnist and founder of the ‘Asia Literary Review’, Nury Vittachi.

“This award is a fabulous vote of confidence which I know will kick-start a writing revolution,” Mr Vittachi said.

The $110,000 prize makes the award the richest in the nation. Where the winning entry has been translated into English, the author will receive $88,000 and the translator $22,000.

The award is open to works written by an author resident in Australia or Asia, or which are primarily set in Australia or an Asian country. Works must have been either written in, or translated into English and published in the preceding year.

Entries for the award are now open and will close on May 31, 2008. Forms can be downloaded from the Department of Culture and the Arts website: http://www.dca.wa.gov.au

The award follows a government unveiling in December of a $73 million package of arts and culture “initiatives to transform dance, theatre, music and visual arts, as well as change the shape of WA’s cultural landscape”.

Perth is literally on the path to nowhere. It’s an endpoint, a terminal. This, along with its isolation, has forged a visage, complete with shimmering haze, of a mythic land across the Nullarbor full of cowboys and gold-diggers. But for some of us Bohemia is more alluring than El Dorado and that kind of spontaneity needs a little planning.



3 Responses to “Building a western bohemia”

  1. Kace said

    I think the artist impressions of the waterfront look pretty cool. Maybe needs to be a bit less manicured to make it seem more welcoming and ‘Perth like’, but it’s a good idea.

  2. occidentprone said

    The kitschy swan is a bit much too.

  3. Kace said

    Hey, an open air shopping mall like the new giant one in California would be cool down there!!!

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