Tuesday 16th of July 2024

the art of the protest.....

SINCE THE INVENTION OF THE "NATIONAL ART GALLERIES" IN THE WESTERN WORLD, THERE HAS ALWAYS BEEN SOME CONTROVERSY ABOUT WHICH ARTISTS SHOULD BE EXHIBITED IN THERE (SAY RODIN WAS IGNORED MOST OF HIS LIFE) AND WHO SHOULD PAY FOR IT. FREE ENTRY USUALLY MEANS SPONSORSHIP. SPONSORSHIP CAN MEAN CONTROVERSY.

WE KNOW THAT SOME ARTISTS BECAME POPULAR BECAUSE THEY WERE EXHIBITED IN SMALL PRIVATE GALLERIES THAT CASHED IN A HEFTY PERCENT COMMISSION. WE ALREADY HAVE MENTIONED UTRILLO (RED WINE! Underlined three times…) AND OTHER ARTISTS WHO SHOOK THE PURPOSE OF ART. AND TO TELL THE TRUTH, WE (I MEAN GUS, BECAUSE MANY EDUCATED PEOPLE KNOW WHAT IT IS) STILL DON'T KNOW THE PURPOSE OF THE CAPER.... BUT WE NEED THE GALLERIES TO SHOW US THE CONTROVERSIAL ARTISTS — COMPREHENSIBLE OR NOT.

 

THE ARTICLE BELOW FROM 2014....

The Australian-born and American-educated Dr Michael Brand became director of the Art Gallery of NSW in mid-2012 after a sometimes tumultuous ride running the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles from 2006  to 2010, a job he quit to be consulting director of the new Aga Khan Museum under construction in Toronto. He then moved to Sydney to take on the AGNSW directorship after the retirement of Edmund Capon, who had run the gallery for 33 years. We asked Dr Brand some of the same questions we have asked his counterparts at the National Gallery of Victoria and the Art Gallery of South Australia,  but began with asking him about the art controversy closest to home – the Transfield and Biennale of Sydney saga and its association with the AGNSW.

What do you think of the recent artists’ boycott of the Biennale of Sydney because of its Transfield sponsorship? Given the AGNSW’s long association with the Belgiorno-Nettis family (Transfield’s founders), how do you view such action,  and does the gallery have its own ethical guidelines for the financial support it will – or will not – accept? 
This is a complex and evolving issue. Artists, art museums and sponsors all work in a complex environment that requires nuanced strategies. Personally, I do not believe boycotting art is in anyone’s interest. Institutionally, the Art Gallery of New South Wales will continue to review all sponsorship opportunities on a case by case basis. We do not currently receive any direct funding from either the Transfield Foundation, Transfield Holdings or Transfield Services. We have, however, received an extraordinary level of personal support from the Belgiorno-Nettis family, most notably a $4 million gift in 2007 to establish a suite of four galleries for the display of contemporary art. Franco Belgiorno-Nettis served as a trustee of the Gallery from 1974 to 1980. Guido Belgiorno-Nettis has been a trustee of the Gallery since 2007 and was appointed to the role of president of the board of trustees by the State government in January this year. The Gallery has been a proud host venue for the Biennale of Sydney since 1976.
You have more hands on experience of the global museum scene and art market than any other director of a major museum in Australia, so where do you think major public institutions, including the AGNSW, are heading in the digital era?  
I know our team at the AGNSW is doing some really innovative work that is right up there with anything else being produced internationally, but none of us in Australia have all the answers yet.
What is the major difference between running a very wealthy privately owned gallery and running a large public gallery reliant on limited government funding?
Perhaps surprisingly, both situations seem to bring an equal amount of complexity. A wealthier private institution offers a degree of creative freedom in terms of funding but a publicly funded institution can have a more dynamic relationship with its audience, and be seen as even more relevant to its community.
Is art – particularly contemporary art – received in the same way in Australia as in other centres you have worked?
In general, yes. The big difference here is the scale of engagement with work by indigenous artists.
Is it sobering coming from the US where philanthropy is a given to Australia where it’s not?
Our cultural and educational institutions do face a more challenging fundraising environment but then again we receive way more government funding than our American colleagues. What I find heartening is the increasing number of major donations that have been made in Australia very recently. The bottom line is that fundraising is always hard work and you won’t have any success with out  a compelling vision for your institution.
There has been a worldwide trend for big arts organisations to make a greater effort to reach more people. If this trend continues what direction do you see galleries including the AGNSW going? How populist can you become?
We want to reach as broad and diverse an audience as possible, but through quality programming rather than populist gimmicks. I am convinced that the general audience will embrace new art and new ideas as long as we communicate with them in the right voice, without condescension or jargon.
Do you think there is an expectation now that art has to be entertaining?
There is a danger in that, so art museums have to be careful what expectations with raise with our audience. There is a good quote to the effect that “entertainment is not art but art can be entertaining” (I can’t remember who said it).
Is the emphasis on marketing and audience numbers at the detriment to smaller, more ‘difficult’ or more obscure shows and to scholarship within the museum (including AGNSW)?
It can be. Here at the AGNSW we have been very clear that we will not judge our success by numbers alone. We want to be relevant as well as popular. In other words, we must remain true to our mission, which includes an educational role. For this reason we will continue to stage some more challenging exhibitions along side those we know will appeal to a broader audience.
What have you been especially happy with since you arrived mid -2012 and what do you want to build on this year?
I have really appreciated the passion our audience has for our institution, and how much they care about what we do. Apart from the positive reception  of our “Sydney Modern” vision and masterplan launch last year what perhaps makes me most happy is the quality of new staff we are attracting. Together with the staff already here, I have a fantastic team to work with. I’m also very excited by the quality of art acquisitions we have made for the collection.
Do reviews of your shows in major media outlets – good or bad – affect how many people come to a show?
Diverse perspectives are always good but I think they have less effect than they used to. What is also interesting is the increasing diversity of media providing reviews.
What do you think of the standard of art criticism in this country?
You know I can’t answer that question!
What’s the most surprising comment you’ve overhead from a visitor to the AGNSW?
What always makes us especially happy are comments on some of the smaller details, such as when we move an individual work of art and change the context in which it is viewed.
What would you like most to initiate and or change at the AGNSW?
The completion of the Sydney Modern project.
Do you think Australia’s art reputation was damaged by the Royal Academy Australia show last year?
Some of the reviews will have caused some damage but good art can always survive a bad review. In a weird way, it might also encourage the London audience to see what else we have.
It’s sobering that so private galleries are closing. Do you have any thoughts about the career path a young artist might now expect?
Being a serious artist is always going to be hard work (like most other life callings) but if you believe in it you’ve got to give it a try. Like in any other areas, I’d recommend trying hard to analyse why exactly you want to be an artist. If you understand what drives you it can be easier to make big decisions.
Why is there an art boom in many overseas centres and not here?
There are a number of reasons, including money, geography and familiarity (either too much or too little).
Despite its remoteness a country like Brazil still has huge cachet in the international art scene. Why is there no international buzz for Australian art?
Buzz travels in waves and is never permanent. What always puzzles me is that there has been more international buzz for Australian film and music than for our visual arts.
Is Australian art understood outside Australia? 
Not as much as it could be. And that is something I will be working very hard to change. We mustn’t only be an importer of art and culture. We need to make sure our artists can participate as art is created and consumed globally.

 

READ MORE:

https://dailyreview.com.au/michael-brand-boycotting-art-isnt-in-anyones-interest/

 

BY THE 18TH CENTURY THE "LIBERALISATION" OF THE ARTS HAS ALWAYS BEEN A HAIRY PROPOSITION....

 

The history behind the emergence of the coiffeur holds key elements to understanding how art played a role in bringing about significant economic changes. By framing themselves not as artisans but as artistic (and often literary) figures of equal merit and distinction to painters and sculptors, coiffeurs believed it their right to practice their profession liberally, outside the remit of the barber-wigmakers' guild. The artistic pretext they used reflected a larger economic trend in the eighteenth century: the arts were no longer just a means to liberate the mind but were a conduit for liberalising trade.

 

 

UP TO THE END OF THE 19TH CENTURY IN EUROPE, ART WAS THE PROVINCE OF THE RICH — MAINLY KINGS AND THE NOBILITY, AND A FEW BOURGEOIS. AND LET'S NOT FORGET THE CATHOLIC CHURCH — THAT SOME NASTY PEOPLE CALL "THE GAY CLUB", PLEASE!.... ART WAS USED AS A PROMOTION OF GRANDEUR AND POSTERITY.

THEN CAME A FEW REBELLIOUS DUDES WHO CREATED "MOVEMENTS". SOON THESE MOVEMENTS WERE SEEN AS PROFITABLE BY AGENTS AND GALLERIES. MEANWHILE THE STREETS ARE NOW FULL OF REBELLIOUS ART — IF ONE CAN CALL ART SOME OF THE AWFUL SPRAY "GRAFFITI" DISPLAYS OF POOR PIMPLY KIDS WHO CAN'T SPELL, OR KNOW ONLY ONE WORD: F%$K. SOMETIMES TWO: F&#K YOU....

THIS PROTEST IS LIMP, BECAUSE IT IS ANNOYING AND LOWERS THE TONE OF SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR, A BIT LIKE THE PENTAGON AND ITS WAR MENTALITY.

BUT WE RE GETTING AHEAD OF THE GAME. IN back on the streets.... WE SEE THE ART OF THE PROTEST WITH A WINK.

 

 

 

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shifting interest.......

 

ANZ coy on “good bank, bad bank” ploy to plunge into new non-banking businesses

 

by 

 

On the quiet, ANZ has pulled off an historic corporate restructure, mimicking Macquarie Bank’s “good bank, bad bank” model, in a move designed to expand outside banking into riskier more profitable business while quarantining the bank. Callum Foote reports.

Why so furtive? Will Australia’s other Big Four banking majors follow suit and march into new business areas? 

Just before Christmas, as the finance world was relaxing into festive season, ANZ Banking Group filed a scheme of arrangement with the Federal Court to overhaul its corporate structure; the aim was to shift into non-banking activities while insulating the bank itself from the risk of making new and exciting corporate bets. 

Few were watching. ANZ needed Court approval and they required shareholder approval too, but there was no fanfare whatsoever from entrepreneurial Kiwi chief executive Shayne Elliott and his team, no “talking the deal up” despite what may be momentous ramifications for Australia’s banking sector.

There was one small shareholder keeping close tabs though. Carolyn Thomson, an investor in a loan dispute with the bank, says they changed the date of the Court hearing at the eleventh hour, failed to properly notify shareholders and “rushed it through” with the only public notice buried on page 15 of the hard copy of The Australian newspaper.   

“The Court approved the meeting on October 26 and made an order that the second court hearing (after voting approval) would take place for the Court to approve the scheme on or after December 22,” Thomson told MWM. “Without any formal notification to shareholders ANZ had the Court vary the Court order and bring the date of the second Court hearing forward to Monday December 19. 

If the aim was to avoid the annoyance of shareholders and press attending the meeting, ANZ’s top brass succeeded. 

“I picked this up from the Court judgment published on December 20, where Justice Michael O’Bryan stated that no shareholders turned up at Court to oppose the approval. That is because it was not widely publicised, not even mentioned at the Scheme of Arrangement meeting on December 15.”

Good bank, bad bank

ANZ declined to respond in detail to questions in time for publication of this story, yet we can only speculate as to why such a momentous deal has been kept so under wraps. The restructure to set up a Non-Operating Holding Company (NOHC) means that ANZ can still adhere to the strict banking requirements imposed by prudential regulator APRA which are there to safeguard the banking system while its new division is free to make riskier corporate bets.  

The move by Elliott and his chairman Paul O’Sullivan mimics Macquarie Bank, which was compelled by the government in 2007 – in the wake of its highly leveraged spray into new business areas globally – to separate the bank by creating an NOHC. Even then, as the Global Financial Crisis hit the following year, Macquarie Group’s massive leverage had it going cap in hand to the government for assistance.

The MacBank structure was nicknamed “good bank, bad bank” by advisers involved with the deal at the time, reflecting the dual risk profiles of the entities. So it was that Macquarie Group was able to keep on with its banking activities in one part of the group and invest in everything from French toll-roads to US gas assets, to UK water utilities in the other.

Shareholder upside but how about taxpayers?

Is the good bank bad bank structure good for taxpayers though? Before the GFC, Australia’s banks were not explicitly guaranteed by the Commonwealth. The financial crisis saw the advent of sovereign bond guarantees, depositor guarantees, protection from short-sellers and the Committed Liquidity Facility – effectively a Reserve Bank operated bail-out mechanism to protect the banks should they get into trouble.

Like no other businesses, the business risk of the banks was now underpinned by the public. Then Covid, which saw a deluge of liquidity showered on the sector via government stimulus measures.

It is likely Team ANZ is well awake to the public sensitivities of, on the one hand, enjoying the privilege of a banking licence and the protection of the Commonwealth while, on the other hand, exploiting this cherished position to turbo-charge profits by romping into non-bank business areas.

Regulators must be taking a keen interest as ANZ has already a $5b takeover bid for Suncorp Bank in the offing which has raised competition concerns.

Best of both worlds

ANZ had announced its intention to establish the NOHC structure as early as May last year, citing “greater flexibility and the potential to create additional value for shareholders over time”. It is not known yet whether they raised it earlier with Federal Treasury as a matter of courtesy. It would be hard to imagine they did not get the nod from either Jim Chalmers or perhaps former treasurer Josh Frydenberg before executing.

According to Group General Council Ken Adams, writing in the bank’s Blue Notes news service, “The new structure can help ANZ develop a holistic digital banking ecosystem including adjacent, non-banking services, platforms and partnerships that complement ANZ’s core banking business and better meet customers’ needs in the digital age”.

This is likely alluding to some sort of venture with Apple or other digital operators. Apple’s incursion into the payments system has been hugely successful  

The new structure will allow ANZ to do anything with its new business arm without the worry of being regulated like a financial institution. Adams, for instance, gives the example of ANZ purchasing a soft drink company.

ANZ has ignored questions put to them by MWM regarding whether the structure permits related party transactions between the two arms of the bank. In the case of Macquarie, there were strict Chinese Walls enforced but these have been eroded somewhat. In any case, if the listed parent company owns both the bank and the holding company its risk must be protected.  

An ANZ spokesperson directed MWM to ANZ chairman Paul O’Sullivan’s remarks at the ANZ scheme meeting on December 15 in which he said, “It’s also important to note that a non-operating holding company is not new.

“It is used by many leading financial institutions including Macquarie Group and Suncorp Group in Australia and Bank of America, JP Morgan, HSBC and Barclays internationally.”

Sovereign mollycoddling

Besides ANZ’s government guarantees via the Financial Claims Scheme, which protects depositors of up to $250,000 per account holder per authorised deposit-taking institution, and the liquidity guarantee, during the pandemic the financial sector was the beneficiary of the RBA’s Term Funding Facility (TFF) through which a total of $188b was lent to financial institutions at super low-interest rates.

Of this $188b, $83b was lent at 0.25% interest with the remainder lent at 0.1% interest in an attempt to flood the financial sector with liquidity. The banks mostly parked the funds on deposit with the RBA.

As a previous MWM investigation has revealed, the banks were able to store this money in the RBA’s Exchange Settlement Accounts which are now paying out 3% per cent, offering institutions like ANZ billions in risk-free profit. At one point, the RBA was lending to the big banks at 0.1% while paying them 0.25% interest on deposit.

 

READ MORE:

https://michaelwest.com.au/anz-coy-on-good-bank-bad-bank-ploy-to-launch-into-new-non-banking-businesses/

 

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punting.....

 

by 

 

ANZ is now free to pull a Richard Branson and licence its brand to sell ANZ-branded financial products through its non-banking and non-financially regulated wing after regulators approved its restructuring, reports Callum Foote.

The shutters are still down. ANZ, APRA, the Australian Bankers Association, Treasury. Nobody wants to talk about a momentous regulatory change which will allow Big Four bank to expand into non-bank businesses.

Australia’s top banking lobbyist Anna Bligh, chief executive of the Australian Banking Association (ABA) declined to comment.

“The corporate structure of individual banks is a matter for those banks in consultation with the Regulator,” is the response from a spokesperson. This despite its professed commitment to “accountability” for the country’s banks. The stonewalling from ABA mirrors responses from other agencies and regulators. It seems nobody is prepared to publicly debate an issue of enormity for Australia’s banking sector.

At the end of last year, ANZ finalised its “good bank bad bank” restructuring, setting up a Non-Operating Holding Company (NOHC) so it can invest in non-banking-related businesses free of the financial regulations imposed on banking institutions.

This has opened the door for the smallest of the Big Four banks to engage in new business models. Such is the secrecy over ANZ’s plan, and indeed the secrecy from regulators, it is left to speculation to work out what chief executive Shayne Elliott and his team are up to.

 

READ MORE:

https://michaelwest.com.au/four-pillars-to-four-punters-will-anz-do-a-richard-branson-licence-its-brand-like-virgin/

 

 

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