Nick Kyrgios, Wesley Enoch – blaming colour is a cop out

 

There are two significant pieces of art on the walls of our apartment, one by a white fella and one by a black fella.

The former is a Brisbane River scene by local artist David Hinchliffe and the latter, bought by my late father-in-law on a trip to the Northern Territory, by an unknown Indigenous artist.

They hang there because we like them, not because we felt the need to appear racially inclusive to those who might visit us.

To my untrained eye art is what pleases the beholder, regardless of who may have created it.

Wesley Enoch, one of the country's more prominent Indigenous artistic directors takes a different view and has attacked Queensland Theatre for its lack of Indigenous programming.

 

Wesley Enoch has attached Queensland Theatre for its lack of Indigenous programming. Picture Ryan Osland
Wesley Enoch has attached Queensland Theatre for its lack of Indigenous programming. Picture Ryan Osland

 

 

 

He didn't accuse it of racism but came uncomfortably close to doing so.

"There will be lots of excuses but when push came to shove it seemed the thing to leave out was the blackfellas," said Enoch.

"So when I see no Indigenous content this year and not even an Indigenous board member, that's problematic. Their Reconciliation Plan hasn't even been updated. People in the Aboriginal artistic community are saying "what's going on?" Some are saying "how dare you forget us!" he fumed, saying he was "shocked and disappointed".

Mr Enoch, it must be said, has done quite nicely from taxpayer funded endeavours, being the

current artistic director of the Sydney Festival and a former artistic director of Queensland Theatre and could reasonably claim that his career has not been compromised by his Indigenous background.

He has succeeded due to his talent which is as it should be.

Why, then, accuse Queensland Theatre of leaving Indigenous works out of its 2021 program because to use his words they were created by "blackfellas"?

Is it not more likely that as Queensland Theatre does not have an unlimited budget, it is obliged to spend it available funds on those productions which it believes have the greatest artistic merit.

It is ridiculous to suggest that a bunch of white people sat around a table sorting through proposed productions and in a concerted act of conscious racism, tossed all works by Indigenous artists in the bin.

The unpalatable truth is more likely to be that none of the works created by Indigenous people were any good. They simply failed to cut it. Being Indigenous does not automatically endow a person with creative genius.

The suggestion that Indigenous artists should be favoured for no other reason than an accident of birth does no one any favours.

In attacking Queensland Theatre, Mr Enoch said it was "the company that launched my career and Deborah Mailman's career and people like Leah Purcell and Wayne Blair."

Exactly! These people succeeded because of their talents. Surely Mr Enoch is not suggesting that Queensland Theatre gave them a break only because they were Indigenous, thereby cutting more deserving but non-Indigenous aspirants out of the running.

I'm sure Leah Purcell would like to think she is successful because she is a talented actor, not a talented Indigenous actor.

Queensland Theatre's artistic director Lee Lewis unfortunately "took the knee" in the face of Mr Enoch's outburst and said it was "not good enough" and it was her job to "make sure it doesn't happen again".

I would have thought it was her job to reward excellence and high achievement without fear or favour, not pander to a specific group and certainly not to bow to thinly veiled accusations of racism.

How many Asian-inspired productions will there be or Celtic or Nordic or Latino? Ethnicity doesn't count with these groupings, just the art.

The artistic path has never been an easy one. For every person who achieves even modest success, thousands of others fall by the wayside but they should all at least be guaranteed a level playing field.

The state government, predictably, said it wants to see more First Nations content in Queensland Theatre's future programs.

That's fine as long as it meets the criteria for inclusion imposed on non-Indigenous artists.

Nick Kyrgios says he has been vilified as the bad boy of tennis because of his colour. Picture: Martin Ollman
Nick Kyrgios says he has been vilified as the bad boy of tennis because of his colour. Picture: Martin Ollman

Blaming colour for missing out on what you had hoped for, be it a job or a grant, is a cop out. Sometimes you just aren't good enough.

It's like Nick Kyrgios claiming that he has been vilified as the bad boy of tennis because people didn't like "seeing someone coloured like myself go out there, be different and be successful." Wrong, Nick. Some people don't like you because you are a bad loser with a temper to match who carries on like a five year old who's lost his dummy when things don't go his way. Grow up, mate.

Equality is a wonderful concept. How much better off would we all be if it meant the same thing to everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

Originally published as Nick Kyrgios, Wesley Enoch - blaming colour is a cop out



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