Culture Heist


The fight for the soul of a
great public institution

“Judith White has written about the centrality of every society’s need for a vibrant artistic culture.” – Professor The Hon Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO

“Documents what most in the arts have observed with increasing dismay – a world characterised by the rise of philistine commercialism and the decline of art.” – Sydney Morning Herald

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Order your copy of Culture Heist for the story that started the conversation.

Judith White’s meditation on her times, based on childhood memories and original documents. “Insightful and gutsy truth telling.” – Professor Stuart Rees. “A book alive with people you would like to have known.” Sandra Hall.

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Culture Heist breaks the silence about the conflict at the heart of our much-loved cultural institutions – the struggle between the public good and the forces of corporatisation.

In 2013 the Art Gallery of New South Wales announced the most ambitious museum expansion plan in Australian history. Eight years later, there is growing disquiet about the new construction, about the Gallery’s programs and the lack of ongoing funding, and about the State’s overall cultural requirements in the era of pandemics and economic crisis.

Culture Heist provides the background. An insider’s account, it has implications for art lovers and museum-goers everywhere. It invites the broadest discussion to address the issues facing the arts in Australia and explore ways to protect great public institutions.

Published by Brandl & Schlesinger May 2017

With a Foreword by the late former Judge of the NSW Supreme Court, The Hon David Levine AO, RFD, QC


Judith White was executive director of the members’ organisation, the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales, from 2000 to 2008 and again in 2014 and 2015, and is author of the Society’s history Art Lovers.

Born in Lancashire, England in 1948, she holds two degrees from Oxford University, has worked in publishing and journalism and speaks Spanish, French and Italian. Her memoir Children of Coal: A Migrant’s Story (2021) is the story of growing up in a North of England working-class community, moving to Australia and discovering the pain inflicted on lives across the globe by an empire built on coal.

She lives on the Tweed River in northern New South Wales.