Reviews and comments
White is forthright and measured in her assessment of the effect of decades of neo-liberalism on the arts… She 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: art institutions and artists being judged by profits.
Good non-fiction informs the reader, supports its arguments with facts and, where the matter is contentious, makes the views of the writer clear, providing context for those views. White’s book meets all these criteria … [in] agile and elegant prose.
A clear exposé of the shifts in government and bureaucratic values from benefits to audiences and concern for collections, to economic and political returns.
I do encourage a read of Culture Heist for anyone working in the visual arts. These have been complex times and this book might just offer a road map to understanding our new world – a map that extends well beyond the impressive columns of the Art Gallery of NSW.
A rallying point for those who are alarmed by the way art museums are being transformed into corporate entities that neglect their historical missions and their core constituencies – with the predictable disastrous results.
A taut exposé of recent developments at the Art Gallery of NSW and other cultural institutions in Sydney … White is particularly acute in her dissection of the numbing effects of corporate mumbo-jumbo.
[Judith White] has provoked an uproar in the arts scene with a new book revealing how the Art Gallery of NSW management is in crisis and is ‘obsessed’ with its new grandiose gallery plan.
Organisations run on a certain amount of esprit de corps, a certain vitality… Judith White’s account of the internal workings of the Art Gallery of New South Wales over the last few years seeks to discover what this magical element is, and she recounts in this book the story of how easy it is to destroy.
A heartfelt, angry, passionate plea for art for art’s sake, not for the sake of corporations and money.
Culture Heist … details painstakingly with how Sydney’s flagship gallery is in [White’s] view being held hostage to its stalled $450 million Sydney Modern expansion plan.
An insider’s account of how the self-interest of big business can strangle our key cultural bodies. A must read for all those who treasure the arts.
A visit to a great art gallery leaves one with as sense of indelible wonder. Judith White dances through the great times of AGNSW and warns us of its existential threats – dwindling public funding and testosterone-inspired expansion plans.
The author, Judith White, is especially qualified to describe the commercialisation and corporatisation which is threatening the public arts sector. She was editor of Look, the Art Gallery Society’s magazine in 1998-2000 before becoming the society’s executive director for two terms – 2000-2008 and 2013-2015. She brought a contagious joy to the Society which irresistibly enthused her staff as well as the hard-working volunteers and guides. Her experience as an Oxford scholar, multi-linguist, former publisher, editor and arts administrator forms the intellectual background to this book… She has poured her heart into this work because she is passionate about cultural life and the way it stimulates imagination and enhances our understanding of the world around us.
Judith White doesn’t hold back in her intricate and bleak assessment of what’s going on behind those much loved sandstone pillars. Cultural Heist names names and points fingers at an important turning point in the NSW Art Gallery’s history.
Judith White has written with firsthand experience and passion about the centrality of every society’s need for a vibrant artistic culture.