It was just another day.
The neighbourhood had gathered to burn an effigy of Lynne Kosky, the transport minister. There’s nothing like Lynne to bring out an angry mob round our way. We find our seething hatred of her incompetence has somehow brought us closer together.
It had been a very successful burning, one of our most popular yet. It was almost as packed as an 86 tram! we joked amongst ourselves (although obviously it wasn’t as uncomfortable as that). As the smaller children ran giggling from the embers, Edith brought out a flask and some paper cups. We sipped our tea, feeling the heat warm our bones, while Abdikaram flipped through the program for the Melbourne International Arts Festival.
“Strike me pink”, he said. “Did you know that Lynne Kosky is also the Victorian Arts Minister?”
Well, it was news to us. Could this perhaps explain everything? Was her lacklustre performance as Transport Minister caused by the distraction of her other portfolio – after all, it would be hard to get any work done with Phillip Glass and Patti Smith banging on about Ginsberg all day long.
“Strewth!” exclaimed Abdikaram suddenly. “What if it’s the other way round? What if she’s been using transport as a testing ground, and soon she’ll be bringing in these crook ideas to the arts? That would be not grouse. That would be not grouse at all”.
It was a terrible thought, indeed. Was Lynne Kosky sitting in the depths of Parliament, cackling away at what she was about to release? Should we be expecting any of the following “improvements”?
Kosky declares Melbourne audiences have become “too preoccupied with punctuality”. Performance times now become indicative of the actual start time, and as long as arts venues maintain an 80% level of punctuality (deemed to be 20 minutes either side of the advertised time) no penalties will be incurred.
Since shows in the evening tend to be extremely popular, the government replaces them with free performances starting before 7 o’clock every morning.
For our convenience, half the seats at ACMI are removed.
The notion of “venue capacity” is redefined. Rather than number of seats, capacity will now be defined by volume. The aisles and walkways will be full of standing-room only patrons. (Many patrons now enjoy free performances, as it is physically impossible to reach the box office.)
All ushers are fired, replaced by roving gangs of ticket inspectors, who have the power to detain patrons and call the police if they feel they have bought an incorrect ticket. (The Age will commission a report showing that ushers are both more efficient and cost-effective; the head of the Arts Centre will dismiss this, declaring that theatres are now “several metres longer than the older models”.)
A new box office system is introduced. Unstaffed, it will require the customer to swipe their ticket both on arriving and leaving the venue. If they forget to “touch out”, they will be overcharged by one hundred and fifty dollars. The new system will cost a million, billion, zillion dollars, and never work. An advertising campaign has already been commissioned from a Queensland advertising agency.
A silence fell over our group as we pondered the unknowable future. Edith started to collect her things, packed away her thermos. She looked over at the festival program, at those cold, dead eyes staring back from the page.
“It reminds me of that line from the Goodies,” said Edith. “They have a very difficult job to do – and that’s why they do it so badly”.
With that she bid us farewell, and started down Gertrude Street. Somewhere the children laughed, and chased the last straggling ember as it flew into the slate-grey sky.