The artist John Power endowed the University of Sydney with his generous and transformational gift because he believed that art mattered—that it transformed minds, lives, societies and cultures. Art takes many forms, and visual art thrives in a culture that nurtures, understands and values it. Australia must aim to be one of those places and cultures now, in the twenty-first century, as it has been over its 60,000-year history of human culture.

To deprive grass-roots organisations, artists, researchers and curators of the very modest sums they need to keep a vital part of our shared human culture thriving and relevant, demonstrates not only lack of foresight but a fundamental lack of stewardship of the deep health of the nation. The Power Institute is deeply committed to the vital importance of visual art to culture, and as Director of the Power Institute I remain as firm as John Power himself in the belief that a culture in tune with the future and at peace with itself needs the arts as urgently as it needs medical expertise, scientific innovation or the means of self-defense.

So, everyone, please get involved, please sign the petition, join the MCA and other organisations in their public awareness events, engage your friends and neighbours, speak up! And let’s see if we can change hearts and minds and ensure the future not only of the arts and culture but of Australia in the world.

Professor Mark Ledbury
Director of the Power Institute
Chair of the Department of Art History & Film Studies, the University of Sydney