An art educator’s open letter to colleagues about detention profits and the Sydney Biennale

schainI write as a Sydney-based design educator.

The 19th Biennale of Sydney is sponsored by Transfield, a company contracted to run Australian detention centres, which they do on a for-profit basis. Transfield Services Ltd recently announced plans to take on further work at the Manus Island and Nauru detention centres.

This means that profits from mandatory detention fund the Biennale.

Clearly, the most appropriate response to this situation is to boycott the Biennale. While this may feel as though we are giving something up, it is in fact one of the best opportunities we have to make a material impact on the supply chains that permit the detention industry to work.

We are in a particularly strong position here given that our decisions could have the effect of redirecting a significant number of students, income, and kudos away from detention funded cultural events and towards other kinds of experiences and discussions.

Working with colleagues to make this a group decision, and conveying this to the organisers of the Biennale (as letters and/or petitions) would multiply the impact even more.

A strong response this year is the best way to ensure that future Biennale’s are not funded through the enforced misery of others.

UPDATE: Click here for related links and latest developments.

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An art educator’s open letter to colleagues about detention profits and the Sydney Biennale

30 thoughts on “An art educator’s open letter to colleagues about detention profits and the Sydney Biennale

  1. Lisa Kelly says:

    This is a strong call and far from a silent protest, but needs more NOISE if it’s not to be smothered. The BoS Wikipedia page has been updated but the only article so far is on Arts Hub behind a pay wall.

    Write to your media contacts and peers people! In and out of the art world.

    And read and comment on Matt’s article due up on http://theconversation.com/au tomorrow morning (12/2/14).

    Thanks for all the work so far and for bringing this into view.

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