Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 33 No. 14. 1970
Comment Kennedy on af
Comment Kennedy on af
Reviews of Arts Festival in the last issue of Salient and other general comments seem to agree on one thing—everyone centred their intention around the rock-pop concerts. Why?
The answer lies in the fact that most of the other activities only required the individual to sit and soak up the entertainment being offered by that particular art. Big deal. Anyone can go to a play, movie, etc. at home—wherever that might be. But there is seldom the opportunity to gather from all over the country and to mutually share—physically and mentally.
So what happens? From north and south people hitch-hike, walk and crawl into the, big city, parched and beat from the trek. Then what? OK. kids we've got a great scene going here, everything you could ever ask for; plays, cinema, art and craft, poetry, music, rock concerts. Now enjoy yourself. $4 for the lot.
People come to the campus, the environment provided for the 'art', and we are confronted with activities all over town. Everyone began just wandering round the campus waiting for something to happen. The only thing that did happen was the people began to feel like refugees.
Rock Concerts for me were both fascinating and depressing. Fascinating because when four thousand people cram into a hall you get a message, an electric impulse generated by the bodies rubbing, touching, transmitting the electricity one to another. Think of the brain power of four thousand people. Think of the potential. And what did the music provide for them? The whole set up was sheer domination. What you had was a bunch of musicians playing for only one small group in one corner of the hall. The absence of stage and lighting meant that no one else could see them, and even worse the music was bad! All the so-called musicians had practised for weeks to get their numbers perfect. People don't need perfect music, they need music which excites them physically, which offers them something positive, be it dancing, singing or even background to something else that's happening.
People want to participate. The rock concerts would have created more happiness by far if some old music teachers had been hired to go over some old school songs with everyone singing and doing descants and rounds and god knows what. It's not the bloody quality of the song that people care about, it's the participation.
The folk concerts were worse. Folk means people, doesn't it? The media of folk provides an opportunity to express emotions through the old established songs; but what about New Zealand's folk heritage? Why shouldn't there by an opportunity for NZ'ers to sing together about things that involve them specifically? No, it's the same old story, "look at me, listen to me, kids. I'm a folk singer and you're being given art so shut up and listen".
Veronica Scott and Judy Batchelor deserve credit for their attempt at getting everyone singing and clapping. The audience started laughing, singing and clapping and were suddenly happy. Previously the whole concert had been a bore with people either leaving or sleeping.
The organisers do not deserve the criticism and ridicule that they have received. Graeme Nesbitt has been used;a scapegoat for the sheer ignorance of the fact that students don't want to see 'art', they want to make and do it.
The whole idea of Arts Festival is as out-dated as Dave Smith's Holyoake impressions, as out-dated as Procesh and all the other petty bourgeoisie 'art' that exists around the place. An artist today must offer more than himself, he must attack his audience and use the stage as an opportunity to show people that we can work it out. We can do it. Let's get together.
Art should be an opportunity to restore faith in us, not God, and to regenerate some of our cherished passions that seem to get lost along the way. This message that art should give wasn't understood by the organisers. Are they therefore blame-worthy?
Tim Shadbolt and Farrell Cleary and the other equally significant people who 'pulled that scene on us' should not be crucified They, despite their 'humanity', knew where it was at. The Executive should apologise to them for our—yes, our—stupidity.