Wherefore art thou, Alan?

3 June 2024
Wherefore art thou, Alan? - Featured image

If there’s one thing more perplexing than sports stars telling us what to think about the great moral issues of the day, it has to be virtue signalling by those in the arts.

At least those in professional sports are gainfully employed. But those in the arts who preach at us do so on our dime. Dozens of theatre, dance, and opera companies across the country rely for their survival on government grants, which is taxpayers’ money.
This leads us, inevitably, to the Sydney Theatre Company (STC) and, in a fortuitous twist, our old friend Alan Joyce.
On 25 November last year, during the curtain call of a production of Chekov’s The Seagull, three cast members (below, photo: Instagram) wore keffiyehs, apparently out of solidarity with the Palestinian residents of Gaza. None of them wore the Star of David out of solidarity with the 1,200 Israelis murdered by Hamas terrorists on 7 October, or the more than 200 Israelis taken hostage that day.


This adolescent stunt proved costly for the STC. So far, three board members have resigned in protest, thousands of patrons have signed a public letter calling for an end to such offensive idiocy, and at least one donor has turned off the tap. The stunt has cost the company an estimated $1.5 million.
At a time of such crisis, the STC could really use a proven troubleshooter.
Enter, stage Left, Alan Joyce.
Alack and alas, nay. The former Qantas CEO, who took over as Chair of the STC board in April last year, was on extended leave when the crisis broke—presumably licking the wounds he sustained while exiting the airline—and in late January announced his resignation from the STC. He stated he was unable to commit to the amount of time required to develop “a comprehensive turnaround plan”.
This is a disappointing outcome. I was keen to see the extent to which the theatre company would address its financial predicament by adopting the Qantas business model. The possibilities were intriguing; would the STC pre-sell tickets to productions it had no intention of ever staging?
So, what is Mr Joyce busy doing? He returned to Australia in early March—just as Qantas faced Federal Court proceedings around advertised flights it had already cancelled, and the Albanese Government voted to shut down a Senate inquiry into its decision to refuse Qatar Airways more flights into Australia—and, according to recent reports, is currently trying to persuade the City of Sydney to approve his plans to amalgamate two apartments on the 42nd floor of a building in The Rocks, thereby creating a $20 million haven in the sky.
Meanwhile, the STC players’ improv skills are being sorely tested.

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