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DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE CANCELS SUBSCRIPTION - bobb's journal [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
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(image borrowed from Art Monthly)

From The Australian (online)

Ashleigh Wilson - August 05, 2008

THE Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has cancelled its subscription to a taxpayer-funded art magazine just weeks after the publication ran a controversial photograph of a naked five-year-old girl on its cover.

In a move that will cost Art Monthly Australia about 200 copies a month and about $8000 in revenue a year, a DFAT official told editor Maurice O'Riordan the department was unlikely to ever renew its subscription.

While the department said the decision was the result of a general review of funding, O'Riordan yesterday said the timing was suspicious. The 200 copies represent almost 5 per cent of the magazine's monthly sales of 4500.

"It's a sizeable cut, in terms of the prestige of having the magazine going to embassies," O'Riordan said.

Art Monthly Australia came under attack last month over its provocative cover that was supposed to restore "dignity" to the debate over photographer Bill Henson's images.

But leading arts figures distanced themselves from the magazine while Prime Minister Kevin Rudd condemned the use of children to make a "political point".

In May, NSW police decided not to lay charges against Henson after seizing from a Sydney gallery more than 20 photographs featuring a naked girl.

Anthony Taylor, the director of DFAT's Cultural Diplomacy Section, wrote to O'Riordan last month saying the department would "not be renewing our subscriptions to a number of magazines, including Art Monthly Australia".

He said the department had already received and would pay for the magazine's July issue that featured the Henson debate.

"However, we do not wish to receive any more magazines for the rest of this financial year," Mr Taylor wrote. "Nor do we foresee, at this stage, that we will be renewing our subscription at a later date."