Do read the comments!

"never read the comments" bracelet. image credit: jessamyn west CC: by-nc-sa

“never read the comments” bracelet. image credit: jessamyn west CC: by-nc-sa 

The whole arts sector has #freethearts; peak arts bodies have ArtsPeak; visual artists and visual arts orgs have NAVA; performing arts has the Theatre Network; Majors have AMPAG… but there is NO ONE to represent the needs and concerns of the interdisciplinary, inter-dependent artist in Australia. So a few of us have decided to come together, as The Protagonists, to fill that gap within the sector-wide discussions.

As part of our short-term strategies for a stronger voice for the indies, we’re calling for a NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION on JUNE 17th. The idea is for anyone, to do anything, anywhere they like. All we ask is that you share your action with us so that others can join you, or be inspired to create their own. We don’t have time; we don’t have money; we are not organising anything specifically other than collating everyone’s actions; we know how bloody hard it is to do ANYTHING without the security of a regular income; but WE CAN DO THIS!


My action is something I’ve been thinking about doing for ages, originally as an anti-TPP approach, but I’ll see how this one goes and then quite possibly do it again. Or YOU can, coz, yknow, it’s a free country (sort of).

We all know the adage, “Never read the comments!”. It’s what we say whenever there’s a positive article about a niche issue in mainstream media, which we read with delight (‘yay they hear us!’) and then we read the comments (‘UGH’). At which point we want to gouge out our own eyes with our fingernails and slit our throats with a paperknife… because if that’s how the ‘average Australian’ thinks, well, we frankly must deserve the impending annihilation of our species.

BUT WAIT… what if these aren’t the voices of the mainstream? What if they’re the voices of a few people who genuinely don’t understand the issue or who have been brainwashed by haters? What if we actually engaged in open, friendly, dialogue with these people? Couldn’t we, maybe, possibly, actually change their minds and even learn something ourselves in the process?

So here’s the plan:

  1. Register with all mainstream media websites for the day (you should be able to get a trial for free);
  2. Search for all arts commentary within each site and read/respond to every comment that speaks negatively to the arts;
  3. DO: be positive, open, constructive, friendly, and above all, listen. DO NOT: be sarcastic, aggressive, patronising, shouty, or feed the trolls.
  4. Tag each comment with #artprotagonists and the url so readers can see what we’re doing and why.
  5. Screengrab any cool convos and share them with us via our hashtag #artprotagonists, to our Facebook Page, Twitter handle, or our blog. Or if you prefer, email us:

Notes on dealing with trolls:

  1. Don’t. Just don’t.
  2. Not all argumentative/opinionated people on the internet are trolls, many are simply defensive because they’re expecting to have to defend themselves. If you’re not sure whether they are actually a troll or not, I generally go for the ‘three strikes’ rule: If they are argumentative, try responding in a gentle manner that explains you’re simply trying to better understand where they’re coming from. If they can’t provide any semblance of rational, open exchange within three responses: stop all communications with them immediately (no matter how much they attempt to trigger you).
  3. If you have particular trouble and need advice or backup, I’ll be around via @feesable (or any other form of contact) on the day and would be happy to join your convo and provide direct support if needed.
  4. If you don’t know what a troll is, you’re a Very Lucky Human!

So, there’s my action. It’s small but I’m sure will make for a busy day!

What will YOU do? Share your action via our Call to Action page, and above all: have fun!

The Protagonists

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