Koulla Roussos

This is a guest post by Darwin curator, artists and criminal barrister Koulla Roussos

As a criminal lawyer with over 20 years experience and as an artist and curator I have been reflecting on the steady cuts to legal aid and the arts.

One of the reasons why governments act with impunity against artists and legal aid services is because the majority of voters don’t give a shit.

Voters generally:

1. have no idea how difficult the criminal justice system can be without experienced representation- until of course they find themselves or family or kinĀ in a spot of trouble; and/or
2. have no idea how dull life can be without the arts.

But to get good representation and to be stimulated by life someone has to:

1. Undertake years of training in law or in the arts
2. Sharpen their skill and style from experience and constant practice and have
3. A life long commitment to practicing their skill and passion despite the general public’s ignorance and indifference.

Art–like social justice–is not for the faint hearted. Those amongst you who are content with being passive consumers of an artificial bliss; those who are lazy and content not to entertain an original thought from birth to the grave.

Criminal justice lawyers and artists work long hours, on their weekends and their days off.

The great majority will ignore the social good they provide until they find themselves locked up and accused of a crime they didn’t commit or an offence over inflated; or in an artless life that is dull, dark, ignorant, soulless and bleak.

Start recognising the importance of social justice. Start respecting the worth and value of the arts.

Stop your tokenistic regard for criminal justice and the arts. You would not work for less or for free so why should we?

Demand of your representatives to support these social goods.

Recognise that you and your community will only become more vulnerable without these.

Start by entertaining these thoughts for a little while.

Stop your passive conspicuous consumption of mediocrity and think about what I have just written for 5 minutes.

Begin by accepting that no one should be represented by an underpaid and under experienced lawyer, and no one in the arts should work to make your life brighter and richer for a pittance or for free.