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AFR Magazine reveals Australia’s 20 most culturally powerful people

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October 3, 2019

Five of the Top 10 on this year’s Cultural Power List are women, with a woman in the No 1 spot

Four of the Top 10 are sports people

Tennis player Ash Barty has topped The Australian Financial Review Magazine’s Cultural Power List, beating the likes of Tom Gleeson and Nicole Kidman.

The women’s singles world number one sits on top of the prestigious list, which has been published today on www.afr.com ahead of the release of the Overt and Covert Power Lists, which will appear inside the Power issue of AFR Magazine, available in The Australian Financial Review tomorrow, October 4.

“Sport has always loomed large in Australian culture,” said AFR Magazine Editor, Matthew Drummond. “But this year’s Cultural Power List contains an unusually large number of sports stars. That seems to reflect how more and more topics of the day get talked about in connection with the sports field. Two big examples from this year are men’s mental health and the battle over religious freedom in the wake of the Israel Folau sacking.”

The Power issue of AFR Magazine, now in its 19th year, will offer in-depth analysis of the trends behind the lists and profiles of Australia’s most powerful people.

Cultural power, for the purpose of the AFR Magazine’s Power issue, is measured by a person’s ability to shape Australia’s view of itself, crystallise an overarching issue in any given year, or reflect us back to ourselves.

The 2019 AFR Magazine Cultural Power List was decided by an esteemed panel of decision-makers across Australia’s creative and media industries, including:

– Russel Howcroft, Chief creative officer, PwC

– Lisa Havilah, Chief executive, Powerhouse Museum

– Matthew Drummond, Editor, AFR Magazine

– Amanda Duthie, Acting CEO, South Australian Film Corporation

– Wesley Enoch, Artistic Director, Sydney Festival

– Gabriel Trainor, Chair, National Film and Sound Archive

On the Cultural Power List, Ash Barty, who was recognised for her excellent sportswomanship as she barrelled towards the world number one ranking, was followed by former AFL star Adam Goodes.

The former Australian of the Year’s position on the list is due to two documentaries, The Final Quarter and The Australian Dream, about Goodes’ tumultuous end in the AFL, which jump-started a debate about racism in Australia.

Tom Gleeson is named third on the list in recognition of his disruption of the TV Week Logie Awards, which included a campaign to see himself awarded the Gold Logie.

Coming in fourth on the list is Israel Folau, who earlier this year was sacked by Rugby Australian over his controversial social media posts. The federal government’s bill to protect religious freedom has been drafted on the exact circumstances of the Folau affair.

Tony Ellwood is number five on the Cultural Power List, recognised for his efforts during seven years as director of the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in doubling attendance at the gallery and securing the support of the Victorian government, which last year announced it at would build Australia’s largest contemporary art gallery behind the NGV.

Cricketer Ellyse Perry is at number six for her sportswomanship and for playing cricket with a passion that inspires both men and women.

Philanthropist Judith Nielsen is seventh on the list, recognised for funding a $100 million institute for journalism based in Sydney, which has already handed out a number of grants to media outlets including the ABC, The Australian, Guardian Australia, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review.

Actor and producer Nicole Kidman is eighth on the list, recognised for being back at the top of her game thanks to starring in and producing the hit US TV series, Big Little Lies.

Artist Ben Quilty is ninth in recognition of his three-city career survey show and the controversy surrounding a Good Weekend profile in which he was photographed wearing a crown of thorns.

Actor Kate Mulvany rounded out Australia’s most culturally powerful Top 10, thanks to commanding both screen and stage this year in Belvoir Street’s Every Brilliant Thing, Foxtel/Lingo Pictures’ Lambs of God, and the upcoming US Amazon series, The Hunt.

The full Cultural Power List is currently available online at www.afr.com. The Cultural Power List, along with the Covert and Overt Power Lists, will be available inside the Power issue of AFR Magazine, available in the Financial Review this Friday, October 4.

The full Power issue also ranks and reveals the key movers and shakers across politics, business, banking, property, sport, technology and education.

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