The objectives of Quadrant Magazine and its online and book publishing offshoots are enshrined in the constitution of Quadrant Magazine Ltd, the non-profit company that publishes them. Our principal purpose is the defence of the values, practices, and institutions of a free and open society by fostering literary and cultural activity of the highest standard. In particular, we are committed to the preservation and advancement of the cultural freedom that is the distinctive component of traditional Western culture.
Our principal objective is as relevant today as it was in 1956 when the magazine was founded at the height of the Cold War. Quadrant originated as the journal of the Australian Association for Cultural Freedom. It was part of the international movement known as the Congress for Cultural Freedom that led to the birth of a number of similar publications across the Western intellectual world. So from its beginnings, Quadrant was dedicated primarily to preserving and enhancing cultural freedom. As long as Quadrant exists, that will define the goal that its editors pursue.
Today, the magazine is a leading Australian journal whose contributors include past Australian Prime Ministers, distinguished philosophers, writers, academics, experts and policy makers. We publish essays on literature, art, film, television, theatre, music, architecture, as well as history, philosophy, religion, politics, Australian society and Western civilisation.
Quadrant publishes materials of the highest standard that seek to encompass the cultural traditions that endure within, and enrich, our civilization. The culture we defend derives from the Classical and Christian traditions of Greece, Rome and Jerusalem, as well as those of the British sceptical Enlightenment, especially the writers of eighteenth-century Edinburgh.
Culture grows out of the long experience of contemplating the human condition through literature, art, philosophy and religion. “This has been Quadrant’s position since its beginnings,” our longest serving editor Peter Coleman AO has written, “and that is why it has always known, for example, that poetry matters.” Hence, Quadrant is not just a critic and commentator on the arts but a significant publisher of literary art itself. We publish around 300 poems a year, making it Australia’s most prolific publisher of poetry in magazine format. In terms of the number of pages published in our magazine and online, poetry is our second biggest category, headed only by news and opinion. In 2012 we published the widely acclaimed Quadrant Book of Poetry, an anthology of 487 poems from the magazine selected by our then literary editor, the late, great poet Les Murray. We also publish about 20 short stories a year.
The motives underpinning our efforts are the same as those confirmed by the Charities Definition Inquiry of 2001, which found that the charitable purpose of ‘advancing culture’, including through the arts, is one of the principal means by which a society binds together and transmits its beliefs and standards from one generation to another. Culture and the arts perform this function when they embody, reinforce and celebrate the values of society, when they confirm and exemplify the lessons simultaneously taught by the family, by the formal structures of education, and by the mass media in all their variety. Culture and the arts also provide the most effective means by which society can identify and distinguish itself from others.
In short, at a time when traditional Western and Australian cultural values are under increasing scrutiny and skepticism, we believe the cultural freedom that Quadrant defends and advances through our promotion of literature and the arts performs a critically important social function.