Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Arts funding continued...

Pursuing the funding discussion thread (for those who are interested), I got a link to official Australian Bureau of Statistics figures on arts funding from a friend (thanks Guy!). According to Guy's reading:

"although the Fed Govt puts over $1.6 billion into arts, heritage and the environment the amount that is taken by "Heritage" is huge in comparison to what gets spent on arts. Performing arts gets a paltry $80 million of the cut in the end, but I doubt whether this is necessarily all to artists per se."

So much for Senator Brandis' statement that "artists have never been happier". Perhaps poverty suits artists, or at least popular conceptions of 'proper' artists, as opposed to members of the commentariat. This might go some of the way to explaining the enduring popularity of the vision of the Bohemian artist in works such as La Boheme, and its contemporary
imitators Rent and Baz Luhmann's Moulin Rouge. Lovable poverty-striken yet passionate artists are OK. Angry, articulate, and intelligent artists are not so OK, not so 'proper'.

I suppose things could be worse. We could be in the situation of English artists, with a
£675m cut to arts funding to directly cover a budget shortfall for the London 2012 Olympic Games...

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi,

According to Stuart Cunningham, quoted by Katherine Brisbane in her 2006 Elizabeth Jolley lecture "Imagining a Creative Nation," accessible from http://www.currencyhouse.org.au/documents/ch_d_kbrisbane_jolley2006.pdf :
"In quantum terms, the tax dollar spend on the arts is very small indeed and judicious
increases are certainly called for. The Productivity Commission… estimates that Culture
and Recreation, the sector where the arts are placed, received less than 1% of its income
from the public purse. Compare this to the enormous 14.3% allocated to some
manufacturing sectors, and 9.5% to textiles, clothing and footwear. Clearly, the idea that
the arts are more heavily subsidised by our hard-earned tax dollar than other sectors is
laughable. Thanks to the efforts of excessively influential lobbyists, the amount of
corporate welfare routinely thrown at failing industries and mendicant companies is
massively greater than that given to the arts. According to the Productivity Commission,
tax breaks and handouts that the Federal Government gave to business last year
amounted to $4.6 billion."

I just thought that was a relevant quote relating to the question of how much government money is actually spent on the arts; of course it doesn't include support from state and local governments.

Very interesting post, David; thanks for bringing to our attention the so-called arts policy debate between Brandis and Garrett.

It would be interesting to see, should Labor win the upcoming election, how that will affect arts companies such as Version 1.0. I try to hope for a better situation, but right now things are very frustrating and discouraging.

Anna

PS Tried to post this in the previous Arts funding post, but it didn't occur as far as I know, so I apologise if this is a double posting.

David Williams said...

Thanks Anna.

apart from the subsidies of the industries you mentioned, there's the sheer wastage of public monies on failed and redundent defense purchasing, something that both sides of politics have unfortunately been guilty of over the years, but lately has blown out considerably it seems with the Bushranger APCs, the Abrams tanks, the F-35, the Sea Sprites etc etc etc.

It's an open question as to how the arts generally, and small theatre companies like version 1.0 will do in the event that Labor does win the election, a prospect that does seem an even bet at best at the moment. And even if Labor does win, things won't necessary improve markedly for the sector. It seems that Labor too regards arts as relatively low priority, which I suppose is a marginal improvement over actively hostile. But I doubt that the policies of the current governement will vanish under a potential Labor Government.

I have to confess of course that version 1.0 has done well out of a decade of conservative government in Australia. We've made a name for ourselves working through the materials produced by this government's many scandals, and of course we've done so with government monies (they gave as well as taketh away). But a change of government won't necessarily bring an end to scandals of governance. Undoubtedly there'll still be parliamentary scandals to pursue.

and I was probably a bit harsh on Garrett - he spoke well, and the crowd loved him. He spoke warmly and created a sense of a bright future, but was a little shy on the detail in my view.

thanks for your comments.

David