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...