Big Four Prepare For Bank Inquiry Grilling As Deutsche Bank Hits Serious Strife

Updated May 16, 2016 13:37:58

Legs On The Wall>> Photo: Fresh cuts to arts funding in Australia continues to pick at the eternal scab of the work-for-free debate. (supplied: legsonthewall.com.au)

Artists are sadly familiar with being asked to work for free, under the guise of "exposure". It seems the Government has taken this to an institutional level with its approach to arts funding, writes Kali Hughes.

Today I logged onto Facebook to find a friend, a UK theatre designer, had furiously posted a recruitment ad from Sainsbury's.

It seemed a North London branch of the supermarket giant was in need of a mural and shamelessly canvassed for "an ambitious artist to voluntarily refurbish our canteen". That's gratis. No payment. Quite apart from the obvious insult, it struck me that they'd used a derivative of the word "volunteer" which really ought to be reserved for some other global behemoth such as I don't know, Medicines Sans Frontiers, say, or The Samaritans.

Key points:

  • 62 previously funding arts companies have funding application rejected by Australia Council for the Arts.
  • 40 new organisations have been given grants.
  • Cuts follow the funding cuts of $60 million over four years stripped last year from the Australia Council's budget.
  • Of that $60 million, $12 million per year has been diverted into the Government's new Catalyst arts funding program.

I joined my friend in the brow-knitted scorn of the weary and denigrated artist, though it wasn't the first time I'd come across such an affront, so I could just as easily have responded with a yawn and scrolled right on down.

Last year two London-based theatre directors, Phil Willmott and Aussie import, Adam Spreadbury-Maher, engaged in a public written debate in the prominent industry rag, The Stage. Willmott defended his rights and reasons for employing actors on a "profit-share" contract - which all actors know means you might get paid but often you won't and, even if you do, it'll be at the end and the sum will add up to below Equity minimum.

This sparked a deft and detailed rebuttal from Spreadbury-Maher, who laid out the financial income and expenditure for his own fringe theatre, The King's Head in Islington, proving that it was not only inexcusable but entirely unnecessary to tout for free labour from trained professionals. He ended by saying:

I intend this to be a clarion call - opinions like Willmott's are antiquated, out of touch, and predicated on not treating actors fairly. And the myth that making profitable work is impossible is just that - a myth.

Personal experience of working for free in the early days of my career has taught me that, a) like any service or industry, you get what you pay for; and b) to engage in and enable a wageless endeavour of poor quality serves only to perpetuate more of the same: and thus the artist becomes complicit in manifesting a national perception of a shoddy industry as reality - not a match for the funding it so needs and deserves to keep it going. How can we hold up our work as worthy of support if it is not good work?

Some actors did argue in support of Willmott, citing that when they were starting out the no-budget fringe jobs allowed them to get the experience crucial to establishing a foothold in the industry. But for me that period went on a bit too long and on reflection was almost certainly a result of undervaluing myself, which meant I succumbed to yet more unpaid work. Your pay reflects your self worth and artists are repeatedly expected to override that fundamental law, not only of professional engagement but also of human dignity. Garnering only more derision from those with their mitts on the purse strings.

Of course many of us are making exemplary work around the clock: Scribbling ideas on the train journey, begging cheap studio space, scraping together our own money for materials and making innumerable lifestyle compromises to accommodate our crafts.

No, not many other professionals are driven to produce output as a part of their integral being, but does that passion and dedication excuse open, unashamed exploitation? Never. The Sainsbury's ad will hardly raise an eyebrow from the bloke in the street, let alone force his incredulous jaw to the floor in disbelief. And that's because our societal consciousness has silently agreed that art will happen, and those who make it will make it, regardless of whether you pay them or not.

A stranger once enquired about my profession. When I told her I was an actress she went all doe-eyed, tilted her head and sighed "Oh, what a lovely hobby!" I beg you to remember she had, mere seconds earlier, asked what I did for a living.

That was weird but not isolated. In the last year alone I've been asked to undertake quite sizeable projects - adapting a memoir into a feature-length screenplay and writing and presenting five hour-long episodes of a documentary. The contracts? Both profit share.

Now, in my position of obscurity, as someone who really could do with the exposure, I still said no. It's my choice, from project to project, and if I'm going to work for free it'll be on something passionately married to my desires and beliefs. Even then I might say no. I tend to think well, you can ask... but don't be annoyed if you suddenly get an engaged tone. And I think the really galling thing about the Sainsbury's "ask" was that it came from a corporation valued at hundreds of millions of dollars.

In Europe, I know I will eat; back in Australia, I can't be certain of a sausage.

Meanwhile at home in Australia I guess you could say this is happening at an institutional level. The cuts to arts funding from last year's budget are starting to flow through and pick at the eternal scab of the work-for-free debate. That 128 arts organisations have just been named to share a paltry $28 million a year, to my mind, is tantamount to the Coalition Government standing bang in the middle, right on top of Uluru with a megaphone, shouting "Oh just work for free! You know you want to!"

As an Australian-born artist it would be understating the deep paranoia I hold for the future state of my pantry to say I am hesitant to return home. For while arts in the UK have far from dodged the fatal swing of the wrecking ball, I would argue there exists a slightly deeper seated respect for them, in the national psyche and in the obligations of the state.

It helps having countries like Germany on your doorstep where culture is most certainly valued and, from what I've seen, more than adequately funded. After the war, despite being economically knee-capped by reparations, Germany also had her military disabled. So, knowing what we all know about defence budgets universally, I think it's safe to assume an obscene amount of money came floating to the surface. And, being a culture that places serious value on theatre, film, dance, opera, photography and fine arts, the Deutsche kunst has thrived ever since.

There, in Europe, I know I will eat; back in Australia, I can't be certain of a sausage. But forgetting about my level of obscurity, just behold the steady drift of Australian screen talent across the Pacific to the shores of Los Angeles. This must owe at least in part to the woeful corpse of our film industry: the artist formerly known as The Australian Film Commission.

At The Conversation Joanna Mendelssohn of UNSW took stock of which visual arts institutions have been bestowed further oxygen and which have been left gasping by last week's round of four-year funding grants from the Australia Council.

Mendelssohn surmised that, in leaving the survival of the arts to the discretion of private philanthropy, the Australian government is one that "likes its arts to be delightfully subservient, existing only to add a little soup├žon of beauty to an otherwise dull and corporate life."

She posits that, frighteningly, this may be serving in a direct effort to dumb down the Australian consciousness.

Artists and advocates have, since I can remember, been pushed into the corner of empirically quantifying their economic worth.

As a sceptic of scepticism (or just a naive innocent) I don't know how much of government policy in any developed, democratic nation can be attributed to a deliberate conspiracy to "keep us dumb", but I'm utterly convinced it's happening anyway.

Via smaller, more invisible pores our national intellect is on a slow leak, a collective and insidious drain and, while it may not be government policy per se, the current administration certainly isn't calling a plumber. The point is to acknowledge the shrivelling of the national brain and stop it from happening. And one glaringly obvious solution - one sure-fire way of challenging, educating and stimulating the grey matter of Australia - is simply to foster the arts and access to them.

Artists and advocates have, since I can remember, been pushed into the corner of empirically quantifying their economic worth and providing immediate, fiscally-based evidence for their right to survive, pitifully reduced to pointing at the tourist dollar and squeaking. "Look, we are relevant!" But lately we've busted out of that corner and stood the ground of integrity, fiercely asserting the value of art for its own sake.

One eloquent refusal to comply came from the writer and comedian Stewart Lee, who said to hold up the financial achievements of the arts is "to get drawn into fighting the war on their terms" and thereby admitting that art has no intrinsic value in or of itself, except to bring trade to shops in the West End "because people on their way to the theatre were buying crisps".

It isn't only artists who feel art has merit, Albert Einstein is almost as famous nowadays for his quotable journals and letters celebrating the arts and humanities as essential to the intellect - across disciplines - as he is for formulating the theory of relativity.

It is a commonly held belief among activists in the UK that the current Tory government is engaged in a very deliberate policy to underfund and undermine the National Health Service, putting real lives in danger to force it into disrepair, for the express purpose that they may point to these potholes in arguing the case for privatisation.

Again, I can't testify to just how malicious the intentions of these people are but the fact remains, it's happening. And if the corrosion of the NHS means a sickening of our bodies then the corrosion of the arts is serving on a par as a stunting of our minds. I dare say many health professionals would even argue that the two are not separate issues.

Kali Hughes is an actress, writer and filmmaker who lives in Australia, the UK and India. Visit her blog, Je Suis Kali.

Topics: government-and-politics, business-economics-and-finance, arts-and-entertainment, film-movies

First posted May 16, 2016 13:31:35

Comments (197)

Comments for this story are closed.

  • Dove:

    16 May 2016 2:02:10pm

    Art for art's sake. Money, for God's sake. An artist produces art. With me so far? They can then either sell it for an income or continue to produce it for a hobby. Where do I come in? Why am I asked to pay taxes in order that some people can enjoy a lifestyle?

    Arts funding rests on someone in a cravat and beret making the learn'd decision that this is art and worthy of my taxes and that is not. This is subjective, arbitrary rubbish.

    Art is voted on by the feet that walk through galleries, by the money spent on objet d'art and by the exorbitant amount I paid for my Ring Cycle tickets. ACDC has more "artistic" value, Home and Away has more artistic value and quirky topiary has more artistic value that backstreet, limited exposure, struggling, garret living types who's principal skill is making a successful grant application. And yes, this is the real Dove. Do not adjust your sets

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    • Crisplion:

      16 May 2016 2:25:30pm

      "Why am I asked to pay taxes in order that some people can enjoy a lifestyle?"

      A fair question, and I would be more than happy to see all public funding for both art and sport terminated on that basis, bearing in mind that the amount spent on the former is currently paltry in comparison with the amount spent on the latter.

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      • Desert Woman:

        16 May 2016 3:55:50pm

        Crisp, both sport and the arts are necessary for a healthy well functioning society and neither have anything much to do with money.

        A society that does not appreciate the arts and its artists is a pretty sick old society. Artists throughout history have played the role of the cockatoo who warns us of what is just around the corner or going on below the surface. They are the seers of things normally unseen.

        As for being prepared to pay for things, perhaps all you people who feel we should not have to pay people whose work we don't appreciate, should prepare yourselves for the fact that we are walking into a future where fewer and fewer people will have paid employment, and will have to be paid to live.

        We will have more people who discover their artistic talents and we will all be paying for them, unless you want the gutters blocked up with dead bodies.

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        • johnoz:

          16 May 2016 7:41:43pm

          Dear Desert

          I am an professional artist.

          Virtually all of the funding is in reality paid to administration.

          Has been the case for decades.

          The reason why I have been able to make my art on a full time basis is exactly because, I do not have anything to do with the funded sector.

          If I did have a ' secure position ' in the funded sector I would be an ' arts worker' (read administrator) with a sunday hobby.

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        • Desert Woman:

          17 May 2016 7:33:58am

          Good to hear you are so successful John.

          I doubt that virtually all of the funding going to administration is the whole answer however. If that was the case, there would be far fewer performing groups and individuals than there are. A fair proportion must be going to the performers.

          The other important function of funding is to give young or new talent a go to show how good they are. It is a bit hard to succeed if nobody knows you exist.

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        • Peter:

          17 May 2016 9:59:22am

          I guess you mean that the taxpayer to fund experiments people wish to make. Hey they may be delusional about their so called calling but have the taxpayer pay them to find this out. What garbage. If they are any good the public will pay to see them. Yes they may need to start out joining a community group to get practice and exposure but so what

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      • dr dig:

        16 May 2016 4:03:37pm

        Crispilon, there is a difference between funding for sport and funding for the arts. Many more people benefit from sport than the arts. I do think the balance between elite sport and participation sport is out of whack. That much I give you.

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        • Peterputer:

          16 May 2016 7:18:14pm

          Dr. Dig, I don't think there is evidence that more people benefit from sports than the arts. You may be right, but if so, is it because more money is spent on sports than the arts. If we had an equivalent of the olympics for art, and threw the same levels of money at it, would more people benefit from that?

          Re crisplion's question "why am I asked to pay taxes..." I would like to direct my taxes to the arts, or sports, rather than to $50 billion for the next lot of subs, or the ever late jets that will never be used for anything other than training. Or for super for pollies who work a few years and can then take pension for life as well as a perky new residenc in the USA when most of us put stuff in (with or without a tax subsidy), and take out what the investment mangers make, after we turn 65/66/67.

          DW, thank you for your comments.

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        • Crisplion:

          16 May 2016 10:03:10pm

          Peterputer,

          The words you quote were Dove's not mine, and I entirely agree with what you say - I also would much prefer to fund the arts - or even sports - than military toys or perks for politicians.

          The point that I was trying to make - albeit with manifestly unsuccessful irony - is that criticising paltry arts funding while ignoring or supporting lavish sports funding shows what a very monomaniacal culture we are. The cultural hegemony of sport in this country is beyond ridiculous.

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        • dr dig:

          17 May 2016 11:44:38am

          Peterputer, the reason is very simple. Way more people are interested and participate in sport than the arts. By orders of magnitude. For one example, look up the number of people who have paid to attend a sport event in the last twelve months and compare that to other cultural activities (the arts). Then look at the number of people that are members of sport clubs and compare that to the number of people who are members of arts-related community groups. It is a matter of interest and desire at its core.

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        • Bella:

          17 May 2016 2:56:24pm

          Dr Dig's

          % of Australian population (arts is for 15+ age group)

          Sport =16% attendance for AFL, 10% facing, 9% rugby league, 8% motor sports)

          Arts = 67% for cinema, 25.9% for art galleries, 22.5% for libraries, 30% for popular music concerts, 16 - 17% each for musical theatre & opera, theatre and other performing arts

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        • dr dig:

          17 May 2016 3:38:23pm

          That summary is misleading I think Bella. You only report percentages for individual sports and compare these with arts categories.

          Overall, about 50% of the population has attended a professional event in a twelve month period. Compare this to the most popular form of the arts which is about 25%.

          Cinema is a bit rich to count as the arts. I actually doubt many in the arts would accept that the millions of people going to see Star Wars or Captain America have participated in the arts.

          You can also compare hours participating in sport as an active participant or volunteer across the two groups and the distinction will be much starker.

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    • mike j:

      16 May 2016 2:27:44pm

      But when you distribute social welfare under the pretext of arts grant, you don't have to peg it to merit or performance.

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    • John Coochey:

      16 May 2016 2:37:07pm

      Dove, well said. If you do not like your salary then change professions! I have a friend who does metal sculpture and she woke up one morning to realise she was middle aged with no house nor super. Well she made her choices.

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      • the yank:

        16 May 2016 4:50:51pm

        Yes she should never have been born in Australia.

        I recommend she leave this cultural waste land.

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      • NomDePlume:

        16 May 2016 4:51:10pm

        She suffered for her art and now it's our turn.

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        • gnome:

          16 May 2016 6:57:00pm

          Oh- we've been suffering for their art long enough thanx.

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    • whogoesthere:

      16 May 2016 2:40:06pm

      Yep, I'm with you. And don't get me started on the money councils spend on road side 'art'. Just put in more plants for goodness sake. Though I must admit, my partner's favourite, which he has named, 'bird poo on sticks', always gives me a giggle.

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    • Zing:

      16 May 2016 3:12:39pm

      That's a bit harsh, Dove.

      Artists need to cope with a variety of social, educational and economic disadvantages. Some artists have issues with substance abuse, while others live in remote communities where the opportunities for artists are limited. It is also clear that artiness forms a critical part of an artist's culture and self identity.

      So we shouldn't just assume that living like an artist is a "lifestyle choice".

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      • NomDePlume:

        16 May 2016 4:54:01pm

        Perhaps she isn't very good. If you need the power of the state to force people to pay for your art, that is a reasonable conclusion to draw.

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    • Peter:

      16 May 2016 3:13:53pm

      One tries to remain cheerful about Australia, but it is not always easy.

      Why is it that we are no longer capable of framing any argument whatsoever in this country in anything but economic terms. Are we really so keen to live in a society where the only criteria for the validity of productive input is the monetary value that can be derived from it.

      Humans have benefited from, and been enriched by, the arts for thousands of years. If we now care so little for aesthetics, preferring instead the cold rationalisations of economic reckoning, then perhaps it is true that we have reached the point, in contemporary Australia, where we know "the price of everything and the value of nothing".

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      • reaver:

        16 May 2016 3:32:13pm

        The issue is one of economic terms, Peter. What else could it be when it revolves around a demand for other people's money? When money is demanded, in this case from several million taxpaying members of the public, then the question of what those people are getting for their money has to be answered. Exactly what are they getting for their money? Break it down to its most basic form- what is an average taxpayer, Ms or Mr PAYG, getting for their tax dollars?

        Humans have indeed benefited from, and been enriched by, the arts for thousands of years. For the vast bulk of that time there was no taxpayer funding for it. Why then should it have taxpayer funding now?

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        • Allen Sundry:

          16 May 2016 3:43:58pm

          lets put this in perspective

          128 arts organisations costing taxpayers $28 million

          one F-35 fighter jet costs about $98 million

          each one of the jobs to be created by the new submarines that taxpayers are funding will cost $17 million

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        • reaver:

          16 May 2016 3:58:13pm

          How is that perspective, Allen? How does pointing out other government waste justify this government waste? The only thing justified by pointing out government waste is a call for reduced government waste. It does not justify more government waste. "Waste A is less than waste B" is not a justification for waste A. Buying a $98 million dollar flying lemon in no way justifies giving several hundred thousand dollars to an organisation in order to create art than nobody else is willing to fully pay for.

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        • Allen Sundry:

          16 May 2016 4:47:30pm

          are you the final arbiter of what is and is not waste?

          A lot of taxpayers think their taxes should fund the arts, so their wishes should be respected. Democracy, no?

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        • reaver:

          16 May 2016 5:51:21pm

          Democracy is the rule of the majority, not of "a lot", Allen. If the majority demand the return of previous funding then that is what will happen, but I have seen no widespread protestations against the funding cut. All of the protestations I have seen have come from vested interests within the arts. The arts community does not represent a majority so in order to get what they want they have to convince a majority of the rest of us, "us" being the taxpaying pubic, that what they want should be taken out of our pockets and given to them. So far they have made an extremely poor case.

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        • Cassandra:

          16 May 2016 11:18:08pm

          Hi Reaver,

          "I have seen no widespread protestations against the funding cut...."

          Early days yet, sir/madam.

          I like these observations by some 'artist-types':

          "The arts are not a way to make a living (but) they are a very human way of making life more bearable." (K. Vonnegut, 'A Man Without a Country')

          "The arts are a highway to the soul of the people." (A. Miller, playwright)

          Your incredible assertion that only 'vested interests' in arts areas have raised concerns at these cuts serves more to undermine your case than assist it. Count me in as anti-cuts, for starters.....

          (But I'm very glad that I'm not - to my knowledge - part of any 'taxpaying pubic'....!)

          Sincerely,

          Cass

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        • reaver:

          17 May 2016 9:19:04am

          I never stated that all the protestations have come from vested interests in the arts community, Cass, I stated that the only protestations I am aware of, protestations in forms such as articles (like the one above) and petitions, have come from vested interests in the arts community. If you have evidence of them in the wider community then I look forward to seeing your evidence.

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        • gnome:

          16 May 2016 7:03:09pm

          That's great Allen, if they want their money to go to the yartz, they have only to send it that way. They should think of it as an extra voluntary tax - I'm sure they are the ones who also think taxes should be higher.

          But keep your hands out of my pockets please folx.

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        • Dugong:

          16 May 2016 9:58:12pm

          Allen, why go through the middle man? Why use the government as the vehicle for what you are perfectly capable of doing yourself?

          By all means spend your own money anyway you see fit to support the arts. I will spend mine the way I want. And that, my friend is a true democracy.

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        • NomDePlume:

          16 May 2016 4:56:41pm

          Allen we should send these artists with their art to defend our borders. One look at their work would certainly stop the boats.

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      • Zing:

        16 May 2016 3:33:59pm

        "Why is it that we are no longer capable of framing any argument whatsoever in this country in anything but economic terms."

        Because nice things cost money. No money, no nice things.

        So boil down any argument and sooner or later, you come to the ugly business of money. Because there's always a bill and someone always has to pay for it.

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        • Desert Woman:

          16 May 2016 4:52:07pm

          Zing, how much does a smile cost?

          Is the govt contemplating a smile tax? A tax on laughing perhaps because we are doing far too much of it?

          There are plenty of nice things that don't cost money. Part of the problem is that when people take money too seriously, they tend to do less of the nice things that actually keep the world going round and keep us all sane.

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        • dr dig:

          16 May 2016 6:10:53pm

          You are correct DW, but you have a lot more to smile about when you aren't worried about where your next meal is coming from. Hence the two are intimately related. Not in a linear fashion, I agree. But surely you agree a strong economy is important for quality of life. At least in today's world.

          I too look forward to a world where we don't have to work and our only concerns are satisfying our whims and desires with technology doing all the hard work. Unfortunately I don't think that will happen for many generations to come.

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        • Desert Woman:

          16 May 2016 8:18:06pm

          You can believe that dr dig but all the evidence says that money has very little correlation with smiling or what is known as 'happiness'.

          Certainly for wealthy societies such as our own, increasing wealth has an inverse correlation with happiness. And for poor communities, it seems to make little difference. in some communities people even look after each other - just imagine that! There is more to today's world than rich Australia.

          Perhaps some people have become so convinced of the need for money that they have forgotten what the essence of humanity is all about?

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        • somebody else:

          17 May 2016 8:44:23am

          "money has very little correlation with smiling or what is known as 'happiness'. "

          Maybe not but stress does, and money reduces stress by providing options.

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        • Desert Woman:

          17 May 2016 9:18:05am

          Somebody, once again you are arguing solely on the basis of contemporary Australia where apparently money is the basis of life.

          Yes, many of us rely on money to provide options. That is because nobody else is going to provide them and as you can't provide these options for yourself, we have to buy them.

          Our communities barely exist now, certainly they are far weaker than they were when I was a kid. To a large extent we, or our families, are on our own.

          In societies where there are still strong communities, firstly, there is far less stress, and if stress does arise, there are other people to help provide options.

          If a community cannot provide all the options for itself, it can collectively raise the money to buy them. We are getting back to that only now, with methods such as crowd funding - a very old idea dressed up in new language.

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        • Orion:

          17 May 2016 9:45:38am

          " increasing wealth has an inverse correlation with happiness."

          Not true Desert Woman, there is research on this which shows that happiness does indeed increase with wealth, but only up to about USD 50,000 (2010 dollars) after which it does not increase further. As Oscar Wilde said money can't buy happiness but I'd rather be miserable in comfort.

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        • Desert Woman:

          17 May 2016 10:22:08am

          Orion, the relationship is indeed quite complex.

          However, US$ 50,00 is not exactly millionaire class. This raises all sort of questions about what people are really after when they forever strive to get more and more, money and stuff that is.

          It remain true that many people in many cultures other than our own are not miserable living in what we regard as less than 'comfortable' circumstances. In fact our immediate ancestors of a generation or two back seemed quite cheery and they had lived through the Great Depression as well as a world war which took many of their relatives.

          There are other variables involved in 'happiness'.

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        • dr dig:

          17 May 2016 11:50:44am

          If you are relying on correlations DW then you are looking for the wrong evidence. I clearly said the relationship is not linear so we need more complex analysis than correlations.

          Money is simply an instrument to guide exchanges within the economy and should not be demonised so much in my opinion.

          The ability to provide for basic physiological needs is a necessary condition that must be met before one can service the basic psychological needs which contribute to 'happiness'.

          The meeting of physiological needs requires access to resources (we currently use money as a representation of the resources we have). Once you move beyond the level of resources needed to provide for physiological needs and service psychological needs the relationship becomes problematic.

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        • gnome:

          16 May 2016 7:05:37pm

          Now you're on track at last DW. Those "artists" shouldn't take money so seriously should they.

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      • Machiavelli's Cat:

        16 May 2016 3:36:53pm

        Since no one commenting is seeking to ban art but there are questions about the government subsidising artists, it is an economic argument.

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      • Martin:

        16 May 2016 3:47:40pm

        Peter - if the ATO stop making threats to extort the money in the first place then the arguments would disappear. Willing donors/willing artists is the solution to arts funding. No one else would care.

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      • Dove:

        16 May 2016 4:31:17pm

        Peter, I don't believe it to be a matter of economics. When taxes are spent on hospitals, schools, aged care, roads, whatever, we know what we're getting. When government bodies shell out tax payers money for art, we know what we're getting. When we hand over money via arts funding grants we have no idea what kind of finger panting, interpretive dancing, installation monstrosity we'll be lumped with.

        Money doesn't put a value on art but it does represent an opportunity cost for the other things we could've bought. No is talking about banning art. We're talking about artists doing what they've always done- expressing themselves through their medium. If people like it, if people applaud with hands, vote with their feet and patronise it with their wallets then everyone's a winner. If the art is crap, too edgy or just ahead of it's time, the artist either goes on expressing themselves though their medium or gets a new bag.

        I can't control what people like. I can't account for G&S Societies, Avengers movies or cake decorating. And nor can the government. They are the very worst people to judge what's art and what's not. And funding lets them decide what art is. Let people decide. And they do this through the magic of the market. May God strike me dead for saying that!

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    • relative:

      16 May 2016 3:29:09pm

      Our local council hired a sculptor to make some boring roundabouts a little more interesting. Nice job and they have improved my quality of life no end. The lucky bloke probably went out for chinese for the first time in years.

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    • bella:

      16 May 2016 3:45:34pm

      why am I asked then to work for taxes to support, families, religion, mining, handouts to the banks, tax cuts for higher income earners etc etc etc?

      I take it then that you and everyone else here who seems to think that there is no reason whatever for arts funding are happy to do without art, theatre, books, films, television, radio music, festivals, musical theatre and so on. That none of you need anything to enrich or invigorate your lives? That none of you have a basic human impulse or need for culture of one sort of another?

      And there is an assumption being made here that it is a clear choice between arts funding and funding for education, health etc. It isnt, the amount 'saved' through these cuts is, in the larger budget not substantial and you can bet your bottom dollar that the LNP coalition if relelected will not be putting this 'saving' towards health, education etc.

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      • Dove:

        16 May 2016 4:46:22pm

        "why am I asked then to work for taxes to support, families, religion, mining, handouts to the banks, tax cuts for higher income earners etc etc etc?"- I don't like doing that either

        "happy to do without art, theatre, books, films, television, radio music, festivals, musical theatre and so on" No. I pay for them

        The only judge of talent or artistic quality is democracy. Every other measure is just beard stroking. And in art, we vote with our money. If an artists sells their piece at Sotherby's for millions, wins an Oscar or tops the charts, they get to keep it all. I don't stick my hand out. It's a fair trade

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      • NomDePlume:

        16 May 2016 5:00:02pm

        I am happy to pay more for the art I want to see if my taxes are reduced by the amount being spent on the art no one wants to see.

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      • Kenny:

        16 May 2016 5:05:31pm

        "I take it then that you and everyone else here who seems to think that there is no reason whatever for arts funding are happy to do without art, theatre, books, films, television, radio music, festivals, musical theatre and so on."

        Because there is no such thing as privately funded art, theatre, books, films, television, radio music, festivals and musical theatre?

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    • the yank:

      16 May 2016 4:42:03pm

      Why indeed. Why give government support for anything? Lets expand your thought bubble and cut out government funding for everything.

      Why are my tax dollars going to support farmers. If they can't hack it just get out of the business. Same would go for every other industry around.

      As an 'artist' for over 45 years I no longer give a hoot about people like you. Every business is voted on by people's feet. Some people how ever value "creative thinking" others are just ignorant and don't care.

      Of all the country's I've lived in Australia is THE worse for supporting the arts. I am not just talking about government support but also from the public. Walking into an Australian home is like walking into a cultural desert.

      Sports! Hey Australia will spend big on sports but try and get Australian to buy art, not a chance. I've put it down to the nation's isolation and criminal history.

      Hey cut the funding to the arts and spend your time watching government sponsored footy, you deserve it.

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      • Charlie:

        16 May 2016 6:07:34pm

        It's also possible - and this may be hard for you to accept - that others just don't place the same value on 'art' as you do. Apart from the fact that there's a bigger sucker out there, explain to me why that faecal spray of paint, Pollock's 'Blue Poles', is worth so much more than the price it was purchased for?

        That you believe your 'creativity' should be supported by government is perhaps suggestive of your mediocrity. It's entirely possible that people get more enjoyment out of an hour or so of intense human physicality than your 'genius'. Of course, until you provide a real name and examples of your work, we can't be sure can we?

        Herein lies the flip side of anonymity, you can say whatever you want. But your extraordinary claims are going to require extraordinary evidence, Rembrandt.

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        • the yank:

          17 May 2016 7:08:07am

          Where did I say that creativity should be supported by the government in Australia?

          I acknowledge that Australians are just not interested. Unless it is a ball that can be kicked, a body that can be smashed, or a liquid that can help get them legless Australians just aren't interested.

          That you can't understand the Blue Poles says as lot about you not the value of the work and the pointlessness of wasting tax payers money.

          As I said cut funding to the arts and spend your time and money watching footy. I don't want you to hurt your grey cells.

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      • gnome:

        16 May 2016 7:14:32pm

        Oh Yank- for a moment there I thought you'd finally seen some sense.

        You do realise, don't you, that for your argument to mean anything you need to get to first base first. Why should we value subsidised artz?

        I know reason isn't your strong point, but do try. "Just because...", "everyone knows..." and "it stands to reason" really only work when you're telling us how bad the Liberals are, or why global warming needs to be defeated.

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        • the yank:

          17 May 2016 7:01:17am

          Hey I agree. As I said it is absolutely pointless for the government to spend money trying to get Australians to appreciate the roll art plays in society.

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    • Helvi :

      16 May 2016 4:44:08pm

      Any country that values and supports its artists: writers, composers,painters musicians, opera/ ballet/ creative dance performers, actors etc is my kind of country, a civilized country.

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      • the yank:

        17 May 2016 7:09:50am

        Agreed. That Australia doesn't want to spend money on the arts tell you where the culture is at.

        Maybe if artist just got up on stage and bashed each other Australians would see a value in it.

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    • PeterS:

      16 May 2016 6:20:56pm

      I like jelly wrestling and monster truck rallies. I consider them, firstly, body art, and secondly, mechanical art.

      Can we get some subsidies for them? I mean, YOU might personally not like them or consider them art, but that's just your opinion.

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    • jill:

      16 May 2016 10:24:02pm

      A lot of the small innovative and experimental organisations that "do art" (theatre, galleries, etc) that hardly anyone wants to see and no-one wants to pay for are incubators for raw talent, some of whom then go on to produce stuff people want to see and are willing to pay for. It's like subsidised apprenticeships for artists. For the relatively paltry amount of money we give to the arts, it's worth it to produce the occasional star.

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    • phil:

      17 May 2016 7:11:29am

      What about if we apply that to everything including womens sport?

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  • Alfie:

    16 May 2016 2:07:08pm

    If artists were any good, they shouldn't need funding.

    Why should taxpayers continue to support mediocre performers when the general public won't?

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    • Trevor M:

      16 May 2016 2:17:29pm

      If local sports clubs were any good, they wouldn't need funding.

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      • whogoesthere:

        16 May 2016 2:34:35pm

        Getting people active is good for their health, which should save money in the long run.

        I'm with the bogans on this one. I don't see any reason a Government should fund 'arts' unless it will bring a return. If people like opera or ballet or modern art or whatever, fine, but I see no reason why taxes should fund entertainment. I'd say the same about professional sport, like the Grand Prix. If it makes money for the State, fine, if not, ditch it.

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        • Dazonthecoast:

          16 May 2016 2:59:19pm

          WGT,

          Then I will play devil's advocate and not be with the bogans on this one.

          I don't see any reason why I should fund people running into each other, breaking bones, pulling muscles and being concussed. For every "fit" bogan running around there are 100 watching, drinking beer, eating pies and whipping behind the toilets for a quick smoke.

          Certainly not benefiting society in the long run. How does any of the 3 codes of football actually provide a net benefit?

          Let's not start on motor racing.

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        • Angela Faye:

          16 May 2016 3:57:30pm

          Or the Australian Institute of Sport, Cricket Academy or the many other taxpayer funded sports organisations.

          Why does our national pride and ego have to be so bound up in sporting prowess?

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        • Rhonda:

          16 May 2016 8:07:12pm

          Why do you assume that anyone who is against arts funding must necessarily be pro sports funding?

          I'm pro-neither. The arts and sport are just two human activities. If you want to participate in them, good on you. But why should your participation in either of them be funded by the general public? If I say I want to be a chef, then I train as a chef and get a job. If I can't find a job, then bad luck - I can't be a chef. I will need to find a job doing something else. Ditto if I want to be a greenkeeper or a gardener or a doctor or a nurse or a journalist or a truck driver or whatever.

          But if I say I want to be a painter or a dancer or a performance artist, and can't find employment in my trade, then no - I'm too special to suck it up and do something different like anyone else. it is now up to the general public to fund my career, and if they don't want to do it, then I will throw a tantrum and call them philistines and bogans and idiots because they should be glad to fork out their hard-earned to fund the lifestyle choices of a person of my calibre.

          Gimme a break.

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        • Allen Sundry:

          16 May 2016 3:02:03pm

          why should everything be framed in terms of the profit that can be made on it?

          I would say that profit is not a particularly good measure of value. Why do we fund astronomy, or space exploration, or many other things that do not turn a profit?Why do we fund pensions for people in their old age. For a lot of people the arts (or sciences, or sports) are things that are worth something in themselves, and are at least part of the reason why we have an economy in the first place.

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        • Michael:

          16 May 2016 3:34:23pm

          Astronomy: advancements in radio and optical transmission and reception.

          Space exploration: Teflon, velcro and many other things.

          These things have been providing something for decades if not centuries. The return on art is subjective.

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        • Dazonthecoast:

          17 May 2016 6:47:38am

          AS,

          Well put. This seems to be a malaise in the thinking of all those who subscribe to "neoliberal think". Everything must be thought of in terms of $ value or else it is worthless.

          This is possibly why some are so keen to build massive coal mines. The short term gain by a few is considered, in monetary terms, to outweigh the value of virgin bushland or adjacent primary industries. Better to earn $10B over 5 years than $200B over the next 50.

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        • bella:

          16 May 2016 4:04:06pm

          According to the ABS, the contribution of the arts and cultural sector to the GDP is $86 billion. It is one of the largest industries in the country.

          If the government announced cuts to say, support funding for manufacturing or defence suppliers or another industry that would mean the closing down of businesses that employ hundreds of people (and yes, support their families etc) and mean that many have to change careers, move into other employment (yes, it's your jobs they're after!) or god forbid, go on employment benefits, there would be an outcry.

          "Oh no" you would all cry " the government is destroying business, the government is wrecking economic activity" you would all say, that is precisely what these cuts are doing.

          It is not removing support for peoples individual hobbies, this is destroying business,organisations, incomes, careers, livelihoods, it is destroying economic activity that employs people, creates business, drives economic activity throughout Australia and internationally.

          Even if you think the "arts' are a waste of time, even if you have never set foot in a theatre in your life, and even if you think that the only worthwhile way to measure the value of something is it's economic worth, then be very clear that what is being destroyed here is economic activity.

          And it is being done for ideological reasons, not sound policy, not good economic planning or management, it is being done for ideology.

          So, if you think destroying one of the largest industries in this country is a great idea, go ahead and vote for the LNP. It is an industry and part of the economy that they are destroying.

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        • pmac:

          16 May 2016 5:06:31pm

          I suspect we could pay a number of artists to make art - throw them in a hole and pay navies to bury them - at a later date pay navies to dig them up as ancient artifacts. We then set up a large number of PhD's to study this treasure-trove of art. The ABC could add a new channel to broadcast this incredible find.

          This is a make work scheme that educates and keeps on giving- for a few $$ there is a net benefit of $2.675 bn per year in net present Dollars for around 18.2 years on arms length economic modelling by the Street Artists Collective.

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      • reaver:

        16 May 2016 3:20:06pm

        Quite so, Trevor, but I wonder what your point is. Pointing out one form of unnecessary government spending does not justify other forms of unnecessary government spending and vice versa.

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  • Peter:

    16 May 2016 2:07:11pm

    Cuts to arts funding are not 'tantamount to the Coalition Government standing bang in the middle, right on top of Uluru with a megaphone, shouting "Oh just work for free! You know you want to!"'

    It is simply that ordinary tax payers are getting fed up with paying for other people's hobbies. Artists do not have to work for nothing, nor are they expected to. Like the rest of us, they simply need to produce something other people value enough to pay for.

    If they can't or won't, that's fine, but then they have no right to demand the government force working families to pay for what is often mind-bogglingly dull and uncreative "art" that no one would buy if they had a choice.

    Government funding for the arts encourages dependence and mediocrity. Time to can it completely.

    If you want people to pay for something, make something people are willing to pay for.

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    • Allen Sundry:

      16 May 2016 2:39:16pm

      " Artists do not have to work for nothing, nor are they expected to. "

      but it seems that they are expected to quite often

      would it be reasonable for a company to advertise for any other type of job offering no pay, but just the chance for exposure, or a good reference?

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      • Wanderer:

        16 May 2016 2:59:32pm

        Its called an internship.

        Or volunteer.

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        • gaius:

          16 May 2016 4:50:58pm

          or try being an architect. Design competition anyone?

          Even the state government requires you to sign over intellectual property.

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      • gnome:

        16 May 2016 7:21:43pm

        I don't want her to work for free. I'd much rather she went out and got herself a job.

        I imagine, even as we consider the matter, she is gloating over her cheque from the ABC. Perhaps if she learned to kerb her prolixity a little she could become a regular public intellectual.

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    • Jonathan:

      16 May 2016 6:38:29pm

      Cuts to family benefits are long overdue.

      It is simply that ordinary single people who're also tax payers are getting fed up with paying for other people's children / hobbies. Parents do not have to work for nothing, nor are they expected to. Like the rest of us, they simply need to produce something other people value enough to pay for.

      If they can't or won't, that's fine, but then they have no right to demand the government force single artists to pay for what is often mind-bogglingly dull and uncreative "children" that no one would teach if they had a choice.

      Government funding for the family encourages dependence and mediocrity. Time to can it completely.

      If you want people to pay for something, make something people are willing to pay for.

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  • Michael:

    16 May 2016 2:21:41pm

    Sorry but I do agree with the cut to the Australia Council for the Arts budget.

    Until rather recently I was unable to afford to go and see plays or even afford to go to the art gallery (which although free meant I had to get there and spend that time in the gallery which was not time earning).

    I had to pay for food and education and was quite broke.

    I couldn't afford the dentist, or the glasses I needed, barely afforded rent. There are other priorities in my opinion (this is not to say that this government is meeting them). I would rather that money be spent on healthcare, education or infrastructure.

    As far as working for exposure is concerned, if it's not worth it to you don't do it. The reason that it still exists though is that it is worth it to people. It is worth a lot.

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    • HPH:

      16 May 2016 2:51:03pm

      No kidding? you were broke afterwards?

      You sure you didn't go to see footy or cricket with your children and paid the price for a couple meat pies and drinks.

      How many times a year do you go to a museum or an art gallery?

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      • Michael:

        16 May 2016 3:08:45pm

        Now a good dozen.

        Then never.

        I worked I studied I ate. I have very little life just so that I could live and go to uni.

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        • HPH:

          16 May 2016 3:30:15pm

          ...didn't we all?

          Creativity takes courage.

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        • Michael:

          16 May 2016 3:44:37pm

          No it doesn't.

          It take money and willingness to prioritise a certain way. Neither of those things are courage.

          Now that I have money, and time I do a lot more creative things. Now that I am stable I do a lot more creative things.

          Not courage.

          Many people I know who were artists at the time I was struggling are now scarcely better off then I was then. I now can spend money on doing creative things and I do a lot of it.

          I have little doubt that I will overtake, in sheer amount of creative stuff (art if you will), my old friends because I can throw money at it.

          But even with loving art and artistic pursuits even with spending large sums of money on buying art, art supplies, writing, drawing, painting, designing. I still cannot justify 28 million to the arts when instead you could say give every Australian a one million dollar medical account.

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        • Caite:

          16 May 2016 4:39:01pm

          You mean a one dollar medical account.

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        • HPH:

          16 May 2016 5:47:56pm

          "..I still cannot justify 28 million to the arts.."

          You can't? How odd!

          If we, the Australian people, spend $22 BILLION on gambling every year, why can't we spend $28 million to the arts?

          Amazing!

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        • nameless:

          16 May 2016 6:04:47pm

          So we, the Australian people, would rather spend our money on stuff other than art? So the Government is simply responding to the will of the people then by doing the same?

          I mean, if we can't be bothered funding art personally, why should the gov't bother to do it on our behalf?

          The great artists of history suffered for their art (art from adversity...). They didn't get gov't hand-outs to make it.

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        • Jed:

          16 May 2016 6:17:30pm

          Money spent on gambling is done privately from personal funds. We don't all pay a levy with the proceeds going toward the government having a bob each way on the second favourite in the third race at Sandown.

          If people want to make art, they can have at it. But if they can't make it pay, then they can do it for free like any other hobbyist. Just because you declare yourself a professional, doesn't mean the world is obliged to reward you with a salary. I can't declare myself a professional golfer and then get a government grant to chop around Yarra Bend gold course at 27 over par. Why should someone else be able to declare himself a professional artist and have the government fund him to make art that nobody actually wants to see?

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        • gnome:

          16 May 2016 7:25:55pm

          The Government spends 22$ billion on gambling every year?

          OK, let's divert some of the government's gambling expenditure to the yartz. That seems only fair, and very logical.

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    • Allen Sundry:

      16 May 2016 3:03:03pm

      The cost of a single submarine could fund the arts for quite a while

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      • Greenkiller:

        16 May 2016 3:36:50pm

        You're absolutely right, but it's about priorities and the arts are quite rightly down at the bottom of the pile.

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      • Martin:

        16 May 2016 3:54:50pm

        Allen - You call it a submarine - I call it a submersible, nautical, installation piece able to re-envision the motion of the occupants through a viscous, aquaeous medium to fulfill the machinations of the Canberra based elitist war mongers! Perhaps if they add a glass bottom we'd both be happier?

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  • Stevem:

    16 May 2016 2:23:06pm

    Can't argue with any of that.

    Anyone who saw the show on ABC where the artists (loosely described) argued their point for funding last Friday, witnessed a perfect example of why funding should be cut.

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    • NomDePlume:

      16 May 2016 5:05:41pm

      Typical ABC debate where everyone agrees with everyone else and only one side is presented. Artists demanding more funding on the largest publicly funded media/arts organisation in Australia. How depressingly predictable.

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  • Losimpson:

    16 May 2016 2:25:37pm

    I never quite understood how funding for the arts fell into the purview of that well known art critic George Brandis. Be that as it may, the cuts are what you get when you have a government which believes everything can be reduced to a dollar value. Got to get rid of those pesky quality of life issues.

    The other interesting thing is the comparison with the decline of Britain's NHS, perhaps in line with what the government is attempting to do to our Medicare. Is Lynton Crosby involved? I would not be surprised.

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  • Severed head:

    16 May 2016 2:40:38pm

    So your argument goes something like this.

    Hey there, the idiot with the money. You need to hand that money over to me because I'm just so superior. I'll think and art for you and then tell you what you have to think. Otherwise you'll continue to get dumber.

    Commonly, known as The 21st century art of elitist extortion.

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    • HPH:

      16 May 2016 4:20:20pm

      "You need to hand that money over to me because I'm just so superior."

      And you think those funds go straight into the pockets of the performers and artists?

      In Festivals: who pays for the carpenters, electricians, labourers? Who pays for the hired-equipment? Who pays for the rent? Who pays for the transportation? Who pays for the electricity, gas and water used in the festival? ..and for lots of other costs?

      "I'll think and art for you and then tell you what you have to think."

      Modigliani who died at age 35 of tubercular meningitis exacerbated by poverty is probably turning over in his grave right now.

      dhead !

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  • Greenkiller:

    16 May 2016 2:42:20pm

    "...128 arts organisations have just been named to share a paltry $28 million a year..."

    That's 128 organisations too many and $28 million too much.

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    • Allen Sundry:

      16 May 2016 3:04:35pm

      $28 million represents less than half the cost of a single F-35 fighter plane.

      I think we get better value out of those 128 arts organisations

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      • mike j:

        16 May 2016 3:36:26pm

        Really? Who do you think would win out of an F-35 and 64 arts organisations?

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      • Greenkiller:

        16 May 2016 3:58:23pm

        That's cute, Allen. Unfortunately you can't destroy an enemy aircraft about to bomb an Australian target by throwing a bad sculpture at it.

        The jets actually have a practical use; the art doesn't. Artists don't need government funding to be artists. However air forces need government funding to purchase, operate and maintain fighter planes - it's certainly not appropriate they be funded by the private sector, which is where all arts funding should come from.

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        • Caite:

          16 May 2016 4:41:20pm

          How many Australian targets are about to be bombed? Just curious.

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        • Greenkiller:

          16 May 2016 5:11:09pm

          It's unlikely that any are about to be bombed - for now. Having fighter jets helps ensure we won't be, now or at any time in the future when it could very well be much more likely. Just because there's no immediate threat doesn't mean you don't ensure we're ready to meet or deter it, and I'm afraid that's vastly more important than funding bad sculptures and worse TV. Defence - the safety and security of the nation and its citizens - remains one of governments' most important priorities. Ensuring talentless hacks can do glorified graffiti is just about the least important.

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        • mike j:

          16 May 2016 5:18:55pm

          How many targets do you know with 100% certainty are not about to be bombed?

          Most people don't want to bet the lives of their friends and family on some treehugger's intuition or magic 8-ball, which is why we have a defence force.

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      • Kenny:

        16 May 2016 5:07:40pm

        Do we? Without googling, name 5 of the 28 organisations, and one work that each of the 5 has produced in the last 12 months.

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      • nameless:

        16 May 2016 6:10:03pm

        And 28 million is 2.8% the cost of a Sydney Opera House (in today's money).

        No one is saying we can't have both, just that you need to justify your wants.

        The F-35's had a business case and have a clearly defined use for the next several decades. You put money in, knowing (within reason) what you'll be getting, and for how long it will do its thing.

        "Art" on the other hand has ...?

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  • Jeremy:

    16 May 2016 2:48:25pm

    You write beautifully Kali. Thanks for that. I see you've already attracted a number of readers that have swallowed the rhetoric that art should pay for itself though. These people seem to think that somehow, magically, there is a pot of money somewhere in the mainstream that will train, sustain, and encourage artists to do their job. It has never been the case and it will never be the case. These people have obviously never tried it themselves, but they will complain bitterly if the Australian film they see "isn't good enough"- if the TV show they're watching "isn't good enough - if the art they're looking at (if they've ever walked into a gallery in their lives) "isn't good enough. Making art in whatever form takes skill and talent and subsidising - and the truth is, the government gets an amazingly good deal out of artists. Cultural activity generates around 50 billion dollars per annum yet is given less than 7 to survive.

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    • Alfie:

      16 May 2016 3:04:31pm

      "These people seem to think that somehow, magically, there is a pot of money somewhere in the mainstream that will train, sustain, and encourage artists to do their job."

      Yet, that is how I started in business - back in the old days we used to call it "the real world".

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    • reaver:

      16 May 2016 3:24:54pm

      Why should there be something "somewhere in the mainstream that will train, sustain, and encourage artists to do their job", Jeremy? Why should that something be funded by taxpayers? What is in it for the average taxpayer?

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    • Greenkiller:

      16 May 2016 3:35:27pm

      No "rhetoric" to swallow, I'm afraid, just basic common sense to understand and appreciate. It might be that there won't be a lot of private money around for artists (although private arts philanthropy has been around for centuries so it puts the lie to your statement there has never been "money in the mainstream" for art). However that doesn't stop artists from being artists. They can still be artists. They're just going to have to produce art that people want to pay for if they want to make a living from it. If they don't produce that sort of art, they're going to have to make a living another way. I'm an artist of sorts but not a very good one, so I work at another job and do art when I'm not working to make a living. It's really that simple.

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    • Dugong:

      16 May 2016 3:40:24pm

      "swallowed the rhetoric that art should pay for itself though"

      Whereas you believe that others who don't want your art should pay for it anyway.

      Only one of those propositions is logical. Hint: it isn't yours.

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  • Wanderer:

    16 May 2016 2:53:30pm

    A professional is paid. If you are not paid, you are not professional. A volunteer perhaps. Enthusiast possibly.

    Arts have always lacked funds. Its historic. I challenge people to find one era filed with rich artists.

    There is such a desire for people to create art that we have illegal art (graffitti)

    What is rare is that this "profession" demands funds from government not on a basis of views, determined public benefit or anything else.

    Just because. Im sure hollow word like enlighten, open or educate will be used.

    Well if pay is a determination of worth, so must be the final product. Instead of bemoaning the pay perhaps you should look at the product. So much is for sale already.

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    • Jean Oliver:

      16 May 2016 3:57:03pm

      There seems to be a dreadful assumption as to what 'arts' organisations are. Clearly they are not a painters and sculptors. The Wangaratta Jaz Festival has lost it's funding altogether. Roughly $50,000 a year to put on a wonderful and well attended festival which also did the usual benefits to the local community's economy. They'll continue without the assistance, find a cheaper venue (probably not as good) and charge more or charge for some parts which were free to the public. Theatre groups will struggle without the financial base they built on. Everyone will be the poorer for this penny pinching. Yet govt can still throw $250 million for unwanted religious chaplains in schools. I think the priorities are up the creek. This funding has nothing to do with 'pay' - it allows things to happen. Killing off arts culture is barbaric (with apologies to the Barbarians who made lovely jewellery).

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      • reaver:

        16 May 2016 4:21:12pm

        There is nothing at all stopping the Wangaratta Jazz Festival (or any of the others) from continuing other than the possible unwillingness of the attendees to actually pay for it, Jean. If the attendees wish to pay for it then it can continue. If the attendees are unwilling to pay for it then it does not deserve to continue. If it is indeed "well attended" then the organisers should have no problem covering the costs.

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        • gnome:

          16 May 2016 7:37:50pm

          You're such a philistine , reaver. Didn't you read what JO wrote? "Everyone will be the poorer for this penny pinching."

          If the Wangarooopie Jatz festival doesn't go ahead the world may well move off its current axis, the price of beer will rise and goldfish will emerge from their lowly captivity and devour your chihuahuas. Then you'll be sorry!

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        • Wanderer:

          16 May 2016 8:37:41pm

          One of the other empty statements. "Everyone will be the poorer"

          No they wont. The artists will be richer. And the non viewing public. They will be richer as they wont be paying.

          The viewers will be richer too if they believe it is value for money.

          The real question is who pays and what their payment promotes. The vested interests just want funds full stop.

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        • Jean Oliver:

          17 May 2016 9:08:07am

          I said it would continue anyway reaver ! People are willing to pay so don't write rot. The assistance helps with bringing world renowned artists here. The festival is 26 years old and it has huge community support but no longer from our government. I gave this as an example of what taking away funding can mean to any similar event around the country. Local artists/performers' careers benefit from having access to these events. Your response is typically pathetic. No sympathy for anything and no concern for the millions for the chaplain farce.

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        • reaver:

          17 May 2016 10:51:00am

          If people are willing to pay then there is no problem and no reason for government funding, Jean. If the paying attendees are willing to pay for "world renowned artists" then the festival will have "world renowned artists". If the paying attendees are not willing to pay for "world renowned artists" then the festival will not have "world renowned artists". The "huge community" will get what the "huge community" is willing to pay for. This is called "getting what you pay for".

          Local artists/performers' careers may indeed benefit from having access to these events. So what? How does that justify the government funding them? Can it justify it and if it does then why does the same not apply to every other job in every other field? Should the government also heavily subsidise advertising in every other industry and if not, why not?

          The Chaplaincy program is a massive waste of taxpayers money. One massive waste of taxpayers money does not justify another. Every expenditure of taxpayers' money should be justified and "My preferred bottomless money sink is slightly smaller than another bottomless money sink" is far from being a justification.

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        • Jean Oliver:

          17 May 2016 11:10:40am

          It gives them a base from which to plan as it does for other similar events. They are run by volunteers. Wangaratta Jazz Festival already figured on not getting funding (I think they knew the mind set of this current government) and they haven't been totally caught out. But this scenario is being felt by some hundreds of worthwhile organisations . The money now available has been $14m for Qld, $28m NSW, $25m Vic, $11m SA. Various dance companies have each received over $1m and an art gallery $300k. I believe they are for four years' of funding. Brandis has pinched $60m for him to determine who gets what. Community based groups apparently figure low even when they are far more popular than certain elite art forms. There is little rationale going on but even less compared to $250M for chaplains.

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    • RosieA:

      16 May 2016 4:00:57pm

      What absolute rubbish. Your argument is basically: if you are good you will find a job and be paid and if you are not being paid, it is because you are no good. Pay is not automatically related to quality of work or capacity and is becoming less so. It is being determined by what those with power and money deem worthwhile and are prepared to employ others to do.

      As a society, we want to spend our money on material goods and anything that feeds our narcissistic self-importance. We don't want to spend any money on anything that might inform us about who we are as people, our humanity and what we might be doing to the planet on which we live. Anyone with any quality capacity in the latter areas will have trouble finding work. I use as an example the fact that one of our top climate scientists, professional to his bootstraps, is likely to be made redundant from the CSIRO.

      Meanwhile, there are any number of CEOs earning huge salaries that have little relationship to that person's capability or benefit to society. People who are not held accountable in any way for the adverse impacts a company might have, such as the recent dam disaster at a mine site owned by BHP.

      I also know of numbers of people whose income is indicative of their capacity to rort the system and cheat on others. For example, electricians who put up solar panels at full cost to the client and then claim the renewable energy rebate as well; or those who claim private expenses as work expenses on their income tax return; etc. Professional? Hardly.

      If we don't want a society in which the majority of humans are treated as cogs in a machine, expendable because of the current huge numbers of people, then we need to start behaving differently. Giving artists the capacity to reflect back to us who we are, is a good start. No, people don't want to know who they are any more than they want to know about climate change but denial will not lead to a civilized place.....for anyone, not even highly paid CEOs.

      Thank you Kali for an excellent article, both in content and quality of style. Professional to the last word. What a contrast to many of the posts!

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      • Lexx:

        16 May 2016 4:30:32pm

        Your counterargument seems to be that anyone who fancies having a shot at art should be supported by the taxpayer.

        So, I pay quite a lot of tax at the moment, but if I decide tomorrow that I want to stay at home and spatter my interpretation of modern society onto canvas, do I automatically become owed a living?

        What makes a person an artist worthy of public money?

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        • RosieA:

          16 May 2016 9:13:20pm

          Lexx, I think you are putting into my comment, attitudes and thoughts which are not there. I mentioned people with quality abilities.....not anyone who wants to stay at home. In addition, the article is talking about funding institutions, not individuals. The arts also refers to a greater number of creative activities than art.

          I've noticed one of the "techniques" that people try and use to counter views they do not like, is to exaggerate what is being said and then claim that what is said is not valid.....how dishonest is that?

          What makes many of our politicians worthy of public money? We don't individually get to decide.

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        • Lexx:

          17 May 2016 12:31:25pm

          I might be really good at it. How will we know unless society supports me while I'm trying it out?

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        • RosieA:

          17 May 2016 1:37:57pm

          People working in the various fields of The Arts, have a period of training, usually leading to a qualification. Those with a high level of ability in their chosen field become apparent, as in any other area of study. Working in artistic fields is not a case of being unskilled. No-one is suggesting society pays anyone who decides they would like to "have a go" at some artistic endeavour, anymore than society pays someone to "have a go" at being a doctor, scientist or whatever else.

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      • reaver:

        16 May 2016 6:16:49pm

        Level of pay generally does correlate very well to how good you are at a job*, RosieA. Those who pay you do so based on what service you provide to them. If you supply a good, rare and valuable service that they need then they will pay you more than if you provide a less good, less rare and less valuable service that they might only want. They will pay you nothing if you supply no service at all. Those with the money determining the worth is exactly how it works and how it is meant to work because they are the ones who will be paying or not paying for the service or lack thereof. Why should you get paid at all if you offer nothing of value (they get to judge whether it has value, you do not) to the people you want the money from?

        The CEOs' salaries have little relationship to that person's benefit to society because they are not meant to have any such relationship. The CEOs' salaries are directly linked to their benefit to their companies, to those who are paying them, to those supplying the money. What benefit does arts funding have for the taxpayers, to those expected to supply the money?

        *A job is not merely activity, it must have a purpose for the entity you are doing it for. Something is not a job merely because you want to do it and think that you deserve to be paid for doing what you want.

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        • RosieA:

          16 May 2016 10:17:55pm

          I agree totally that a job must have a purpose but there are enormous variety of purposes. In my comment, I was making the point that reflecting back to society many of its attitudes and behaviours, including behaviours that are destroying the planet on which we depend, is a purpose. The problem is, many people do not want to know themselves or see what they are doing, and their way of trying to avoid this is to withdraw funding in the hope that they won't have to confront such knowledge.

          The problem we have at the moment, and which I think is crucial for the coming election, is that it is the wealthy who want to decide what purposes have value and warrant expenditure, not society as a whole. And the problem with that is that many of the wealthy see the only purpose in life being to make money and be wealthy so as to have the power to determine what everyone can and can't do, as they hold the purse strings. This is not conducive to a well-functioning, content and diverse society. This is not how the system should work although it is the way the powerful want it to work so they can manipulate it to their own benefit.

          Your comment about CEO's salaries is precisely why corporations are so damaging for our society.....you are confirming that they are there purely to make money for the shareholders (and themselves) and that how they do so is irrelevant. Too bad if they are destroying the ecosystems on which we depend, exploiting people or providing poor services and value for money......if the corporations are making money, that's all that matters. The story of King Midas comes to mind and the result of trying to turn everything to gold.

          There are many people (taxpayers) who enjoy and value creative works of many kinds (music, theatre, film, etc) and that they are made possible by government only makes sense......those creative works can then be available to those who could not otherwise afford to fund such activity. If you don't particularly get any value from any form of the arts, so be it.....it doesn't mean your taxes should not contribute. I personally can't stand football but "my taxes" are used to help fund football stadiums and ovals.

          Have you ever thought what sort of society we might have if people were able to be their creative selves and work in ways that were satisfying to them? It might actually be a very lively, stimulating and sustainable society, not a "dead machine" being run by wealthy people for their own personal benefit with little concern for other humans and other life. You seem to have a very negative attitude to the inherent abilities and creativity of many people. You seem not to notice that the current system is producing a very sick society and environment.

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  • Big Ben:

    16 May 2016 2:59:21pm

    "back in Australia, I can't be certain of a sausage."

    Instant noodles, sweetie. I can't stomach reading much beyond that, because it's such a pathetic whinge it just calls right back to Karma reverse charges and asks for a loan ... and it's not wise to borrow from Karma, Kali.

    I work for free, and it has nothing to do with my self-worth. You'd be amazed at how the quality can be maintained on a tight budget, but sometimes you have to spend a little time saving up the dole so that you can pay for what the mercenaries take for granted ... but that's experience that can't be bought, and what doesn't kill you makes you fat, y'know.

    Perhaps you could stop whinging and take a good look at yourself from an objective point of view, because if you're not getting paid what you think you're worth, then perhaps it is because you are a very generous kind of soul (who would not whinge about it) or else you're not actually worth what you like to think you are, eh? I wouldn't whinge about it on a national public forum like ABC Drum. It's the road to embarrassment.

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  • Mozza:

    16 May 2016 3:01:44pm

    Like Trevor said; by applying the same immature logic to sports club that would mean if they don't make any money then taxpayers should not fund them. Right? Right? You simple minds, you don't even realise how much poorer your already drab existences would be without the arts. A lot of these funded artists go on to create what passes for entertainment on those boxes you stare at over your dinner. The general public do appreciate (a dumbed down version) of the arts. They just don't know it but they will if its funding is taken away.

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    • Michael:

      16 May 2016 3:23:04pm

      So less tv then...

      I don't see any problem with that.

      Less sports clubs....

      I don't see any problem with that.

      Spare funding to spend on healthcare, education or infrastructure.

      I see lot's of benefits of that.

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      • Allen Sundry:

        16 May 2016 3:52:26pm

        "Spare funding to spend on healthcare, education..."

        presumably not arts education

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    • Dove:

      16 May 2016 3:31:12pm

      What an extraordinary fatuous and arrogant post. If you think the arts should receive taxpayers funding then the burden is on you to come up with some arguments. Just because you enjoy the bohemian credentials required to appreciate the rarefied and connaissentive forms of true artistic expression doesn't give you the imaginary right to peer down your nose at the "drab..dumbed down" degenerate art enjoyed by us huddled masses

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      • Allen Sundry:

        16 May 2016 4:18:28pm

        The arts receive very little funding compared with other things that taxpayers fund. But the arts are worthwhile to a lot of people who vote - we can afford to fund the arts. Im sure the country would be a better place if people valued art more highly

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        • Greenkiller:

          16 May 2016 5:31:39pm

          "...the country would be a better place if people valued art more highly."

          Perhaps, but the simple fact is that it's not highly valued except by a tiny minority and it's of no practical use.

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        • bella:

          17 May 2016 9:46:20am

          thats simply not true, more people attend arts and cultural events in this country than attend sporting events, so clearly it is not the minority that value these things.

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        • reaver:

          16 May 2016 5:58:21pm

          What evidence can you provide in order to substantiate those claims, Allen, and if no evidence can be presented why should we or the government take them into account when deciding on arts funding?

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        • Dove:

          16 May 2016 7:54:34pm

          Allen Sundry, thanks for your reply, and thanks for your position, which pretty much comes down to that you happen to like art. I happen to like art too. I have my opinion on what's good and what's bad, and so do you. Government funding for the arts distorts this. Some public servant, or worse, politician uses our money to decide what's good art for us. They then dole it out to whatever medium they happen to think is either worthy or good for us. We don't choose anymore. They do.

          Taste, quality and good art can only be determined through collectivising everyone's subjective opinion. This is done through mechanisms like voting, and by spending. The art people like gets looked at and sold, the art that people don't like, doesn't. This is neither the view of the Philistine, the Luddite nor the Barbarian

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        • phil:

          17 May 2016 8:25:54am

          we would end up with our galleries

          filled with pictures of horses galloping in the surf

          and chinese junks in the sunset.

          Just because its popular doesn't mean its not

          crap. without going into a history lesson

          the likes of van gogh and the impressionists

          were radical in their day, Art is usually way ahead

          of its time

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        • Dove:

          17 May 2016 9:19:38am

          phil, those cultural icons of which you speak have been bought by someone. With money. The purchaser has expressed their artistic tastes and now they hang on the wall next the one with the dogs playing snooker and photo of the workers having smoko on the Empire State.

          You like impressionism? I think it's junk. I happen to like early renaissance devotional art, something you might think is junk. The genre with the most votes wins. The most visitors to the gallery, the most sales of the posters to be laminated and hung next to the dogs playing snooker. Using public money to pay for art that no-one likes is bad policy, bad economics and bad social spending. It's giving arts funding to comedians who aren't funny because they're local or that you want to encourage a particular sub-set. It's like giving funding to bad chefs who make inedible food because it's edgy. because they're doing it in NYC. I'll put some tears in my jeans right away.

          Neither you, nor I nor some public servant are the judge of what is or is not art. We don't fund ACDC, the most popular music among Australians and the most popular music by Australians in the world, but we do fund people to recreate 18th century European ballet. What a promotion of domestic culture. Making a distinction between the two is arbitrary, arrogant is the epitome of a nanny state

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        • Michael:

          17 May 2016 8:07:13am

          "Im sure the country would be a better place if people valued art more highly" I'm glad you are sure but care to back it up with something like a reason?

          Why would Australia be a better place if we valued art more highly? And specifically why would the nation not be as good a place if we reduce this funding?

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    • reaver:

      16 May 2016 3:40:02pm

      It is not a matter of only getting a financial return or benefit, Mozza, but it is about getting some kind of tangible benefit for those paying for a thing. What tangible benefit (actual, provable, identifiable, direct benefit that is equal to or greater than their contribution) does the average taxpayer get from arts funding? And, no, poorly created "entertainment" that is created through the private funding of private media companies is not one of them.

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      • bella:

        17 May 2016 9:55:43am

        How about economic activity because that seems to be the only criterion that you value.

        The tangible benefit is that people are employed, people generate economic activity.

        Many commentators here seem to be thinking that these grants are for individual artists to do something wanky that 'no one" (read: them) understands/likes/values. These are organisational grants that support organisations. Most of these have other income streams but do need some additional funding.

        These are businesses, these are theatre companies, dance companies, art centres, publications etc etc.

        And here's a list of the jobs that will go when these organisations shut down: managers, administrators, marketing, publicity, ticketing and front of house roles, IT, actors, performers, electricians, plumbers, lighting technicians and designers, stage technicians, props,and set construction workers, carpenters, costume designers and manufacturers, editors, printers, art transport, art conservation and installation, writers, camera operators, film and tv editors and so on and so on and so on.

        This is what is being destroyed, economic activity... that is the real, measurable, tangible and provable benefit of funding.

        And look up the economic multiplier effect too because that is measurably greater in the arts/culture sector than many others.

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        • reaver:

          17 May 2016 11:56:36am

          Why should taxpayers' money be used to subsidise the specific economic activity in question, bella? If heavy subsidisation for economic activity is justified then why a dance company instead of an accounting company? The economic multiplier effect applies to many other industries so what is supposedly so special about this industry and this type of economic activity that would justify the creation of a stream of subsidisation specific to it?

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    • Dugong:

      16 May 2016 3:46:15pm

      "You simple minds, you don't even realise how much poorer your already drab existences would be without the arts"

      Goodness knows I can be a bit thick at times, but are you serious, or being sarcastic?

      If you're being sarcastic, I laugh along with you.

      If you're serious, the you are literally asking inferior minds to your own to fund you, because you couldn't be arsed making something that anyone is actually prepared to pay you for.

      Wow. Just wow.

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    • gnome:

      17 May 2016 9:44:20am

      Television isn't dumbed down art, it's tarted up technology.

      And commercial television isn't subsidised either. In fact, quite the reverse, it is forced to compete with a fully government-funded competitor.

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  • Fraud Bored:

    16 May 2016 3:11:10pm

    'It is a commonly held belief among activists in the UK that the current Tory government is engaged in a very deliberate policy to underfund and undermine the National Health Service, putting real lives in danger to force it into disrepair, for the express purpose that they may point to these potholes in arguing the case for privatisation.'

    Denial of health service policy stimulates narcotics investor state product by default. Long waiting que equals extended pain equals extended narcotics usage equals more narcotic investor state profits.

    Is just fraud. Hard to miss really.

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  • Angela Faye:

    16 May 2016 3:13:00pm

    "Of course many of us are making exemplary work around the clock. Scribbling ideas on the train journey, begging cheap studio space, scraping together our own money for materials and making innumerable lifestyle compromises to accommodate our crafts"

    Just like the many who are doing part-time study, diplomas, uni courses etc., that also may have family responsibilities, and are holding down a full or part-time job. Paying for materials if their chosen course requires it, studying on the train and when the kids are in bed etc., and also making innumerable lifestyle compromises.

    All by their own efforts without burdening the taxpayer.

    "Your pay reflects your self-worth" struck me as a very materialistic thing to say too.

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  • reaver:

    16 May 2016 3:14:25pm

    Nobody is forcing you make art for others for free. You can just say no. Nobody is forcing you to enter into profit sharing contracts. You can say no. An artist can say no just as a plumber or an accountant can. What then is the problem?

    If many artists were "making exemplary work around the clock" then there would be no need for government funding. The public would be lining up around the (metaphorical, no doubt mostly online) block in order to hand their own money over.

    Hughes' theory that a reduction in arts funding results in a dumbing-down of the public requires evidence. If evidence cannot be supplied then the theory can be disregarded.

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    • Charlie:

      16 May 2016 5:53:18pm

      I agree to a point. Australian film could not have gotten a start without funding. And it's no coincidence that it's now on the decline. Apart from the odd, bold standout that actually thinks about its audience.

      Unfortunately, most people aren't rushing out to see a critically acclaimed piece about the bleak lives of heroin addicts and their dialogues with a lesbian, separatist sewing circle.

      But there's a bigger social question here. Should governments be funding what are, essentially, hobbies and interests - no matter how passionate? Should tax payers be funding an AIS so someone can swim / jump / run a bit faster? It plays well to national pride. Which makes no sense - as if you or I had anything to do with it! But is arguably a waste of money.

      At a minimum, I would divert all this into blue-sky research, R&D, and let people dance in their off-hours after work.

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  • purgatory:

    16 May 2016 3:21:38pm

    Why is it whenever the LNP gain government there is a rapid migration of the many of most talented Australian's to countries where their abilities are much more appreciated and paid for?

    LNP's governments always claim there is an expenditure problem, claim governments are too big and fund too many areas, including the Public Service. The talent drain occurs whenever the LNP are in power as they reduce expenditure from every area possible, (including selling everything of value/or that generates revenue).

    The LNP distribute revenues based on some stupid idea that giving taxpayers money to the rich will 'magically' cause them all to have the benevolence to employ everyone, although the LNP expectation seems to be that artists/workers/unemployed (internships) will labour for 'free', if the Private Sector don't want to pay wages/commissions.

    There is a name for this sort of forever exaggerating/deceitful 'pretend' magician. They are forever pushing a barrow and shovel in suits and blue tie.

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  • ArthurJ:

    16 May 2016 3:21:41pm

    I am both writer and soon to be artist with the introduction of our part of our work as art due to a high demand.

    No funding is received and none is expected. I did apply for funding for an adventurous piece of non fiction a year or so ago for the hell of it. I missed out of course.

    The books are not found in most Australian libraries but are found practically everywhere else. Something about being "too technical" for Australia.

    I joined one of those government funded groups and found it to be some form of sham run to gain some form of income for those being paid. By joining I mean I had to pay a fee and then during a meeting somehow convince people that having a major publishing deal is a big deal for a writer.

    So what does it all mean? You have to be one of a certain style of in crowd to be in. Thankfully I am not and thankfully I have a great publisher and am appreciated just about everywhere else in the world.

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  • Matthew:

    16 May 2016 3:27:07pm

    any of you been to a festival lately? THEY ARE FUNDED. if they aren't, good luck affording a ticket to attend.

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    • reaver:

      16 May 2016 3:46:34pm

      "if they aren't, good luck affording a ticket to attend."

      That is called "the free market", Matthew. If someone wants to put on an event, including a festival, then they should provide an event that people want to attend. If they also want money then they should also provide something that people want to pay for and at a price that the people are willing to pay. Why should the taxpayers pay for events that the attendees themselves are unwilling to fully pay for?

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      • Allen Sundry:

        16 May 2016 4:19:54pm

        quite a lot of taxpayers do want their taxes to go towards art funding

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        • Big Ben:

          16 May 2016 4:34:56pm

          Do you mean 'want' as in willing to write their name down on the list of Australian citizens who boycott medicare, and boycott public education?

          How many taxpayers do you know who would give up public health and education so that their taxes can pay for art funding, and how much do they earn in total between them, so how much income taxation do they pay in a year?

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        • reaver:

          16 May 2016 4:37:21pm

          Exactly what is "quite a lot" and what is your evidence, Allen?

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  • Big Ben:

    16 May 2016 3:27:13pm

    Just a thought. Why don't you learn Hindi and write to the Indian government and ask them for your funding? India has a far larger population so your art could be shared amongst a far larger audience and you're bound to hit the big-time if you're half decent at anything artsy.

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  • Rutegar:

    16 May 2016 3:31:14pm

    Gawd ... seriously ?!?

    "Why should my tax dollars go toward something I personally don't give a toss about ?"

    That's the argument still being rolled out.

    Seriously ?!?

    That's the argument ?!?

    Hell, I'm not thrilled about my tax dollars subsidising the perpetual loss-making adventures of would-be real estate barons, but apparently that's in the national interest.

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    • reaver:

      16 May 2016 3:51:11pm

      If I had my way then you would not be forced to fund it, Rutegar. Unfortunately I do not get to have my way, but the majority of voters do. If the majority of voters want the arts funding restored then they will demand it. If they do not demand it then why should it be restored?

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    • Allen Sundry:

      16 May 2016 3:53:50pm

      Mate!

      investing in loss making real estate is Australia's greatest art!

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  • foxlike:

    16 May 2016 3:38:27pm

    There is heaps of public money supporting the arts. Starts with the training in schools, universities, training and trades institutions, and continues in state, national regional and shire galleries, dance, theatre and opera companies, orchestras, exhibition spaces, street art, commissioned public art, writers' festivals, dance festivals, music festivals etc. etc.

    I agree with the profound effect that the arts have on the quality of a nation and its society: but sadly this piece is full of the self-interested view of some artists that because they have chosen this path in life, the rest of us owe them a personal living.

    Lots of so-called art is thin on content and meaningless to all but its creators. They resort to calling the rest of us philistines, but the reality is they are, well, non-competitive. You just know when you are faced with terrific art, memorable, meaningful, enduring stuff, whether that's on tv, in a gallery, in the street, or in a book.

    We, the people, the philistine taxpayers, have pretty good judgement, actually, and if you wish to make a living from art, do what the kid who wants to make a living from app design, or accountancy, or cooking, has to do. Make sure you've got the goods, and then get out there and sell them. You never know, maybe you'll make it! If you can't, get a day job and do your art when you can - as hundreds of thousands of artists have done through the millennia.

    But please, stop being precious about being 'an artist'. Best of luck.

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  • Magpie:

    16 May 2016 3:41:01pm

    It's a really interesting and complex issue. Actors can unionise to a decent degree of effect. But can other artists do that? I mean, as long as people are willing to work for free, people will try to hire them for free. If people are undercutting your work, how do you stop them (even if that's to help them)? Can artists withhold work to force change, as unions needs to threaten to have any power...?

    I really don't know. What do you do to stop artist-scabs? How could you ever stop them undercutting everyone else?

    As long as more people want to do a job than there is paid work available in that job, you will inevitably have a sense of desperation in the workers that employers can exploit. It strikes me this has a lot of similarities to precariate work in "sharing economy" sectors. Look at, for example, a lot of freelance writing or translating work. The pay is miles below minimum wage, or even living wage, if you're in Australia. But how do we stop that?

    I really have no answer.

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    • Big Ben:

      16 May 2016 3:53:52pm

      "But how do we stop that?"

      Personnel agencies are always short of good strong hard-working casuals to unload pantecs or fill in with order-picking when the full-time storeman goes to Thailand for a few weeks, and they usually pay minimum wage or above if you have a valid forklift ticket, even if you never get to use it. You just need to embrace the concept of workplace flexibility and do like normal people do. Let your fingers do the walking.

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  • mike j:

    16 May 2016 3:43:51pm

    As the ABC has twice blocked my own artistic expression in response to this article, this seems like another 'do what we say, not what we do' ABC moment.

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    • ArthurJ:

      17 May 2016 8:24:08am

      I think I to have suffered the wrath of the censor with a post.

      And to think in my paid writing work I have to face the censor eye to eye and battle. Never lost a battle yet. Yet here anonymous does me in.

      As I said in an earlier post, not appreciated in my own country.

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  • Unn:

    16 May 2016 3:55:16pm

    Dear Kali. You may want to assess what kind of artistic career you want. One option is the W Somerst Maugham approach. Maugham had a great desire to be a writer. More he had a great desire to be a wealthy, successful writer. He achieved his aim being blessed with prodigious talent, ambition, great capacity for work and the determination to find what style of works his readers and and audience wanted. Being popular, he became wealthy.

    Another option is the Vincent Van Gogh approach. Van Gogh was true to his artistic vision but entirely unsuccessful in life. Of course he is now wonderfully famous and his work is incredibly expensive. On this approach, you might be willing to accept lack of immediate financial reward in return for integrity and the hope of eventual fame.

    It is your choice. But I doubt either Maugham or Van Gogh lost too much time lamenting the lack of government funding.

    As a final point, the primary means by which modern society funds creativity is by giving artists copyright protection over their creations. Public grants have a more limited role and cannot support a majority of aspiring artists.

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  • Andso:

    16 May 2016 4:00:37pm

    The liberal party doesn't actually have an art's policy.

    Under 'Our Plan', it lists all their policies, from policies for industry to policies for health.

    But an art's policy or cultural policy is not there.

    Sort of reflects Australia I would think.

    A multicultural society eventually has no culture, but a miss-mash of nothing in particular.

    And eventually the population just become workers and consumers to benefit an elite.

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    • Gordon:

      16 May 2016 5:07:26pm

      Why does a government have to have a policy about every single thing? Is a motherhood policy required before babies are kissed and tucked into bed? Further, why does "policy" inevitably mean "funding". "Industry policy" means choosing which crock to prop up with money. Arts policy means choosing whether ballet gets more money than poetry.

      All this does is reinforce the idea that no-one has to do anything because anything worth doing is already the government's job. It crowds out what little supportive impulse might exist naturally.

      The grand artistic eras of the past were based on a few scraps of royal patronage, the middle class showing off a bit of wealth by collecting, and artists except the absolute rolled-gold geniuses getting SFA and working a day job.

      One way to convince your "elite" that arts should be funded is to make it clear that if they don't do it there won't be any. That might loosen a few wallets.

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      • Andso:

        16 May 2016 6:15:39pm

        I suppose the liberal party couldn't come up with any innovative thoughts regards the arts or culture.

        So that was dropped from 'Our Plan', (although I don't know who developed the plan to call it 'Our' plan)

        You may be right in that the political party that has taken control of the country shouldn't interfere too much with the public.

        But then, members of political parties often attend cultural events to get media publicity and bask in the glory etc etc.

        The liberals do have a policy for health, and I would like to think the arts have some part in the mental health and spiritual health of the common folk.

        I would not like to think the neoliberals regard the common folk as just workers, consumers and mortgage fodder for the banks.

        I would hope the neoliberals think of the common folk as having more value than that.

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  • Zoltar:

    16 May 2016 4:10:17pm

    The Australian government's fiscal position is currently haemorrhaging $100 million dollars a day. Or in other words the government is giving out (on average) more than $4 a day to every man woman and child more in funding, that what it is raking in in revenue.

    Given this fiscal position, if the Arts community wants to advocate for funding at the existing level (let alone increased funding), then they need to advocate for higher taxes, or for the withdrawal of benefits from others.

    So, what should government reduce the funding for, in order to provide continued money for artists? Women's shelters? Foreign Aid? Infrastructure? Mental health programs? [If you nominate defence, the response is "well they would say that, wouldn't they", and will be diresgarded.]

    Or, do we just pay for Arts funding with debt? We know where that leads. Around $1 billion a month is currently paid to service government debt, which is $1 billion a month that can't be spent on Arts or other programs.

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    • reaver:

      16 May 2016 4:26:34pm

      They can validly nominate defence, Zoltar, as long as they can justify both it (the reduction on defence spending) and why that money (or indeed any money at all) should be spent on the arts.

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  • Orion:

    16 May 2016 4:23:31pm

    It seems to be a certain kind of "artist" that needs public grant money to do their art. They usually think the rest of us don't know any artists. Well I do, but I don't know artists like them.

    I know a few artists. One is a high school teacher who is a very good painter and he has held successful exhibitions in trendy galleries. His wife is also very good but she doesn't exhibit. She works. His work sells for good prices, but he still teaches. He regards his art as an enjoyable hobby that earns him extra income. Two of my neighbours are successful actors who have appeared in films and TV shows as well as on stage here and overseas. Income for them can be very unpredictable and they can have long spells at times between engagements, especially when they were less successful. They both work when not engaged and both have qualifications in other areas. The hardest thing for them is not finding acting work but being apart when working in different countries.

    I don't see why artists who can't support themselves full-time from their art can't do other work as well. I know from my friends that this is not unusual.

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  • Nothing To See Here:

    16 May 2016 4:26:32pm

    Just as the old joke indicates...

    Q. What did one arts graduate say to the other arts graduate.

    A. Would you like fries with that.

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    • Dugong:

      16 May 2016 9:50:30pm

      An old joke, and a good one.

      But at least the first arts graduate had a job, I guess.

      Better than this self-serving "the world owes me a living because I'm special and you just can't see it" turgid excuse for an opinion.

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    • Dove:

      17 May 2016 6:54:27am

      Ah, the classics. The only thing funnier than that joke are the people who don't know the difference between an arts degree, and art

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  • J:

    16 May 2016 4:40:54pm

    It is such a beautiful thought that there is enough capacity in this world for everyone to do what they want to do and make a living from it. If people don't think my output is worthy of reward, the Govt had best step up!

    I'd personally like to provide comfort and company to lonely dogs and I think i have just as much right to ask for funding to support that as a struggling (unsuccessful) artist does to support their choice.

    The value of Art isn't tangible. We can't put a limit on how much people pay for art, it wouldn't be fair and it would distort its value. For the same reason, we can't underwrite it's failures.

    Proof is in the Puddin

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  • the yank:

    16 May 2016 4:47:31pm

    I have comer to the conclusion it is a waste of money for the government to support the arts.

    Not all Australians but a substantial majority could care less. The funny thing is it tends to be the rich that enjoy the concerts that government money supports. Though I have seen groups of school children go into a museum to see an exhibition ... that is until they can go off and start taking selfies or goggle the latest fashion or music craze .

    Money for arts? Like throwing pearls before swine.

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    • Greenkiller:

      16 May 2016 5:21:21pm

      Yes, curse those unenlightened philistines who don't appreciate art. Better yet, maybe get artists to do something that's relevant to them and they might start appreciating it more. The vast majority of art is unappealing to the majority because...well...it's unappealing. Not the majority's fault.

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    • reaver:

      16 May 2016 5:54:36pm

      Swine have no use for pearls, yank. What use does the taxpaying public have for the supposed art that they are expected to pay for?

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  • firthy:

    16 May 2016 4:59:33pm

    What a load of self serving crap. If we have made a decision not to fund operations like Ford, Holden and Toyota why should we fund art? If the author cannot convince someone to part with their hard earned cash to watch or read what she produces why should the taxpayer fund it? Clearly it has limited appeal...

    I can say I had a little sympathy for the comments the author made regarding funding of the military and the criticism of Sainsbury's. in respect to the former I wouldn't use that cash to fund the arts though. I would use that cash to pay down our debt and to fund useful infrastructure projects.

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  • Michael:

    16 May 2016 5:11:16pm

    If it is any good people would pay for it or to see it. If it's rubbish they won't. Why should the tax payer pay for rubbish?

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    • Big Ben:

      16 May 2016 5:39:32pm

      Because her dad said he's not going to shell out for her weekend hobbies anymore.

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  • Jerry Cornelius:

    16 May 2016 5:32:41pm

    Australia should increase its funding of the arts if we wish to be an intelligent, well informed and culturally sophisticated society.

    There is no doubt that popular artists can satisfy their audiences and make money at the same time, and the market is an effective and democratic funding mechanism for popular culture and entertainment. But the market doesn't know what is of artistic or intellectual importance, it only knows what is fashionable.

    As a society we have inherited a vast Western cultural tradition of enormous artistic and intellectual value. It would be ignorant to dismiss all this as being old fashioned and out of date.

    In addition to our western cultural heritage, Australia is a country uniquely wrapped in a mosaic of indigenous art, stories and songs. Our first cultural priority should be to protect this and develop a national appreciation of its significance.

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  • stephen jones:

    16 May 2016 5:42:25pm

    I think the Australia Council should be disbanded - in other words, they should be sacked - and the money which the Arts Minister gives to arts' companies should instead be handed directly to the top of the tree, say the Sydney Theatre Company, and they should be entrusted by a committee vote or something like it, to distribute funds to amateur troupes or the semi-professional, as they see fit.

    Only the smart can see the smart, and so far much financial assistance has been given to groups who, from my experience, should not, in performance, have gone public and therefore, should not have been paid ... the above article, at any rate, stresses that organizations who will miss out now are in training only, and that Belvoir Street and the STC have offered these trainees paid work, where they can get experience and audience love.

    (Sometimes, as an actor or dancer, you don't know what you feel until you put a 'word' down on paper, even an odd one)

    OK, maybe the Minister can distribute funds to 5 major professional performing companies, then, who each will establish an in-house apprentice scheme for the young and aspiring, and be responsible for their education ?

    Perhaps teaching might be a part of their conditions for further funding.

    At any rate, the opportunity for access to funds for some groups has not been cut off entirely from this latest government squeeze; there are apparently other sources for money, not least, a part-time job.

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  • Paul Taylor :

    16 May 2016 5:48:34pm

    The current LNP federal govt. under PM Malcolm Turnbull keep on inventing labour programs that do not exist . Despite being warned by international credit rating agency Moodys to increase revenue than engage in draconian expenditure cuts, they talk about the need to live within our means while further cutting funding to the CSIRO and the Arts.

    Tourism produces the greatest number of jobs & revenue in the Australian service sector ( directly &indirectly....promoting sporting events, agricultural produce, cultural events, the Arts & not just natural attractions)....currently worth $80B to the Australian economy. Look at the impact of the Sydney Opera House on the Australian economy. Now imagine the impact of multiple iconic, architecturally stunning national travel centres; incorporating all the states & territories in each of the capital cities & employing the latest in audio, visual & digital technologies & theme presentations to promote & sell Australia; built & maintained on government land by winning private enterprise tenders put to international competition & based on leaseholds; comprehensive private enterprise income generating attractions like cafeterias, cinemas, restaurants, special effects theatres , advertising & the full employment of the Arts & Sciences whilst the states & territories still maintain independence in their operations. Now that would add to a productive building construction recovery independent of housing!

    Infrastructure spending presents a double edged sword: as a nation you improve your own Australian industry competitiveness or you allow foreign competitors to exploit your economy after eliminating the local opposition eg. selling off local government monopoly owned industry and utility icons on the international market.... privatising income generating government owned corporatized assets via direct sale or one sided 95 / 99 year leaseholds...& then spending the proceeds on providing infrastructure that improves the capital value of the investment and increased generated profits ( with taxes minimised) to the new foreign owners....OR

    On the flip side of the coin foreign investment and domestic investment could be directed toward producing new assets like National Travel Centres built on government land, widening the scope of job opportunities, as outlined above. The same approach used in Brisbane - $2B entertainment arena and parklands over Roma St rail yards and $3B Queens Wharf casino development.

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  • Magic Bean Buyer:

    16 May 2016 7:03:26pm

    If you can't create art without government funding then you're not serious.

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    • reaver:

      17 May 2016 12:58:01am

      Of course they can make art without government funding, Buyer, they just want it anyway. This is a fine example of the modern entitlement culture. What we have here is an entire "industry" of people who demand that they be paid large amounts of money to do what they and they alone want to do and who are not willing to take no for an answer. This is why they demand taxpayer funding. The people have shown that they will not pay for this "art" voluntarily and so the "arts community" demands that they be forced to pay.

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  • johnoz:

    16 May 2016 7:32:12pm

    This has been the reality in the, publicly funded arts sector for, years.

    Virtually all of the money is paid to' art workers' to do administration.

    Its why I left the funded sector and became a ' commercial' artist, the commercial art sector pays, doesn't just hand out worthless ' recognition'

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  • steve3:

    16 May 2016 9:48:47pm

    With few exceptions being an artist has always been a poorly paid profession. Even the great Renaissance artists were often underpaid for their work.

    I think as a cultural issue there should be some tax payer support for Australian artists, but within limits. I have seen a lot of performances and exhibitions that had tax payer support over the years and in my honest opinion some of it was very good and some was truly, deeply awful.

    Which is where it gets difficult, the bureaucrats that decide what should be funded seem to get it wrong at least as often as they get it right.

    Just one last point, why is modern visual art so damn ugly? Apart for billionaires who would like to own a dead shark in formalin, and have a place in one of their multiple mansions to put it, the general public -taxpayers- hate that kind of rubbish. Yes I know shock and ambiguity started being fashionable about 1920 but why stick to the formula for so long? What happened to grace, beauty and harmony? If if they are still out of fashion then perhaps the taxpayer funding of ugly visual art should go out of fashion as well.

    Performing arts still are, for the most part beautiful and would seem to deserve the funding they receive.

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  • Dugong:

    16 May 2016 10:18:36pm

    I've got to hand it to you Kali, I've rarely seen a less effectual opinion piece on the ABC.

    As a filmmaker, I would have thought you'd be a teller of compelling stories. Convincing us of the imperative to fund the arts should be a no brainer for a person of your skills and talent.

    Boy, was I wrong.

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  • SurveyorMick:

    16 May 2016 11:08:00pm

    I understand in hard financial times that money spent on the Arts will be questioned; but so should tax cuts to the rich or to great companies like Coles or Woolworths that are supportive of our farmers.

    Which suburb do you want to live in? One with glorious parks & gardens, street art, museums, cultural offerings, (all expensive) or the other option with minimal street landscaping, graffiti (no cost if you leave it there), only businesses that make money eg take away, the big two supermarkets, shopping malls, carparks, basic building designs etc.

    The Arts have a place in a rich well balanced society like ours; maybe look at alternatives such as China, LA, the Gold Coast.

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  • floss:

    17 May 2016 2:13:14am

    For those who do not want to pay for art, there is plenty of graffiti on building walls to look at. This has been created entirely at the artist's own expense.

    There are also colorful cartons and bottle labels on the supermarket shelves, all showing the work of artists who are quite well paid, so we all pay for that when we buy the product, whether we like it or not.

    Advertising gives us copious amounts of visual art and music, and sometimes even poetry in the form of a jingle. However gratifying or annoying, we pay for that with the product, too.

    Computer games and film engage highly paid artists for Computer Generated graphics and emotionally captivating music, along with script writers who come up with a plot and characters to act it out.

    There is plenty of well paid work for artists but unfortunately not in Australia: we import nearly all of the artist's products from other countries and send the significant profits off shore. Even when it is the work of Australian artists who had to go overseas to gain paid employment.

    Our bank notes are works of art we all pay for. Some enjoy the images more than others, for they have more to enjoy. In privacy, of course.

    Then we have the conflict of interest where those who supply art for free, or very little, are actively undermining the whole sector. Why pay for something when you can convince somebody else to supply it for nothing?

    Remove all the designs, the color, the singing and dancing and what is left? The bleak life style of the Puritans and the strife which followed.

    Just think of how much money they saved, which could be used for other purposes.

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  • Forrest Gardener:

    17 May 2016 7:05:17am

    Just one question.

    When budding artists finally generate a secure independent income from their art, perhaps even enough to pay income tax, do they then pay back the grants they received?

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    • Conservatorium:

      17 May 2016 12:57:00pm

      Are you happy to apply that logic to anybody/business/program that has ever received government money? What about a body like the Australian Institute of Sport? They don't make a profit, exist solely on government funding. I for one think we should absolutely fund the AIS as it provides something I value. I'm a little less certain about bailing out banks for example, or giving polluters money in the hope they'll change their ways, as seen under Direct Action. Nobody is expecting that money to be paid back, even though in many cases those businesses have the capacity.

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  • hoolibob:

    17 May 2016 8:21:25am

    Australian Actors Equity - set rates & obtain commitments to not perform for free. If Govt wants acts for tourism events they'll start to coff up or change policies to save $'s. Even back to Shakespeare's day it was all about getting "bums on seats" for the $'s. They gave small free samples in public as teasers/testers via busking. Approach State govt's to ditch busker licence fees, but set regulations eg sound levels,safety & distance from business entries. There is nothing deader than a mall with piped music to tourists. The argument that bad performers decease tourism to regions should be questioned (Meryl Streep's opera singer).

    In some ways the Art industry themselves are responsible for low levels of funding. Eg. I recall one $20,000 Grant in Queensland for performance art that was a performer vomiting in public. Is that really going to drag in the punters - how many people would line up to watch that. Then we have others like Oivia Newton-John, Kylie Minogue that as a singer were totally panned when they started. Movies My Big Fat Greek Wedding had to fund it themselves. The reality is the higher echelon suggesting the grant lists are pinning tails on donkeys & can't pick the bread & butter winners. They want the next best thing so they can claim discovery rights when people are exposed to art day in day out via, television, music, billboards, buses. It is not the next thing (often a short phased fad) that long term pays bills it is the banal.

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  • Regionalgranny:

    17 May 2016 8:42:37am

    'The Arts' covers a great number of pursuits from painting to dance, music, writing and many other pursuits. Those for whom the only pursuit of value, is making money, can often see no value in artistic expression and artistic works. In fact, artistic expression is food for the soul. For those whose abiding interest either professionally or for leisure, is sport, a very similar situation exists.

    If a person was starving and homeless it might be understandable that less emphasis would be put on the arts and more on survival and yet it is proven that artistic expression and participation lessens the stress of homelessness and poverty. For the young and disaffected street art is an outlet for their helplessness in society.

    The fact is that the arts are a very easy target in the name of saving money. Because many in the population do not appreciate the value of artistic pursuits they can justify in their thinking that the arts is just a fanciful pursuit costing the bottom line and easily squeezed. Just as with other costs to government there are savings to be made.

    Perhaps Medicare could be amended to not allow claims for cosmetic surgery other than that medically recommended. Perhaps smokers, alcoholics and drug dependent people could be made to pay for their own health care caused by their habit. Perhaps the Defence Department could have it's 'discretionary' spending curbed. Perhaps the legal aid system could be restrained from pursuing a legal solution for all and sundry in the name of 'legal fairness' when many low to middle earners are not eligible for assistance. Perhaps government could put a stop to politicians refurbishing offices and taxpayer owned dwellings every time a new occupant moves in.

    All of these things and many more would save more money than is spent by government on the arts but of course the arts are like bus stops. Those who do not catch buses cannot see why they should contribute to the bus service. Therefore, those whose interest in the arts does not extend beyond a Game of Thrones, cannot see merit in spending money on pursuits,which enrich other's lives.

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    • stephen jones:

      17 May 2016 9:25:32am

      The houses we live in are designed by our need, and that need is utility, and all utility is art, whether it be a knife and fork, the automobile and in fact the internal combustion engine ... and everything else.

      Scientific thought is essentially reductive in that it is measured by the impulse to make or create, and that generation of the new, and even the testing of it, is one of a creative nature.

      There is no difference between the thinking of an artist and the thinking of a scientist, as they are both creative.

      They both wish to solve problems.

      The difference between the two, is that Art is a primer.

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    • reaver:

      17 May 2016 9:34:25am

      All of this airy-fairy stuff about "food for the soul" and "enrich(ing) other's lives" fails to answer a very important question, Regionalgranny- What are the taxpayers actually paying for? What are they getting for their money? What tangible, quantifiable benefit or benefits do the taxpayers gain in exchange for their money? This is a question that I have often asked, but have never had answered by anyone who supports a wide based funding for the arts.

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  • Bella:

    17 May 2016 2:41:19pm

    This is now becoming more common outside of the arts sector.

    I'm job hunting at the moment and there are a certain % of employers who expect people to do a certain amount of time (say 2 weeks) probation FREE. Like have a probationary period or if you want to test people then put them on as a temp for a month and then go from there, but pay them! I am also studying a number of graduate "internship" type programs are like working for a company for 3 or 6 months for free...

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    • HPH:

      17 May 2016 5:06:10pm

      Dear Bella,

      This is becoming more common in other professions in Australia ?

      We are turning into a mini USA

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Comments for this story are closed.

Source : http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-16/hughes-arts-funding-cuts/7417382

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