Posts tagged arts
“Recently I was asked by a Finnish foundation to write an article aiming to explain to artists what it would mean not to fly to their residencies, called Slow Travel – A Privilege Not A Sacrifice, describing a 3-day journey from rural France to the Saari Residence in Finland, using trains, electric scooters and ships. Within weeks of it being published, artists were either unable to travel to residencies or were stuck in the ones that they were in, because of the restrictions of movement caused by COVID 19. It seems ironic in hindsight that one of the conclusions I drew was “that having travelled by rail and ship many times in one year, I’m also beginning to question the need to travel at all. Slow travel doesn’t mean just substituting a train for a plane, it means changing an entire mindset.” I go on to ask the question “why travel at all?”. Little did I know. Now we have ‘home artists residencies’ and are bewildered by an online melée of endless virtual meetings, remote cocktail parties and non-stop media consumption, what will happen in Europe when we finally get let out?“
Last week, the Australian arts community reacted in horror as news was released of the defunding of around 65 arts companies and organisations. In what is already known as “Black Friday”, the Australia Council released its latest figures for multi-year funding, revealing the bleak result of years of cuts and bungled policy. So far discussion has focused on the crisis facing small-to-medium companies and organisations. But this has obscured where the real damage is happening. The number of Australia Council grants to individual artists and projects has decreased by a staggering 70% since the 2013/14 financial year. According to the Australia Council’s 2013/14 annual report, that year it funded 1,340 individual artists and 2,489 total projects. In contrast, the total for the two funding rounds for 2015/16 was 405 individual artists and 694 projects. This represents a fall of 70% for individual artists, and 72% for overall projects. The number of small-to-medium organisations receiving multi-year funding over the same period fell from 178 to 128, around 28%. The 70% reduction particularly hits artists such as writers and visual artists, who mostly work alone. This intensifies the impact that literature has taken in the cuts. As Writers Victoria said: “It’s impossible to know what Australia’s literary landscape may look like in six or 12 months’ time.” This damage doesn’t even have the bad excuse of “savings”. It is a direct result of the former arts minister George Brandis’s requisition of $105m over four years from the Australia Council budget to finance his unaccountable and secretive National Program for Excellence in the Arts (NPEA).
I asked around the social media, “What are the good open access journals in digital arts, computer music etc?” Motivated by deciding that once I get some commitments out of the way, I’m not going to write for closed access publication any more, especially not with public funds. The results so far, in no particular order
In 2011, cultural industries directly employed 531 000 people, and indirectly generated a further 3.7 million jobs. Copyright industries were worth $93.2 billion to the Australian economy in 2007, with exports worth more than $500 million.2 According to its own figures, the mining industry is worth $121 billion a year to the Australian economy, only around 25 per cent more than the cultural industries. Mining employs significantly fewer people than the cultural sector: 187 400 directly, and a further 599 680 in support industries.3 The industry receives government assistance – to the tune of $700 million in the last financial year.4 In 2011–12, Australian industry as a whole – including agriculture, food manufacturing and service industries – was given an estimated $17.3 billion in combined assistance (a mixture of direct subsidies, tax breaks, tariffs and regulatory assistance).5 This doesn’t count a further $9.4 billion invested in research and development by the Australian government in the same financial year.6 In contrast, it’s probably safe to say that, when discussing arts funding, we’re talking about around $500 million annually, out of a total tax revenue in 2011–12 of $390 billion7 – that is, about 0.1 per cent of total government expenditure. (Assistance to industry, including research and development, is around 7 per cent.) The Australia Council, the major arts funding body, has a budget this year of $220 million.