Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Lifestyle

Get RSM on your side at tax time.

Funding for the Arts – a Satire

By Steven Bailey - 8 October 2014 22

painting-paint-brush-stock-020914

Opposition Arts Spokesman Brendan Smyth has again attacked Arts Minister Joy Burch for providing funding for a controversial artistic production. Funding of $19,000 will be awarded to the Aspen Island Theatre Company for the development of a production titled Kill Climate Deniers. The controversy exists in the context of the Opposition’s attack, earlier this year, on Burch for funding the Fringe Festival which produced a burlesque performance involving a performer dressed as Hitler.

If you don’t like, or don’t understand, the purpose of satirical writing, you might like to stop reading this article now…

I have just finished reading Johnathan Swift’s A Modest proposal. Written in 1729, the satirical essay suggests that the economic turmoil experienced at that time by the Irish could be alleviated by the eating of children. The proposal suggests that children would be sold to the aristocracy, who would pay a handsome sum, and would then have the little nippers prepared in an assortment of stews and roasts. In fact, Swift explains his economic reasoning in persuasive and delectable detail, and argues that Irish sons and daughters ‘are a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food’!

But of course the best form of satire is not restricted to brilliant execution; sometimes the best form of satire is the satire that writes itself.

I can think of two examples.

The first being the dissuading irony with which this year the Canberra Liberals attacked the ACT Fringe Festival for producing a burlesque performance with Nazi references, yet whilst one of the very hallmarks of Nazism was to restrict and punish those who created art deemed unfit by the regime. Such art was deemed by the Nazis ‘Entartete Kunst’, translated into English as ‘Degenerate Art’.

My point being that to condemn those who produce art on the basis of one’s ignorance is to repeat the same kinds of mistakes of the Nazi regime, or, for instance the trials of Oscar Wilde.

Another great satire that writes itself is the recent commentary so graciously afforded to the people of Canberra by the puppeteer of the Federal Attorney General, the master of liberty and great champion of freedom of speech Andrew bolt, where he condemns the funding of art in the ACT which exercises, well… freedom of speech.

If either Brendan Smyth or Andrew Bolt would like to debate me on the issue, this is my number: 0400419404. Of course, Andrew would not need me to give him my number as the Murdoch Press already has it.

Satire aside, the funding afforded by the ACT Government to the Aspen Island Theatre Company will partly go to the writer David Finnigan who is undoubtedly one of the best writers Canberra has ever produced.

To conclude on less of a satirical note, funding for the arts in the ACT is a national, and international, embarrassment. With the Arts ACT Project Funding for 2015 amounting to less than $750,000, the Government should be ashamed of itself. Our Fringe Festival is funded to the tune of $20,000, which I estimate to be less than any other capital city in the first world.

Cultivating citizenship through the arts is central to the wellbeing of society. Indeed, for even commerce and the sciences to succeed they need to be driven by a creative and humanistic imagination. Never before has there been more evidence to suggest that the ability to think creatively and critically, to reason, and to ask questions, are the fundamental components to the development of a compassionate society. It is the moral responsibility of politicians to understand this. To not understand this and yet aspire to be the Arts Minister is an indictment of one’s public purpose.

(For more on this debate from Steven, check out his discussion with Markus Paul last week here)

What’s Your opinion?


Post a comment
Please login to post your comments, or connect with
22 Responses to
Funding for the Arts – a Satire
Steven Bailey 11:22 pm 09 Oct 14

bikhet said :

Steven Bailey said :

Art must be funded publicly. I do fear that one day economic fundamentalism will dictate all of the aspects that make humanity human. Art makes us human and it must be funded.

I agree that the arts should be supported, but object to it being supported by public funds. That’s a good way to get art produced by someone who can deal with arts administration rather than by someone who is good at art. Private funding is no guarantee of good art though – Damien Hirst’s work for example.

I’d also say that art is a product of us being human and the glorious diversity that entails, rather than it being what makes us human.

Out of curiosity Bikhet, would you say that there is no point in having a minister for the arts at all?

Steven Bailey 11:17 pm 09 Oct 14

HenryBG said :

Steven Bailey said :

Art must be funded publicly. I do fear that one day economic fundamentalism will dictate all of the aspects that make humanity human. Art makes us human and it must be funded.

Was van Gogh publicly funded? Was Turner?

When you have public funding of art, you end with the galleries full of pretentious, meaningless tatt from the likes of Tracy Emin and Lucien Freud. and stages clogged with rubbish the likes of Puccini.

Funding the arts

That’s interesting Henry. So I take it that you prefer Wagner over Puccini…

dungfungus 10:03 pm 09 Oct 14

Steven Bailey said :

Art must be funded publicly. I do fear that one day economic fundamentalism will dictate all of the aspects that make humanity human. Art makes us human and it must be funded.

“economic fundamentalism”?
Didn’t you mean “Islamic fundamentalism”? They are the ones that are in the business of “making humanity human”.

Antagonist 8:44 pm 09 Oct 14

Steven Bailey said :

Art must be funded publicly. I do fear that one day economic fundamentalism will dictate all of the aspects that make humanity human. Art makes us human and it must be funded.

The ACT government has a terrible record when it comes to publicly funded ‘art’. For example, we have the Belconnen owl that resembles something phallic ($400k), twisted metal that looks like hair from the nether-regions of Optimus Prime ($750k), and a ‘skywhale’ that for ‘artisitic’ reasons needed 10 breasts ($300k). The ACT public have not been getting good value for their tax dollar. It needs to stop.

HenryBG 5:09 pm 09 Oct 14

Steven Bailey said :

Art must be funded publicly. I do fear that one day economic fundamentalism will dictate all of the aspects that make humanity human. Art makes us human and it must be funded.

Was van Gogh publicly funded? Was Turner?

When you have public funding of art, you end with the galleries full of pretentious, meaningless tatt from the likes of Tracy Emin and Lucien Freud. and stages clogged with rubbish the likes of Puccini.

Funding the arts

bikhet 4:14 pm 09 Oct 14

Steven Bailey said :

Art must be funded publicly. I do fear that one day economic fundamentalism will dictate all of the aspects that make humanity human. Art makes us human and it must be funded.

I agree that the arts should be supported, but object to it being supported by public funds. That’s a good way to get art produced by someone who can deal with arts administration rather than by someone who is good at art. Private funding is no guarantee of good art though – Damien Hirst’s work for example.

I’d also say that art is a product of us being human and the glorious diversity that entails, rather than it being what makes us human.

Antagonist 3:29 pm 09 Oct 14

Steven Bailey said :

Art must be funded publicly. I do fear that one day economic fundamentalism will dictate all of the aspects that make humanity human. Art makes us human and it must be funded.

It is hard to give credit to the arts when the ACT taxpayer has to fund Belconnen’s pen$s owl for $400k, Optimus Prime’s p#bes for $750k, and the skyboobs for $300k. I don’t think the arts are giving the ACT taxpayer good value for money.

Ben_Dover 3:12 pm 09 Oct 14

Steven Bailey said :

Art must be funded publicly. I do fear that one day economic fundamentalism will dictate all of the aspects that make humanity human. Art makes us human and it must be funded.

Oh don’t talk such rot.

The only reason art must be funded publically is that the workshy fops who produce it have no other way of feeding themselves, apart from claiming benefits

The sort of “art” we see abandoned on Canberra’s streets, courtesy of our lefty town council, demeans us as human beings, and laughs at our gullibility.

Steven Bailey 2:50 pm 09 Oct 14

Art must be funded publicly. I do fear that one day economic fundamentalism will dictate all of the aspects that make humanity human. Art makes us human and it must be funded.

astrojax 8:07 pm 08 Oct 14

MERC600 said :

Well of course it had to be called ‘kill climate deniers’ in order to get the cash.

If it were called ‘kill climate believers’ you would get sweet f/a.

which, like all other comments here bar howobscure’s, entirely misses the point. which is the point.

MERC600 5:37 pm 08 Oct 14

Well of course it had to be called ‘kill climate deniers’ in order to get the cash.

If it were called ‘kill climate believers’ you would get sweet f/a.

bikhet 3:41 pm 08 Oct 14

HowObscure said :

@ #1 bikhet The same could be said for anything that receives government grants. Why pick on the arts sector? )

Because that was the subject of the article.

Ben_Dover 3:05 pm 08 Oct 14

HowObscure said :

@ #1 bikhet The same could be said for anything that receives government grants. Why pick on the arts sector?

Mainly because the money spent seems to produce nothing but useless w@nk.

HowObscure 12:48 pm 08 Oct 14

@ #1 bikhet The same could be said for anything that receives government grants. Why pick on the arts sector? Sports grants, and a wide range of sectors, utterly DWARF arts funding in Australia, and it is attitudes like yours that make our arts program an embarrassment on an international scale, where funding in Europe and North America is far higher. As an operator, for many years, of arts businesses that are not dependent upon arts funding, I understand your sentiment, but the fact that a work of art may not be popular enough to make it viable on its own, does not make it bad art; in fact it is the very area where new innovations and our great artists of the future come from, or it may be the sort of art that challenges old-fashioned ideas and contributes to social change in our community. Should sports organisations, whose clubs do not attract a paying audience have their funding removed? Furthermore, most of the arts grants are start-up funding. Artists have a project that they need start-up assistance with to see if it’s viable, and if it is, they continue on under their own steam. The idea that a grant is somehow different to that should be the other reason you might be embarrassed.
Nice article Stephen 🙂

bikhet 11:10 am 08 Oct 14

The only reason I might be embarrassed by the level of arts funding by the ACT Government is that they do it at all. I might, repeat might, support a government loan to provide start-up or bridging funding but not grants. If the art was any good someone would pay for it out of their own pocket rather than out of the public purse.

Related Articles

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top
Copyright © 2017 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.
www.the-riotact.com | www.b2bmagazine.com.au | www.thisiscanberra.com

Search across the site