17 September 2005

Should live music venues get the arts grants?

| johnboy
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NowUC have an interesting story on the financing of live music in Canberra with Brian from Toast suggesting that arts funding would be better spent on venues than on bands.

Tricky subject. I’d hate to see government funding supporting karaoke or bogan covers. How many covers in a set would trigger a funding review? Sample-heavy electronic acts not sufficiently original?

All those questions however should be surmountable. Perhaps rather than direct funding special lower cost licences would be in order?

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Sam, you’re the man! Couldn’t agree more…
This whole series of stuff is veering pretty far away from the origional source but it is opening up a can of worms so to speak. I might also add that over the years I’ve done all sorts of work, white collar, blue collar and no collar at all… & that as far as hard work goes, music and art take the cake. This may be difficult for people who don’t try and make stuff to imagine. It all looks so easy. It all seems so easy. But its a much harder slog than it seems and 99% of it is incredibly underpaid. The rewards in the business are immense but the difficulties are immense as well.
That was another thing about grants, generally the ones available aren’t going to be a lot of money but just money for materials (& money that’s been given for materials is required to be used in this manner.)
On another note I’ve never heard much grumbling in this country about sport recieving government assistance. The money that is channelled into sports is immense despite government protestations to the contrary. Looking at a place like the AIS is interesting. The money that went into its creation and into its maintenence must be immense and far exceeding that of arts institutions of a similar stature. So if its okay for money to go towards sports its okay for arts. Lets also not forget that the ABC is government funded. Bonfire , you say that “art and state patronage belongs to east germany etc.” Then lets disband the ABC according to that logic and get rid of the National Gallery, the National Museum, and so on. You really have to think of the implications of what you’re saying…

My name is Sam
I’m 18 years old; I study jazz guitar at the school of music I have one weekly jazz gig, which I am paid under minimum wage. I record local bands in my home studio. I play in two local original bands Dahahoo, One Night Jam and sometimes I’ll do 5 gigs in a week.

What a lot of people don’t understand is that most gigs you do in Canberra as a local original band you do for free for the love of doing it, just to have people hear your music. And on the odd occasion when you do get paid, that money usually goes back into the band.

So if you study full time and do 5 gigs in a week and come away from that week with $50 to live on how are you supposed to afford to put any money towards your art. Towards equipment, towards CD duplication, towards advertising, so that’s why I went for an arts grant.

In fact the singer in One night jam, Vorn, recently did a course in small business and they told him that for him to only just qualify to get a some grant thing he was telling me about, that he would have to do 8 gigs a month and earn $150 a gig consistently for a year.

Now I don’t know how many of you know anything at all about them local music scene but that just doesn’t happen. I don’t care how hard you work.

Now I know all of this is pretty unrelated to the original comment but I just thought I’d post it because I don’t think people realise how little money artists actually make practicing their art.

And there for arts grants are useful as a spring-boards for local artists.

Absent Diane11:16 pm 24 Sep 05


Absent Diane11:15 pm 24 Sep 05

The public service is a convoluted crock of shit…. Im not saying that it has the same fat cat stigma of the 80’s but so much garbage goes on to acheive very little……the public circus goes in thse big circles and tangents and results in systems which are unusable and the office environment is a destroyer or morale and creativity.. At least artists are doing something a little more important and attempting to entertain/enthrall people in this mostly pointless and mundane existence on this planet….

Maelinar, just to rectify something, for much of the latter part of his life Van Gogh lived primarily OFF THE EARNINGS OF HIS BROTHER, NOT HIS OWN EARNINGS. Prior to this he was a minister untill the church sacked him for being too interested in the miners and their struggles. So I don’t know what this makes Mr Vincent apart from someone who sponged off his brother but also someone who had a social conscience so it would have pained him to do so. I don’t judge him for any of this but I suppose you might/you might not. That’s your decicion. The fact that his work is bloody good is fantastic. Either way, its always been one of my pet hates to presume that just because something sells at the moment its worthy and that just because something doesn’t sell at the moment its crap. There’s no real logic to that arguement. There’s a lot of other factors involved in selling or not selling than just the quality of the work.
Simto, there’s a lot of crap music in the local scene I agree BUT there’s also some diamonds in there. But that’s neither here nor there in regards to funding or not.
As far as the marketplace and funding goes, I’m all for artists trying to make as much dollars as possible from whatever avenue. A while ago a woman wanted to be my sugar mama, me being the shy idiot that I am I ran from the situation. A sensible artist would have said yes to such a proposal… I’ve also been a shy idiot in regards to grants. But DOLLARS IS DOLLARS ($ = $) and the more money you can make the more work you can get done (due to being able to get more materials etc)
I just don’t think that the worth of a work can be seen in its sales value. The comment that got me so hot under the collar in the first place was this “if they arent good enough to earn a quid – maybe they should become public servants instead of assaulting us with droning dirges” which regardless of my good friend Bonfire’s statement to the contrary does suggest that the immediate dollar value = the intrinsic value of the work (NOTE THE TERM “IF THEY AREN’T GOOD ENOUGH” RATHER THAN SOMETHING ALONG THE LINES OF “IF THEY JUST CAN”T SURVIVE ON THEIR SALES” OR SOMETHING TO THAT EFFECT) If there wasn’t that equation suggested in there I wouldn’t have reacted with the fury that I did. Its ALWAYS been a pet hate and it doesn’t add up. Adios Kemosabe – Tonto

I can’t see what you’re on about. What I wrote in the first place was:

“it really depends on whether you think the arts are a useful service for government to provide or not. I’m guessing you don’t. Konrad does.”

As far as I can see, there isn’t much difference between that and the stuff I said later. So if you can explain to me how I appear to be changing tack, I’d be most grateful.

Yeah, of course there’s a number of differences between a grant and a wage, but the underlying principle of “cash paid to a person (or in the case of paying grant money to venues, possibly a corporate body of some kind)” remains. Which is the point I’m trying to make.

To put it in caveman language – Government give money to people for reasons they think good. They give me money to do work for them. They also thinking give money to people for music. Maelinar thinks government give money to people for music stupid. Konrad think goverment give money to people for music good. Personally, me not give a shit since me think most local music kinda crap (there, that should make me unpopular with everyone now!)

And nope, I’m not involved in handing out grant money, and I’d be intensely uncomfortable about doing so, so you can sleep comfortably.

Simto, you’re changing tack faster than an Americas Cup race.

The fact that you can’t differentiate between a salary/wage and a grant aside, I do hope however that you don’t work in a grants administration unit.

I certainly see my work as being valuable, and absolutely nothing in my comment suggests that I don’t. I was directly addressing your point “As a taxpayer do you feel somebody should be allowed to live off the Government for free without any requirement to pay the money back, from the revenues made avaliable from your taxes?”

Do I think that what I do is pretty important for the government to provide to the general public? Absolutely.

Do artists who seek public grant money? I’d guess they do as well.

Thanks for the backup Winston, Simto if you regard your work efforts as a public servant as not being valuable, perhaps it’s time to try a new volition.

Winston Smith2:48 pm 22 Sep 05

It seem that both of you are on the same side of the same point of view, it may be a little different. We all would like to see more like music in venues around town.

The movement from live original to cover bands and now onto duos has been painful to watch at times. There are many top muso who have to play old Chisel songs just to play for a crowd but ultimately it is what people want to see, if they did not that would tell the venue owners and that would be gone also.

As to giving grants to private business, if you are a private business it should stay that way. It would be came a nightmare attempting to administrate grant. How would ensure that the grant goes help musicians and not keep an unprofitable business afloat?

Would this type of thinking extended to a restaurant who may have a future famous chef working there?

And to all the people who think that all public servants are not worth the air they breathe, use you brain and try and have an orignal idea. Not all publisc sevants are self servants, just as not all unemployed are lazy bums. If you were bleeding to death would you not go to hospital to seek medical attention from a government run hospital or would you wait and go private?

I live off the Government for free without a requirement to pay the entire amount back, based on other people’s taxes. It’s called being a public servant. Anybody who’s paid for the government to do anything (politician, soldier, policeman) is paid by the government by other people’s taxes.

So it really depends on whether you think the arts are a useful service for government to provide or not. I’m guessing you don’t. Konrad does. That’s a fair enough summary of your arguments?

Please, Please stop referring to Van Gogh as unsuccessful. Whilst he didn’t make the uber millions his art is worth while he was living, he still made a living from selling it. It may not have been a huge amount of money, but he was by no means unsuccessful.

Konrad, you’re currently going down a line of thinking that I’d like to explore. As a taxpayer do you feel somebody should be allowed to live off the Government for free without any requirement to pay the money back, from the revenues made avaliable from your taxes ?

And before you go into debasing my conversation based upon my pseudonym, it’s my perogative why I use it, and I have many others I can use. Having come from a multicultural background, I have several names that have been given to me other than my christian names. Maelinar is a name that has significance to me and it is the name I choose to go by on this website. (For your information it means ‘He who guards the gate’, or Warder, in Elvish) If you want to know my real name, that’s also avaliable if you push the correct buttons, and read my email address.


Now you’re speaking a bit more like an adult so I will too…
I have no problem with the idea of grants, here’s part of the reason – a good friend of mine was supported by one for the first year of his writing career, it helped him get his manuscript finished and it helped get his career off the ground. For the past quarter of a century he’s been comfortably supported by sales in the marketplace and has more than paid his debt back in taxes for the government grant that started it all. Without the initial investment from the government I doubt very much that he’d be writing today. Grants are great for being the spring-boards of careers. On the other side of the coin I’ve seen a lot of bad work being supported by grants so I can appreciate reservations in this area. Also these days the grants system is strange in that it seems geared towards assisting artists more in the middle of their career than in the beginning. This seems a bit stramnge to me but its a problem with the system rather than the idea of grants in general. A massive problem with the arts is that talent and the marketplace are sometimes notoriously slow in shaking hands. Clive Barker lived off welfare for eight years while writing his first books and going nowhere, if he were to take the hint he’d be a nothing nowadays, Van Gogh NEVER was a success in the marketplace and Orson Welles had to spend a lot of time doing crappy roles in a lot of crappy films so that he could make the films that the marketplace was disinterested in but its these films that have survived and thrived since. So the marketplace isn’t always going to reward talent & hard work. Its a silly notion to suggest that it will. So really, if a grant or some other form of government assistance is available at crucial stages in an artist’s development this seems a reasonable thing to grab hold of. The dole isn’t the most productive or supportive form of government arts grant. Very, very few artists (including GOOD ones) can make a living off of their art, including ones who are in demand, and it seems reasonable to take whatever is offered from wherever.
As far as where this whole discussion started (venues recieving assistance) it seems quite ok by me. The more venues, plus the more variety in venues, then the better for this town in general. ANYTHING that would be useful to keeping venues here would be appreciated by all I’m sure.
Adios Kemosabe – Tonto


‘You also haven’t exactly addressed my main problem with you which was your insipidly stupid statement that equated the quality of a work with its financial worth in the marketplace but then again, maybe you do love Ms Minogue after all, don’t you, you idiot… ‘

I have many genres and artists in my multi media music collection: cello to country, hard rock to harpsichord. Sadly, I cant conform to your stereotype because I do not have a single minogue item in my collection, except for the cave/minogue collaboration. I’ve paid to see musicians for over 20 years, I’ve even bought cd’s from buskers. I have art by australian artists hanging on my walls. I buy locally written books – new. You cant say I don’t do my bit. If I like something I support it financially. That’s the way the market works.

You deftly twist my words to suit your agenda by implying that I equate the quality of a work with its financial worth. I said no such thing. I said that if noone pays to see you – take the hint.

You, it appears by self acclamation, may even
have ‘talent’, I don’t know, let me know when you next perform and I’ll come and throw 20 cents in your hat. I’ll then post a review here.

I am not a hypocrite and I don’t believe that talentless hacks who cant take the hint should have an ongoing grant funded career. That’s what bedevils Australian literature and art in general.

If noone wants to pay to see you, why should you continue to perform to empty rooms just because you get a grant ? I don’t think we are in disagreement on this point.

I also thought that the govt already gave arts grants, known as the dole.

Bonfire, you’re just making your stupidity pretty damn clear, you tell me the following “konrad, “mate, if noone PAYS to see you do your thing – take the hint. fuck off and harvest mung beans.
and if noone pays to see you do your thing – why should i donate my taxes to you?” when I’ve clearly stated that I’ve NEVER used a grant dimwit, so there’s little point in trying to attack me personally on that one you silly inarticulate idiot. Neither do I wish to harvest mung beans, 10 years ago when I was very poor I lived off the bloody things for 6 months & people DO PAY to see me do my thing as you put it fuckwit. At the same time I see grants as clearly quite useful in developing talent so that eventually that talent may be able to flourish on its own. The same thing is done for the sciences, although Australia does have a problem of losing most of its talent in both areas to overseas since countries overseas tend to nourish both a little more than the wonderful land of Oz. Oh yeh Mr Bonfire, you should use your OWN NAME when telling someone to fuck off too, just like I’m doing with you you dum shit-brained moron. You also haven’t exactly addressed my main problem with you which was your insipidly stupid statement that equated the quality of a work with its financial worth in the marketplace but then again, maybe you do love Ms Minogue after all, don’t you, you idiot… ALL artists go through periods of not making much money out of their pursuit, that’s the nature of the business. If some choose to use grant money to get by that’s fine. You get by however you choose…
But as far as grant money or government support of some kind going towards venues it’d be really good, think of the long term benefits to Canberra in terms of trade (tourism etc) if more effort was made to actually make the place interesting…
Adios – Konrad Lenz

Absent Diane11:21 am 21 Sep 05

I have on a very few gigs had the opportunity to give all players on the night +$30…very rare though..

Absent Diane9:34 am 21 Sep 05

Exactly…. eg ‘Hi venue give me a gig and pay me minimum wage of $30 p/h.. ‘ yeah right as if that is going to happen!!

check out this website for a bit of a laugh: http://www.musicians.asn.au/union/artists.pdf

if mucicians were actually getting paid what they are meant to be getting paid (yes, there is a minimum wage) rather than $15 to split between five people and two free beers each, then there would be no need for grants. Great in theory, but very unrealistic. I agree with Konrad

Absent Diane5:56 pm 20 Sep 05

Sorry LG what we earn is actually the dole (thought you knew:)) – so feel free to spend the day smoking pot in the starewells, blaming everybody else for our pathetic lives…

Anyway the service I deliver only wheels the oils of inflated egos….. and yes I would take a paycut if it meant more money went into supporting the arts….

AD, I didn’t know we got a dole cheque! I thought we only got our salary. Can’t believe you’ve known this all along and didn’t tell me!

because the useless pricks in the public service deliver services which oil the wheels of society.

such as you getting your dole cheque.

Absent Diane3:46 pm 20 Sep 05

And as I have said why should useless pricks in the public service get paid for doing nothing when muso’s with talent who work there arse off and get paid nothing

Absent Diane3:41 pm 20 Sep 05

The grants are mostly always used for recordings -in fact that is the main criteria for receiving a grant – what will the money be used for. This is a good thing….

The manner in which many lives venues have been shut down is akin to the witch hunts… using noise complaints / OH&S issues as a means to shut down competitors… which is why I boycott several venues

As far as pokies goes we have nothing on sydney or melbourne – I don’t think that is a major problem here….. yet!!

AD, you are so out of touch with amazing things.

I can turn water into beer. Beats Jesus and the fishes hands down every time.

Back on topic, I’m afraid I’m with bonfire on this one, success is the natural selection way of culling the inferior people. The reason I am sitting at my desk today is unequivicably related to the fact that my art looks very similar to art I produced when I was still in Kindy (Not that that’s a bad thing given the quality of shite that’s being produced as ‘modern art’).

My tax dollar isn’t intended to support some tryhard fool or some single mom with a warped ideology produce art.

Then again I feel that way about the AIS. Australia is cheating by training up athletes full-time, and should be penalised for allowing professionals to compete at the olympic games. (I’m a recalcitrant supporter of amateur sportsmen and women if you haven’t guessed that already)

Given that I’m not completely briefed on the issue, what’s the big problem with someone getting up with a guitar at a pub and getting money for it ?

In Ye Olde world it would have been called a Bard. Given Canberra’s infatuation with Ye Olde world pubs, shouldn’t it be a given ?

Or have I just exposed yet another reason why Canberra’s plastic irish pubs are and never will be authentic.

konrad, mate, if noone PAYS to see you do your thing – take the hint. fuck off and harvest mung beans.

and if noone pays to see you do your thing – why should i donate my taxes to you ?

art and commerce always go hand in hand.

art and state patronage belongs to east germany etc.

Absent Diane1:51 pm 20 Sep 05

Good call Konrad_Lenz – I don’t blame you for getting out…

Absent Diane1:43 pm 20 Sep 05

Honestly I would rather my tax money go to assisting struggling artists (like myself – not that I am struggling financially just in relevance to time or lack-there-of) in having a crack…it seems only fair – the public service pays the way for so many useless pricks – and really why should they get a thing – it promotes a lesser gene pool – where as muso’s and artists turn communication into art…. which is the most amazing thing I can think of other than our existence itself

Bonfire, you’re a dimwitted idiot. Before I go any further I’ll state the following – I don’t try and get grants, I’ve always felt uncomfortable about the idea of being funded by the government, mainly because I like the idea of being completely independant of any outside concerns for what that’s worth, so what I’m saying here is not out of self interest – but really, Ken Done is one of the most financially successful artists in the country, if you place your understanding of quality strictly in terms of sales then he’s a great artist, the fact that what he produces is bland shit doesn’t matter… & Kylie Minogue with her boring drone is one of our most brilliant musicians according to your logic, so start thinking about things Mr Bon and light the fire in your brain instead of lighting the droning dirge from out of your own arse… (by the way, have you ever heard of Vincent Van Gogh, he was never able to support himself as an artist)PS. The anorexic junkie you use as an example would be one of the least likely candidates to recieve an arts grant anyway Mr Fire.
The arts has never been an easy area to find financial remuneration and Australia isn’t exactly the easiest country for artists to live in. Out of hundreds of writers, musicians, actors, and painters, photographers, I’ve only known about five or six who’ve made a living out of the damn business & they’d be the last to claim that its strickly because of their talent. So if some artists rely on funding to get their work done, that’s fine by me…
As far as funding for venues as opposed to artists goes, what Brian suggested wasn’t an either/or, it was an as well as, and the idea that maybe musos AND venues should be recieving funding makes a lot of sense. As a musician in this town I’m tired of seeing quality local venues closing down. I’m not hanging around Canberra much longer, partly for this reason… Other cities in this country have a lot more to offer…
By the way, why does everyone who writes here do so pretty much anonymously under impenetrable psuedonyms? Adios – Konrad Lenz (the ego maniac king of the droning dirge ha ha ha).

i think the point here is – why should ‘artists’ suckle off someone elses teat. why not earn their own wage ? if they arent good enough to earn a quid – maybe they should become public servants instead of assaulting us with droning dirges.

seriously, remember that anorexic junkie that used to hang out near the civic merry go round droning on at all hours absolutely destroying any song she attempted ? oh yeah, give her 30k a year, shes an artist.

Absent Diane11:16 am 20 Sep 05

No worries – cut the grants -but put all artists / musos on a public servants wage… at least society will get something meaningful out of it instead of just just paying a bunch of whiney fat useless overpaid cunts, that have meetings to decide the date of further meetings – as it is now

i second the motion.

less grants. no grants at all.

let artists learn to live away from the government teat. wean them into reality.

putting legislation in place that would make live venues less prone to vexatious whinging would be a bigger help.

Both good points JB and AD. At the end of the day, if there’s too much bullshit to deal with, a lot of venue operators aren’t going to (continue to) bother. Cheaper and easier licencing sounds like a great idea, and shouldn’t really be too hard to implement provided that’s something the local Govt can take care of.

Absent Diane6:10 pm 17 Sep 05

don’t agree 100%…because just like bands – venues can be prone to failure as well…… what the city really needs is better support for venues…protecting them against noise level complaints…. in saying that I can’t really think of any canberra bands that have utilised the grant and really made something of themselves

balloons tell no tales, seem adequate on existing funding, and are mostly from out of town.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart2:45 pm 17 Sep 05

I’d rather see them fund the Balloon Fiesta first…

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