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Canberra Writers Festival
23-26 Aug 2018

Should live music venues get the arts grants?

By johnboy 17 September 2005 39

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?

What’s Your opinion?

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39 Responses to
Should live music venues get the arts grants?
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Konrad_Lenz 10:57 am 25 Sep 05

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…

Sam 11:40 pm 24 Sep 05

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 Diane 11:16 pm 24 Sep 05


Absent Diane 11:15 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….

Konrad_Lenz 4:07 pm 23 Sep 05

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

simto 4:33 pm 22 Sep 05

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.

Maelinar 4:09 pm 22 Sep 05

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.

simto 3:48 pm 22 Sep 05

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.

Maelinar 3:04 pm 22 Sep 05

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 Smith 2:48 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?

simto 1:26 pm 22 Sep 05

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?

Maelinar 12:53 pm 22 Sep 05

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.

Konrad_Lenz 12:35 pm 22 Sep 05


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

bonfire 3:15 pm 21 Sep 05


‘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.

Konrad_Lenz 1:47 pm 21 Sep 05

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 Diane 11:21 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..

Thumper 9:35 am 21 Sep 05

Ah… nope, that ain’t going to happen.

Absent Diane 9:34 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!!

lucky 7:55 pm 20 Sep 05

check out this website for a bit of a laugh:

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

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