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Razer: Turnbull's arts credentials go down the toilet

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Prior to yesterday’s release of the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO), Malcolm Turnbull looked set to become the greatest arts PM since Whitlam. Post MYEFO, the PM seems a sure bet for the title of greatest adversary to the Australian arts since Ern Malley. Shit, maybe since the band Bachelor Girl. $46 million of cuts to arts have been announced and these follow the slash bonanza started at $100 million in the 2014 Abbott budget.
Before we address the cuts and their devastation to the future, let’s fondly remember Turnbull’s artsy past.
If we don’t count his sumptuous elocution and a daring taste in ties, Turnbull has offered shrewd Australians a single cause for joy: his ardour for the arts. In 2008, his was the sole parliamentary voice heard to protest those unlawful and unwise moves to censor Bill Henson’s exhibition. Then shadow treasurer, Turnbull said of the moralising raids, “I think we have a culture of great artistic freedom in this country and I don’t believe the vice-squad’s role is to go into art galleries.”
His stand was courageous and principled. Then, half the nation, including the prime minister, was afflicted with the Lovejoy virus and to claim, as Turnbull more or less did, that to truly “think of the children” was to protect their future liberty was dazzling. Defending naked kiddies is no political picnic, but he did it and emerged a true liberal and advocate for the arts.
Then, this year, Turnbull put an end to Brandis’ snooty slush fund, restored a chunk of funding to the Australia Council and softened, just a little, on protecting the profits of content distributors — often a good sign for the actual producers of creative works. An aesthete, a defender of free speech and, so his passionate and costed support for “innovation”, would have us believe, a politician committed to creative risk, Turnbull seemed on the side of the artist.
No such luck. With yesterday’s raft of deluded, targeted austerity measures, the future looks as bleak for as long as a Centrelink queue in Adelaide. Mal might have a few Hensons proudly hung on the walls at home, but in the corridors of power, his policy is one of concealment.
Look. I don’t want to be that wanker who sobs for the end of high culture. If you ask me, our “select” festivals are too unselectively full of bad art from Portland. But, while there may be some minor wear to the fabric of tedious privilege, the real damage done will be to everyday networks. The working artist and the average punter will be struck by these further cuts.
For all the Abbott government’s practical grandstanding about the “people”, the people were those afflicted by the first range of measures. $37 million was taken from national cultural institutions and $25 million from Screen Australia in the 2014 budget. The $105 million cut to the Australia Council was sold by Brandis as a no-nonsense end to feminist burlesque in Northcote. But this, like the other “savings”, impacted the foundations of a sector that some of the “people” work in and that nearly all of the people consume.
It’s not just that Tits McVixen will fail to find funding for her rhinestone vulva installation next Fringe. It’s that a generation of Australian artists and art workers will not have the means to develop their skills, and we won’t, of course, have much to consume.
There is much talk about the “ecosystem” of the sector and while this might be read or exploited by many as the fragile, self-absorbed ravings of artsy ninnies, it’s bloody true. I mean, we can have Malcolm sit his first great policy test on the topic of startup innovation and every “agile” businessperson will applaud. Much of Australia agrees that it’s vital to reproduce Silicon Valley conditions with government spending. “Businesses will be given the freedom to fail” Malcolm said, just last week. Artists don’t even have the freedom to try.
What was urgently needed, particularly in view of very recent cuts, was not yesterday’s further penalty to Screen Australia of $10.3 million. More than $36 million will be lifted from an as yet unspecified range of “cultural and collecting entities” and the only warming news is that another Brandis vanity, the Book Council of Australia, will be axed.
In all areas of revenue spending, efficiency should be enhanced and possibilities for favouritism quashed. So, this is not to recklessly suggest that all budget measures to the arts are bad — although, the hits to Screen Australia do seem particularly near-sighted.
But it is to suggest that these cuts are themselves recklessly political.
You don’t need to be a macroeconomist to know that the figure of $46 million is small change. Its impact on the deficit won’t mean a rounding error. And even leaving aside the arguments that professors of economics, and actual economies themselves, routinely make about the folly of austerity as a route to surplus, we can all probably agree that you need to spend money to make money.  Fewer jobs in a sector which depends on on-the-job training means fewer future jobs. If we can take calculated risk for every half-arsed cut-and-paste Uber pitch and call it good sense, we must, at the very least, be able to do the same for arts.
But, what has been done, in a short era of devastation, is even more damage to the ecosystem. FFS.
It’s all very well and good to make a case, as Malcolm has, for the rights of the artist, but this doesn’t mean much when the tools of the artist are set beyond reach. To paraphrase Anatole France, the law, in its majestic equality, allows both rich and poor to piss on a canvas. But now, the only people oxidising will be those few already replete with champagne.

44 responses to “Razer: Turnbull's arts credentials go down the toilet

  1. Helen,
    the only problem with your alignment of Arts with the Start up sector is that none of the works requiring “on-the-job training” have any chance of commercial success. I’m sure you will find non-monetary measures to gauge quality of a piece, but this article was about fiscal issues not the intangible value of Art.
    And “devastation of future”, really?

    1. And, I’d say the startup analogy compares well. With a 95% failure rate, the “innovation” industry we will shortly fund screws up more reliably and at more cost, to both private and public coffers, than arts projects. Let’s not even talk about criticism that comes from venture capital peak body that says this emphasis on startup and not late expansion is deluded misspending.
      I have no wish to offer a farty argument for the value of art because (a) I reasonably suppose anyone who visits an arts publication has already made that argument to themselves and (b) to say that arts is a financially meaningless sector is just balderdash. And, did I mention, this is an arts publication? Where we talk about the business of the arts?

      1. With respect, no mime troop, modern sculptor or video artist will ever create the next AirBNB. That 5% of profitable start-ups is the reason for the concept of start-ups. If you knew going in that 0% will be financially successful then it makes it a tough argument to view the arts in that way.
        Dare I say some ABC funding could be used/transferred into this space.

        1. With “respect”, this is not an argument about those art forms you and I both currently view as poor. But, mate. To say that such enterprise represents all, or even the majority, of a sector is nonsense. What’s your point? That because there was a handful of (tax evading) innovation successes, there cannot be a single successful artist.
          If we are to take your logic and apply it to the arts, should we not continue to fund film so that a highly profitable film like The Matrix franchise, produced by an Australian (who actually, unlike Uber, pays tax) in Australia could be made.
          What’s your point? Some art is bad? Sure. So is some business. For every appalling mime, there are ten doomed-to-fail startups who are no more credible just because you, and they, believe that a “rate your friends” app might be the next airbrb. FFS. I already made all the funny jokes about shit art.

          1. It’s sweet of you to clog up the conversation with unoriginal cliches and obtuseness , but you gotta know not everybody’s idea of a great night out is spending 400 bucks to go and see Wagner.

          2. I don’t understand what you mean, Dames. Who is recommending Wagner. I want another Neo and not a Ring Cycle.

        2. “With respect, no mime troop, modern sculptor or video artist will ever create the next AirBNB”
          Two graphic designers as it turns out. You probably should have checked.

          1. Quite. And, the notion that arts does not generate money rests on ignoring the fact of one’s local cinema.

  2. Turnbull can dress well, articulate well but remains a philistine who thinks a framed $100 note or a Rolex is an artwork. A country that doesn’t support the arts is not for innovation. If he was a cultured man he would have appointed a Minister for Culture. What is so exciting in the Australia that he sees and promises without art and culture?

  3. AXIOM 1: The commercial prosperity of a people depends on the vitality of that people’s culture.
    AXIOM 2: A nation cannot have any future stability unless its national spirit is expressed in Art.
    Expressed by Norman Lindsay in his essay “Commerce and Culture”

  4. Government funding the Arts – one has to ask a number questions: What is the role of govt.? How should the funding be allocated? Who does the funding serve?
    What is the role of govt? Should it fund the arts at all? Is it the job of govt. to provide bread and circuses for the masses? When we still have homeless people and under-funded medical services can we justify spending any currency on the arts at all? Should govt. fund the arts as a form of education? If it is justified as education, then should education get the funds to spend on their art classes instead?
    How should the funding be allocated? By what standard do you allocate a percentage of taxation to Arts? Is a community play worth more than a new dialysis machine in a clinic? Who in the arts community should get the funds? Should it be the the canon of national cultural institutions or the individual artists. What is fair? When a country town residents pays equal tax but the most of money goes to institutions in the city is that a form of prejudice? Should taxes be used to subsidise the transport cost of those wishing to travel to the city to view their state gallery? Should the tax go towards the purchasing/funding established work as a part of Australian cultural history or should it go to helping the struggling individual ’emerging’ artist?
    Who does the funding serve? If you spend your time fishing in the outback – does being taxed for the arts serve you well? If you are a social justice warrior and want to highlight the discrimination towards people in the trans gender community does the arts funding serve you? Perhaps? Or maybe you are just preaching to the choir? Should the money instead go towards legal services to help those who have been victimised?
    If as an individual artist you give the state $100 in tax that goes to the arts and only receive back $20 is that fair? By what right does a select few have the right to discriminate as to who receives the funds?
    Does funding serve the state? At one extreme a totalitarian state will use it as blatant propaganda. But even a democratic state needs a velvet glove – it gives the people on one hand ‘bread and circuses’ and on the other acts as self proclaimed moral agent so that its citizens can pat themselves on the back for their self-righteous rhetoric.
    Does funding the arts serve to set an arts agenda? If you doll out the funds who do you give it to? If the application give some social justice reason, environmental reason, historical commemoration etc. then this will give justification to funding it. But does this not narrow the definition and role of the arts to social concerns setting them up into a state sanctioned canon to the detriment of other art? Does putting the power for art funding into the hands of a small group of people leave prone to personal bias? Does arts funding by its nature of being given through the political realm make that it is self-censored in order to create a palatable public art (and ensure those in public arts job security).
    Historically, the innovative artist have not been accepted by the mainstream and are often antagonistic to the status quo and establishment.
    Does funding the arts neuter it power and effectiveness? Poet Laurence Ferlinghetti believes so.
    Do governments fund the arts as a form of ‘controlled opposition’?
    With very successful private galleries such as MONA in Hobart do we need public funded arts venues?
    Does the govt. have the right to say how we should be entertained and cultured?
    Taking money off people to fund an opera house does not serve the graf lover who would rather have his money (tax) back in order to catch a train to see the lane ways in Melbourne.
    Does taking money off people (tax) reduce the amount of money the have to spend on arts that they would prefer more to that of the state sanctioned arts? Does selected funding to certain arts venues turn people away from other worthy artists as they now have less money and the ‘free’ or subsidised state sanctioned art draw them away?
    There is not moral reason for govt. to fund the arts.
    Govt. funding is biased, self-censoring, discriminatory, has no basis for fairness and equity of access and can serve as propaganda. It creates a incestuous clique of art insiders who establish a canon of artists to be lauded rather than letting to public decide themselves.
    As an artist, I say abolish all arts funding and let the artists and art lovers have their tax back to spend on what they wish.
    As an artist I would rather have my tax dollars to spend on my art rather than beg for funding by writing a rhetorical wanky application to some govt. arts parasite.

    1. Most business sectors receive assistance. Notably, the mining industry. To say that arts should receive no aid, while extraction bosses receive billions in fuel rebates, seems to rest on this idea of arts as extraneous and all other commodities, including those virtual ones of the “innovation” sector, as somehow more real or necessary.
      Why? If someone’s goona buy it and the industry creates jobs, what’s the prob? Why should funding to arts be discussed alongside funding to public housing and not, as it should more properly be, as funding to business?

      1. “Most business sectors receive assistance.” – yes, the system is insane. Take currency off everybody, churn some off and then give some back. We should just cut out the middleman!
        “Why should funding to arts be discussed alongside funding to public housing and not”.
        Well, can we consider Maslow’s hierarchy of needs?;
        1. Biological and Physiological needs – air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep, etc.
        2. Safety needs
        3. Belongingness and Love needs
        4. Esteem needs
        5. Self-Actualization needs – it may be expressed in paintings, pictures, or inventions.
        Is it permissible for the state to aim to satisfy level 5 ‘Self-Actualization’ needs when level one is wanting?
        A starving homeless citizen will not be interested in visiting a gallery to see a new Bill Henson photo – they would be more likely to be dumpster diving in the bin out front.
        Do we just step over the bum lying in the street on our way to the Opera House congratulating ourselves on how we stopped funding cuts to the Arts?
        If I could allocate where my tax dollars went I would certainly re-allocate it from going to the arts (but not before military spending, or if you prefer, the mining industry) if it meant the most vulnerable in our society were taken care of!
        But, the question remains. What is the goal of government. Should it just randomly distribute funds across all areas? The problem also occurs that once a govt. funds some area then it becomes expected by those who receive the funds. It is easy to give but harder to roll back- regardless of whether it is effective or sustainable.

        1. Eleu, I don’t think this means art, a business, shouldn’t be considered in the way other businesses are. Whether the commodity you are producing is a blockbuster film, dirty energy or a social media experience, it’s just more business. Maslow proves nothing, here.
          The Austrian School of economics refers to an influential group of fin de siècle Viennese thinkers whose ideas produced much of our current bad thinking. Watch some of the Blyth videos on YouTube. He’s a really good educator and his book helped my get my non-economist head ’round some macro concepts.
          I understand you are recommending an entirely new system for income distribution but this is an article about funding within current pre-revolutionary. parameters. My contention is that it will be damaging to strip money from the arts sector. And, not meaningful to the deficit at all. Try to argue with that instead of saying, as many are tempted to, that “arts is airy fairy when compared with housing”.
          Let’s talk about arts as a business sector, shall we?

          1. I agree the cuts arein the scheme of things petty and will create real problems for the museums and galleries around the lake, they are the ones facing a cut of more than $30 million over the next four years.

          2. Hi Helen,
            “Maslow proves nothing, here.” – sure. What I wanted to get to the hear of though is- What is the goal of government?
            “but this is an article about funding”
            So, one should not discuss the morality of funding (of the Arts or anything else)? One could ask how much money should the WWII Japanese govt. should cut back on spending for comfort women. It could be argued that sex is a Maslow 1. Biological need.
            By what standards should govt fund the Arts or anything else? If we had an answer we could then maybe figure out how much money to distribute. ?
            Considering that our economic system is neo-keysian, I do not see how the Austrian school can be allocated any blame for the state of the world! We have central banks fueling bubbles, inflating the money supply and distributing money to the rich. The Austrian school (Hayek, Mises et. al.) warns against all this!
            It is the current Austrian economists who understand the boom/bust cycle of Keynsian economics and predicted the last (and soon to come next) crash.
            I am not arguing for an “entirely new system for income distribution”. I do not think I have the right to force my neighbours to pay for a community play or the local homeless even if I wanted them to. If I do not have the right to do so, then I cannot allocate that right to somebody else (govt.) to do so either.
            “Let’s talk about arts as a business sector” – can we? If the state becomes the arbitrator of taste and culture can we even call it a ‘business’? How about we take the training wheels off and see what happens? I prefer my culture to be organic, from the street, from individuals who struggle and overcome challenges, from groups voluntarily coming together to create their own independent spaces.

          3. In that case, it’s a business sector that is growing slowly and performing poorly, with only $4.2 billion in revenue compared to over $472 billion in the banking sector, $121 billion in the mining sector (as much as I hate it) and $500 billion in the tech sector.

      2. Helen
        One of the big reasons for the current budget problem is that the export prices paid for iron ore and other minerals have tanked I,ev the profits of the big miners have dropped a lot which equals a big drop in taxes paid by the big miners. (At current prices many are selling at a loss or break even.)
        And those taxes are a huge part of long term total australian government revenues.
        Yes the big miners get deductions etc, but the net taxes, royalty payments paid by them are a very major part of long term total government revenues.
        The arts particularly the funded component, are not a net revenue source to government, never will be. Nothing wrong with that.
        The arts are not a ‘industry’ , true industries pay more long term net tax than what they get from government.
        Result is a advocy problem:
        ‘arts industry ‘arguments are to bjust about any economist, or experienced government advisor, clearly obviously ‘perpetual motion machines’ pure BS.
        But on the other hand for many in the more contemporary arts sector, older traditional arguments that the arts are , spiritually uplifting and help grow our inner lives and are intrinsically worth it are : elitist, excellence ,heritage positions that are unacceptable restrictions of ‘what’ the arts, can be.

        1. Commodity prices tanked because miners in Australia vastly increased exports in recent years (and still increasing) and flooded the market.

          1. Jock a lot of new mines in places outside Australia , also started up just as demand in China peaked and started to drop.
            Hardly matter in terms of our budget, revenues from mining are not what they were and are unlikely to be better for many years.

  5. Sadly, Rudd was reckless and the debt incurred along with a revenue downturn means a $37m per day cost in interest alone. I think that is the current figure. Wasted money. Ultimately the best thing for arts, the environment and society at large is a good economy and sensible financial policies. Every group in society will think they deserve special recognition and justify that within their own framework of thinking. That’s human and understandable. Somewhat ironically it’s also the same logic route taken by those who evade paying their share of tax. Rhetorical question, but when will people understand that we have to earn more as a society and not constantly ask for handouts?

    1. No. You’re wrong. I encourage you to examine this matter beyond Hockey’s three word slogans.
      Australia’s deficit was slim beside comparable nations in the wake of the GFC because of Swan’s stimulus. “Spend in a bust, save in a boom” works well in the state, which is why Swanny won the gong from the conservative Europe Money Magazine for his action.
      I recommend the book Austerity:History of a Bad Idea or sitting in on a few lectures in any undergraduate course of economics that teaches outside the now largely discredited ideas of the Chicago and Austrian schools.
      State economies are not in any way comparable to household economies where we are better to, and more able to, save in the tough times. My income and my expenditure are independent. Which is to say, I can take the money I earned from writing this piece and elect to spend none of it on chocolate.
      I can tighten my belt with the only result being that I cry for chocolate. Everything else in my economic world is hunky dory.
      If a government is facing economic downturn, they must act knowing that income and expenditure are interdependent. In contrast to my economic life. So, if the response to soft commodity prices and resulting lay offs is to tighten the belt by reducing unemployment benefits or other forms of assistance, consumer spending slows, compounding the problem an economist such as Hockey might have sought to avoid. Austerity compounds problems. Greece. Ireland. Portugal. It is especially negative if it hits low and middle income earners. I.e. most of us. Of course, we don’t talk about austerity in, say, the extraction industry that enjoys billions in annual subsidy. Which is odd, because such austerity is likely to have less of a wide ranging impact.
      I’m assuming that you are against this kind of austerity in your critique of Swan, now coming to be known as a sober and competent treasurer, but opposed to the super profits tax. Because big companies shouldn’t pay much but should receive much of what we earn, right?
      Have a look at the profligate porky spending of Howard Costello, btw.
      Spending is not what causes a deficit. It’s not that simple.

      1. Austerity:History of a Bad (Dangerous?)Idea (Mark Blyth?) Reading the blurb it seems the author correctly identifies a lot of problems like bailing out banks. I could not discover how he debunks Austrian economics however. ? I would be interested to hear this.
        State economies are not in any way comparable to household economies? How do they transcend the laws of economics? Your example does not make sense to me.
        I understand your point about austerity – (it is really a war on the people) – and consumer spending slows. Swan’s stimulus. “Spend in a bust” can have a short term effect of ‘pump priming’ the economy. But economics is a closed circuit – Isaac Newton — ‘and to every action there is always an equal and opposite or contrary, reaction’
        So the economy is slowing – what can a govt. do? It can cut interest rates so that the rate of borrowing is cheap – businesses borrow and inject capital into the economy – fail! Big biz is only borrowing to buy its own stock to make it self look good.
        It can give money to the banking system so that it trickles down – fail! Banks are not lending it to productive biz.
        They can give it directly to the people to spend ala Swan.
        But where does the govt. get the money to spend? It can borrow it, which some argue takes away capital that could be used by the private sector to stimulate the economy.
        It can borrow it into existence with the associated interest or print it up. Either way creates inflation – it taxes us into the future to pay for stuff in the now.
        But why are the banks not lending the money out? If the Fed or whoever gives them free money then why risk lending it? But the other reason is confidence! If you have no confidence in the economy you do not lend or spend.
        If the current treasurer did a Swan stimulus but the people too had no confidence in the economy and do not spend the stimulus then the govt. goes deeper into debt and we have a recession anyway.
        The govt. could spend the money itself by building infrastructure or even fund the arts as they did post great depression in the USA. There are some concerns here like the misallocation of resources (think vacant cities in China), it is usually inefficient, fraud happens and it can be inequitable – why give artists money and not athletes? Lastly, it can be directed to useless and unwanted Keynesian activity. i.e digging a hole and then filling it back in. This produces no value. Economics should be about creation and exchange of value.

        1. Our banks and our finance sector in general raise the money , in the global market, mostly the Bond market. The money is not free , it comes with interest repayments attached. We are way to small to generate enough capital to finance most of our investments in our country.
          You do touch apon a real long term problem, our banks prefer to lend to things like negatively geared property than to taxpaying going concerns for expansion , too risky.

          1. “You do touch apun a real long term problem, our banks prefer to lend to things like negatively geared property” – yes, indeed, but I did touch on that with “Banks are not lending it to productive biz.” There is no money for wealth building – only for the pumping of bubbles.

      2. Helen a short history,
        Howard, in the end spent too much, he tried to buy one more term of government. Then Rudd in the 2007 election campaign matched and raised ,Howard’s offers to the electorate. Then the GFC happened so the stimulus package (which was needed and was broadly in line with treasury advice) spent even more. Then in the years after 2010 the truly needed pulling back of those spends was not done. Instead the can was kicked ‘four years down the road ‘ for budget after budget.
        The hope was, still is ,that eventually our national growth rate would return to something like 4% or more, and that would solve the problem.
        Unfortunately more and more promises of additional future spending increases were also made, and finally then the boom in sales of minerals to China ended.
        Nobody comes out of this story looking that good.

        1. Rudd’s primary lead was largely due not to pork but to a promise to end WorkChoices which had begun to pinch young voters in particular.

          1. True, he did not need to match and raise Howard’s offer, but he did that anyway. BTW Tresury advice to Rudd was just stimulate, just hand out money quickly do not try to do anything else. It was Rudds idea to also use the stimulus program to put insulation in the ceiling.
            It was also Rudds decision to not do a winding back of spending in 2009-10, mores the pity it would have been much easier then.

          2. Forgot to mention that the spending that howard and Rudd did that matters in this context was permanent tax cuts, effectively lost revenue for ever.

      3. Helen
        True our debt is small, compared to many others, however it is growing at a worrying rate, most others are slowly shrinking.
        The problem is that our rate of, increase in spending is much higher than the rate of increase in our revenues, and there is no sign of that reversing anytime soon.
        Because so much of our total national income ultimately comes down to commodity prices, set by the global market there are real limits to raising more revenues through tax increases etc.

  6. I have a Tits McVixen abstract painting of Rex Connor on his feet in the House defending his role in the Loans Affair, signed by Tirath Khemlani. I hope it’s still worth something, I am trying to get the money together for a ticket on the 324 from Elizabeth Street to Point Piper, so I can see how the other 0.0001 live. And Kraig Clauber, its a valiant attempt at rewriting history but Rudd had the worst economic crash to deal with. Interestingly when Fraser came to power in 1975 the Liberals also promoted the myth that the economic situation in Australia was nothing to do with the international situation but all a domestic problem of Labor’s creation. Just as Schlockey did when he became Treasurer. So it was most amusing to see Morrison dribbling on about the international situation affecting his parlous budget figures. Lying through your teeth is much easier when you convince yourself that you are born to rule. Sadly for Morrison his pathetic attacks on the poor and most vulnerable to protect his rich mates from paying their fair share won’t stand the test of time. If that’s all he can come up with after a few months limbering up, Miracle Mal will be on to Arty about a Plan B.

  7. We all have to stop separating the arts out. We’re playing into the hands of these fascists. That makes the arts too easy to attack. In fact scientists, engineers, start up business types can’t make a move without the arts. How can they craft a sentence to write up their experiments? Art! How can they draw the design of their new bridge? Art! How can they put a logo on their crappy app? Art! This font you’re reading right now? Art!

    1. Yes! (Although I can attest that the provision of technical and promotional writing feels like torture, even if it is art.)

    2. Hi Stuart and Helen,
      Stuart, as a scientist of close to 40 years I take exception to saying that I could not write a paper or a research proposal without the arts. That’s nonsense. Helen, I think you missed my point. Rudd did waste money, as other governments had including Howard’s. The point is that debt is only of value if it creates long term wealth. For government that usually means infrastructure which assists the economy to grow, but realistically the definition can be loose insofar as wealth can be measured by metrics other than money. The point I was making is whether it’s the arts sector, child care down the road, startups or farmers, we are all in the community and any financial pain should be shared. There are no sacred cows. We could argue to those cows come home about good debt and bad debt, but the bottom line is the debt needs to be controlled, and in my view reduced. One can make specious comments about households versus nations but the countries in most trouble have large debt burdens. That’s a simple observation. It’s also a simple statement that large debts start out small. Better to keep the debt as small as possible.

      1. Craig further to that, the focus is essentially on slowing the rate of growth of spending to below the rate of growth of revenues. Morisson is I think well aware that ‘slashing ‘ is counterproductive and politicaly impossible- the senate et al.
        It’s a case of long persistent careful graft and pruning .

  8. Art has no point, just like there’s no point to sex, unless your trying to manufacture a baby.
    What are the criteria for something having a point? Job creation? Saving lives? What sort of world would it be if only things that accountants decided had a “point” were funded?
    Ghastly I’d think. Art should be funded, just like other intangibles should be.

  9. Two points:
    1. I am also frustrated by the cuts to arts funding however I would argue that the term “favouritism” is unjust here. The tech industry makes a lot of money and employs a lot of people. The arts industry does not. Australian films, in particular, make very little at the box office (with the exception of a select few, including Mad Max: Fury Road). For an economy in deficit, doesn’t it make more sense to invest in industries with potential for growth?
    2. I have friends in the arts that make a living out of government grants. They are not artists, but administrators, and the quality of their work is questionable at best.
    I also have friends that are artists- genuine, talented artists. These people never receive a dollar in funding. Instead they work (on some level) and win art prizes. While the situation is not ideal, it never stops them from making art.
    I think a lot of arts funding is misappropriated through the greater arts community and never reaches the artists. As a taxpayer, I’m not too keen on that.

  10. Politicians on both sides understandably want results for their funding and that means economic results as much as anything. As a visual artist who attempts to work overseas it is plainly obvious NO ONE in positions of decision making has any idea how to develop Brand Australia overseas. Well not in the Visual Arts. Years of expensive exhibitions OS and other attempts including the Venice Biennial have done nought. To me this call to restore funding is naive. What Turbull is saying is get moving. BUT this is impossible because the only weekly waged people are the bureaucrats and they are mainly interested in the status quo and their jobs.
    If a new idea comes up it is usually smothered at birth by the same people in the same Government funded jobs. Its like a game of deckchairs on the Titanic. One Melb curator in almost two decades has gone from Gertrude St to Heidi to Monash to NGV to ACCA. I’m saying this person is bad or unskilled I just question how innovation can occur when its always the same small group in the same small art world.
    Turnbull wants innovation but the arts just want their pocket money back! Labor felt the same as Turnbull but just left funding unaltered. Nowhere in this gratuitous text by Razor is there any solution. I say start a National lottery for the Arts, Sciences and Heritage as they have in UK. Come on people start thinking creatively instead of as bureaucrats.

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