I follow Marcus Westbury’s blog and so last week read his post Where Australia Council funding goes – 09/10 version with interest, especially given that I’m just about into the last quarter of my my ArtStart funding from The Australia Council.
Seeing the graph at the top of the post was a real eye opener – I had no idea what got spent where and was surprised to see that the classics get so much support. I’ve been to see an Opera Australia production in the last year or so (these things become much easier when you live in Melbourne rather than lil ole Perth) and thought that it was really well attended, so the idea that it was government funded never crossed my mind.
As always though, the devil (or God, if we’re going by the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe quote) is in the detail, which Westbury provides at the end of his post. Particularly pertinent to me – the Artstart Grant – does not figure in these calculations, nor do two other major sources of funds, Key Organisations and Arts Development (in total , these 3 add up to $22.4 million). But even still, (given that these other funded areas apply across arts and are not broken up into artform, I have to trust that Westbury’s attempt is even-handed) it’s very interesting reading for all those involved in the arts.
And the response seems to have been on-par with it’s interesting-ness. Richard Gill, (who even has a blog, albeit slightly aged) has responded with an article in The Age that calls Westbury’s original article a “serious attempt… to create an arts debate”, and then ends in a call for more money for everyone. (The dates seem to have the response before the original post, though last week I definitely read them the other way around.)
Well, that’s a great idea too, but with a federal parliament pretty much tied at 0-0 for the foreseeable future, it doesn’t seem a likely option at the moment. As for Gill’s article as a whole, it’s a pure opinion piece which really lacks the punch of the original post, and the weight of the post relies on those figures. On who gets what.
The debate that has continued on over at Wesbury’s blog is really interesting, as people weigh up arts jobs against one another. I don’t want to go into the ‘which arts are more worthy’ argument, but it has made it more evident to me that over at the Australia Council this must happen all of the time, at every single funding round.
I have flicked through the list of recipients of the ArtStart grants at each round, mostly to see if any of my friends have got through (and yes, quite a few of them have) and I always find it makes for some interesting reading. Now knowing that orchestras, classical music and opera gets so much of the pie, I might be paying more attention to the rest of the funding rounds too.