Dear Miss April,
I’ve been reading your column. It seems you are quite knowledgable when it comes to the arts and aesthetic issues.
We all hear that the arts industry is unregulated. Its a well publicized and expolited fact. We know that in opposition the goverment is leaden ,bureaucratic and unresponsive. Its a well publicized and expolited fact. What happens when these areas overlap, say with the Australian Council?
We have all seen the self interest, nepotism, shallow thinking and ego pyrotechnics at work, but happens when you get the arts industries heightened pitch overlaid on this gravelly platform provided by the goverment? Well, sometimes its self interest, nepotism, shallow thinking and ego pyrotechnics. It doesnt make for a sure footing.
The grant system seems to help in a direct individual way and the artists/ creaters/ creatives sometimes get some money too, but this cash injection is the most impotent of the boards traits. Perhaps if there were broader impacts than turning up at private openings and previews at the opera house for the bereaucrats. What about lobbying for a better tax position for artists? Imprisonment for lazy curators? Ensuring the funding goes to the artist not their dealers who write the applications? Why hell, even making their web site user friendly? Beneficial longterm outcomes!!
Do you think its time they put down the Chardonnay in Sydney and had a good look at what theyre offering the arts community and the tax paying public?
Taken for Granted
Dear Taken for Granted
Stop, please, don’t! You’re making me blush! It is true that art woes seem to have predominated this advice column, but I believe that may be less about my own knowledge and more about the mindset of our local community. Lucky to have such woes!
Oh, wouldn’t it be a blessed thing to have arts funding policy decided by an Agony Aunt column, the power is making me swoon! It is interesting to note though, that yours is not the only frustrated voice (like him, him , him & her) regarding our nation’s major arts grant body. Why, I do believe our federal fund is currently under review – ‘transparency please!’ – is the cry upon the winds. I ask you though, what is it that you really want from Miss April? Much of what you say are statements, opinions, questions which demand a nodding and smiling agreement.
I’ll tell you this. Clogging up our prison system with yellow-bellied curators would probably exhaust our arts funding, not relieve it! We’ll have another grant category just to cover it – legal defence funds for dull curators. It is sad that we have a national tradition of ‘I’ll have what he’s having’ when it comes to acquisitions, grants, curatorial inclusions, publicity, etc, etc. All a rather big yawn isn’t it?
I agree, a user-friendly website would be helpful. I mean have you seen this clip? I agree, the system has led to accusations of nepotism! I agree, seeing the same commercial gallery being awarded tens of thousands of dollars year-in and year-out, despite them being the most successful and fiscally liquid business in the industry is rather eyebrow raising. I agree with many of your points. And that is all I can do for you here. Or is it?
Dear Ms/Mr Granted, may I call you Taken? I infer from your moniker you see yourself as a victim of said system? An artist yourself perhaps, a musician, actor, dancer, painter, writer? The frustration at the inequity of the system feels worse because you see yourself at the short end of the stick? Then I would like to impart some advice to you before I sign off here today. Put it behind you. If you spend your energy rallying against the system, not only will you go mad, you will be spending precious time and energy away from your craft. I can imagine it is frustrating that grants are awarded to others under perceived dubious methods, but fear not, because the artist does have the last laugh. Do you know the secret of becoming an artist, truly? The secret is: just do it. Don’t wait for grants, don’t waste your time thinking about policies, don’t waste your time stewing on the system, concentrate on your work.
Not to say that you should not submit your grant requests, continue to do so if you so wish. You’ve got to be in it to win it! Here is a case study where an artist is talking about their approach to writing grant applications. There is some good advice there. However, it also emphasises the need for the artist to be adroit at influential writing skills, not a skill all have, which puts them at an immediate disadvantage. So my advice for you here would be to draw upon your friends and family, if you know someone who can help you prepare – ask them. The video also inadvertently points out a bittersweet element of the grants system – multiple successes for the same artists & organisations, means no success for others. If you want to get involved, why don’t you register as a Peer? If you want to critique or suggest improvements – write, email, call them. Contact the board members. Also, you could contact the Department directly in Canberra. Make yourself KNOWN.
To be honest with you Taken, there could be vast improvements, they could inject some fresh blood and new ideas, and transparent assessment processes; and perhaps I could spend my years pondering such matters, perhaps you could too. But I would rather get back to my typewriter, and you should get back to work.
Thank you most sincerely for entrusting me with your worries,
Yours, Miss April