Sunday, 20 April 2008

Art spaces

So Cate Buckethead wants "space for artists" and creativity and all that sort of stuff? Ok, I am fine with that.

But fuck you if you expect me to pay for it.

Why does any artist need any sort of taxpayer funding to produce their art?

Or a subsidised "space" in which to create or show it?

Hell, 50,000 years ago, cavemen with great protruding foreheads and bad breath managed to create art on cave walls using nothing more than some mammoth wool, locally available paints (ochre and the like) and their bare hands.

Were the other cavemen taxed in order for this art to be produced? Did every hunter get taxed say a chop from a zebra in order for this artist to sit around painting? Did the women have to hand over an avocado each to pay for the cave?

I think not. I think someone with a bit of gumption simply got off their arse and did it.

So much for the visual arts. Some artists create sculptures by welding together bits of scrap metal that they found at the tip. Is that an expensive exercise? No. Why do we need to subsidise it? Especially when welding equipment is so cheap at Bunnings.

The performing arts don't need lavish spaces either. Travelling troupes of troubadours used to entertain the populace at market days by - shock horror - setting up in a field and doing their thing. You don't need an Opera House in order to stage a play. If I felt like it, I could stage a play outside our local supermarket in the little open area that they have for old wogs to sit around in and gossip. I could put on a show at the Orange Grove markets next to the playground. Heck, I could do what they did with the staging of "He died with a felafel in his hand" and do it at the pub with a bucket and some old chairs as props.

Art does not need to be expensive. It doesn not need hundreds of administrators and assistants and accountants and managers. It does not need grandiose halls and theatres and so on. Even films can be shown by stretching a sheet between two trees in the park and setting up a projector - and the audience can sit on blankets that they brought themselves.

I have no truck with people that want dumper loads of money tipped into the arts. You do not create succesful companies by coming up with an idea and then showering it with cash. Look at what venture capitalists do. Someone has an idea. They develop that idea (using their own money) to the point where they can write a proposal about it. They spruik it to VC's, who reject most ideas and provide some seed capital for a small, select few. That seed capital is used to further develop the idea - often on the cheap. People who do this sort of thing operate out of their garage. If the idea shows promise, a second tranche of funding is provided, allowing the operation to get bigger, or take the idea further. If goals are met, more funding is provided until you have a company that can actually sell something, and then it might turn into HP or Apple or Google.

Or it dies a quiet death, and the founders either find a new idea, or they go back to being engineers at IBM or wherever.

At no point do the VCs just shower money on all and sundry. Creative types are not given a "dole" to sit around and dream up new ideas. They work, they live, and they think up strange thoughts in their spare time. They fund those ideas with their own money, made by the sweat of their brow, or they convince their family and friends to invest in their idea. Their ideas have to show promise, and have some sort of track record before they get funding.

Fuck, even Aboriginals sitting around in the dust under a tree in the desert can produce great art using little more than some house paint, a few sticks and a sheet of bark. How fucking hard can it be? They manage to find a market for their products, and as yet, no government has felt the need (I hope) to move them into some sort of purpose built "arts space" - ie, a Philip Stark designed tin shed under a tree.

Rent seeking artists can go fuck themselves.

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