Thursday 25 March 2010

Arts funding

From The Aus today:

HAVE you heard the one about the nation's biggest annual cultural festival?

It receives one-fifth the state funding of the Melbourne International Arts Festival yet generates four times the box office.

MICF boasts 370 different comedy shows this year and at the ripe age of 24 has become part of Melbourne's establishment, except you wouldn't know as much from its funding. The month-long festival is on track to eclipse its record 424,000 tickets sold and box office of $10.5 million last year, but this year, as usual, got less than $1m funding from the state government and city.

In contrast, the 2009 Melbourne International Arts Festival received $5.8m from the state government and generated box office receipts of $2.6m.
If the Comedy Festival is that good, why does it need any funding from the taxpayer at all? Surely after 24 years it should have reached the point where it no longer needs to suckle at the taxpayer's tit?

The taxpayer gives the festival $1m and the festival-goers give it $10.5m - either they can increase ticket prices by 10%, or they can cut their costs by 10%. Or they can try a bit of both.

I love their rationale though for requesting more funding. Essentially their argument is, "The Arts Festival is a complete basketcase, and it is showered with cash. Because we are less of a basketcase, we should get more".

My answer - both should get by under their own steam. The comedy festival is close enough to break even to do that; the Arts festival can shutdown. Good riddance to bad art.

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