In HTML programming, the “/” symbol between the “<” and “>” symbols denotes the end or closure of that topic or division. When we speak about arts, the topic of funding is often sensitive and disputed. The present-day reflects an evident </art funding>.
The recent ‘Black Friday’, a dark day for Australian artists as the Australia Council released its bleak budgeting figures and yet again, cuts for art funding, is still rippling throughout the arts community. More often than not, art has always been on federal agendas for sustainability and political takes on its role in cultural production. The modus operandi for many artists was grant and funding applications. The cuts occurred over the past three years and the latest reveals an all-time low in artistic morale. 62 arts organisations were part of the budget onslaught, leaving many with crucial operational concerns on the balance sheet.
Criticism has been on the top of the lists of angst-informed individuals. Some take the form of protests while others, strategically well-crafted writings. The National Association of Visual Arts (NAVA) is one of the casualties in this year’s chopping board. They have been supporting visual and media arts through varied services and programs. NAVA is gathering support from artists to call for the reversal of the cuts through writing and petitions.
The move towards sustainability has been every creative practitioner’s dream, and every politician’s nightmare. We do see some incredible artists making a comfortable living out of the crafts that they create through innovative marketing and entrepreneurship. However, the majority of artists still require support from the state and alternative funding bodies. NAVA is encouraging its members on a free subscription to upgrade their membership to NAVA Premium or Premium Plus accounts. Shifting the support for the arts from the state to the private corporations works towards its sustainability. When Winston Churchill was asked to cut arts funding in favour of war efforts, he replied, “then what are we fighting for?” Art is, and has to be embraced as a part of life for one to find value in paying for it.
As artists, we create because we cannot let our crazy and sometimes eccentric inspirations remain as ideas. A certain calling and conviction prompts us to do it. Creativity will not stop manifesting when federal funding plunges. While every cycle of economics takes between five to 10 years, the wait towards the dim light at the end of the tunnel will be filled with new (maybe hidden) movements of art practices. They may take less exhibitionary forms, more innovative approaches to art business models and self-led initiatives that navigate in non-art industries.
It has never been a fairytale environment for artists to thrive. What can artists (try to) do in yet another statewide funding setback?
- Find a way to bring art outside the art world
- Make smaller (and more affordable) works
- Develop their patronage (starting with friends and families)
- Innovate artistic methodologies to thrive in corporate and media-savvy businesses
- Use their practices as instruments of solution towards political and social issues
- Move towards a social practice (not ditching the studio practice totally!)
Daryl Goh is an award-winning art consultant, artist and educator based in Singapore and Melbourne. Daryl's work has been extended across the globe to prestigious venues including the Carrousel Du Louvre at Paris' Louvre Palace, Sale del Bramante in Italy and Melbourne's premiere light festival, White Night Melbourne. He is a frequent guest lecturer and is the founding director of NPE Art Residency.