Tuesday, November 24, 2009

ArtStart Grants: what do they do with the artists after fertilising them?

I'm not sure what Australia does with all the artists after they've grown and fertilised them, but I thought I'd stick up this link to the new Australia Council 'ArtStart' grant (mainly because I like the logo):



The thing that worries me is that all these grants stress that the cash is not intended to cover the living costs of artists.  In other words, it looks like the government is supporting artists (particularly emerging, if you talk to any mid-career starving artist) through all these grants with fancy logos etc., but in actual fact they're not prepared to invest in creating full-time, or at least long term, meaningful jobs for those in the arts industry.  Talk to any fine arts graduate and they'll tell you how hard it is to get a job relevant to their field (that does not include managing the photo hub at Kmart).  I know that there are a ridiculously large number of people enrolling in art schools around the country, and not all can be expected to get a job in the arts, but it would be nice if I knew that more than one of my fellow BFA graduates now has a fulfilling arts-related job.

So how do you employ artists and fine arts graduates? Off the top of my head, I'd say that the easiest way would be to pour more money into museums and acquisitions, and thus provide more museum jobs. At the moment the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery does not have an acquisition budget for instance (Luckily for Tasmanian artists, the privately funded, soon-to-be-opened Museum of Old and New Art, is commissioning away...).  Fund arts festivals which have a significant visual arts component, encourage both the public and private sectors to fund public artworks, and recognise the worth of artists in terms of creating a diverse and rich national culture (think about it - are most great cultures remembered in terms of their sporting prowress or their arts?).

Just an idea....

8 comments:

andy wear said...

HI LUCY...ANDY WEAR HERE...NICE WORK WITH THE BLOG, STILL MAKING MY WAY THROUGH THE POSTS...THIS QUESTION CAUGHT MY ATTENTION THOUGH: AT WHAT STAGE DO YOU READ AN ARTIST STAETMENT OR DIDACTIC TEXT ACCOMPANYING AN ARTWORK?...I COULDN'T HELP BUT NOTICE "WHILE VIEWING" WASN'T AN OPTION. PEDANTIC, I KNOW, BUT...

sallyhasblog said...

Doesn't this grant use the same name that was being bandied about before the Labour Gov was voted in? I'm sure it was pegged for something akin to the Artists Dole that exists in Ireland and some other European countries? To be the equivalent of Newstart but recognising that the hours spent developing ones practice had the same value as applying for a job at Officeworks.

My expectations dropped when it was never mentioned again after the election but re-using the name is a dead giveaway that this gov. has no interst in making it happen. Kinda depressing really... It actually felt kind of forward thinking. But I guess what we need is forward-doing...

On topic, I may be in the singular, but I actually feel that an artist trying to gain employment in the arts (in another capacity) is somewhat tilting at windmills. Because the community is so sorely underesourced, you get paid poorly and are expected to do a great deal of extra work for nix.

I was lucky (or...?) that my first ever 'proper' job was in the arts and that I stayed employed in that sphere for a long time. But I was shocked when I left to discover I was payed better for schlepping coffee, washing dishes and a myriad of other opps. I've been offered weekend and evening and holiday rates! OMG! I can work less hours to get by and spend more time in the studio than ever before.

The primary downside of NOT working in the industry any more is that I am now totally out of touch with the community and have no idea what goes on - exhibitions, events etc. But when I was in the biz I heard this complaint many times and noone seemed to want to take responsibility for producing a central, functioning information dissemination point (or 'noticeboard'). Ah but this is another rant for another day....

Apols. for length...

Lucy said...

Andy, I really wish I could add an option of 'other' with comments on the polls, but unfortunately the poll function is pretty basic. I have a bit of a form filling in fetish, so polls are a must regardless of their functionality. I take your point about the during though. I must admit, I often dance back and fro between artwork and statement....

Sally, I know that a number of artists actually prefer to work in jobs that pay the bills but don't use up their precious creativity eg coffee, bar, movie theatre work. However, there are also a number of graduates who would like work in the field, regardless of the pay (lets face it, you don't go to art school in the first place for a lucrative career). The stats are against most graduates, as there are few that will go on and become successful artists, let alone ones who make money from their practice; and the odds are stacked against you even more if you're female. Additionally there are many graduates (such as myself) who are quite happy plodding away, making drawings at home on the couch that they'll never show and don't want to, but would like a job in the arts, again, regardless of the pay. That's why the industry needs to be better funded. It's ridiculous that the government spends so much money funding art schools/universities, then they don't do anything to utilise these educated peeps afterwards - talk about a shoddy investment. The last mobile phone I purchased was sold to me by someone who got first class honours in a fine arts degree, for instance. Working for Telstra (!) what a waste!

sallyhasblog said...

Yeah I do hear ya.

It's so hard because of course everyone wants to funnel extra money into programs if they can.

I also think that you have to be careful not to kill the love for the field that people have (which is why they want to do so much for so little) by wearing them out and leaving them feeling burnt out and undervalued.

It's just another way to waste smart, talented and yes, educated peeps I guess is my point.

I would hate you to think I was making an argument for the industry to NOT be better funded.

Lucy said...

I always think it's a shame that on 'let's celebrate volunteers day', those in the arts aren't recognised to be honest.

Anonymous said...

If you read about the ArtStart grant it is directly used to fund artists to be able to generate their own work... and become more independent... seems like you missed the boat there!

Anonymous said...

.. oh yeah and to help graduates to generate their own employment once they leave Uni.. a little reading on the subject might help your readers.. and uni students like me find out about stuff to help us.

Lucy said...

'Anonymous', I think you misunderstood my point.

I'm not against artist grants per se - as someone who has received emerging artist grants in the past I understand their value in terms of finance, CV and confidence boosting. However, I'm sick of the govt announcing new grants while failing to fund our museums and other arts institutions, which will provide long-term and meaningful employment and art-commissioning opportunities.

You may get money to make art now, but if our museums are sitting empty because there's no money to put on an exhibition (and this has happened recently in a Hobart gallery), long term opportunities for artists are somewhat diminished.