Fighting back against arts cuts

I wrote an original version of this post on Facebook, then decided it should live here instead. So I cut and pasted it.

Or at least, I cut it.

Oh the irony. Here’s version two.

So I’m pretty angry about the recent Australian federal budget. There are plenty of things to be angry about, but mostly I’m pissed about the slashes to arts funding. They’re big, they target independent artists and small to medium companies, and they have taken effect very quickly.

Independent artists get a tiny fraction of government spending – indeed, only a fraction of government arts spending – in order to pay not for salaries or comfortable lifestyles but breathing room. I’ve spend nearly my entire arts career struggling to balance the time my art needs with jobs that will pay me to get by; I only quit the “day jobs” when it became clear I couldn’t get anywhere without devoting all my time to those arts. Now that I am lucky enough to work on funded projects, it means I can get away with only doing three or four other things to get by with rent and bills, instead of the six or seven it used to take. That’s the difference low- and mid-level arts funding makes. Most of the money goes on the project – which means it doesn’t disappear, it flows on to businesses selling the materials and services we need to make our art.

It might sometimes be glamorous and exciting to be an independent artist, but it is often stressful and depressing and yes we do it because we love it but that doesn’t mean we don’t see people in regular jobs and wonder what knowing when you will be paid and how much is like.

The arts are targeted for cuts not because they are unimportant, but because they are without money to lobby or complain the ways banks, mines and fossil fuel companies can to protect the billions of dollars spent on them. But while we may not have money, we do have a loud voice – and we won’t be shutting up for the forseeable future.

If you care about Australian culture, if you have ever complained that we only make about five dramas and two comedies in this country, if you want the next George Miller to last long enough in the industry to make her or his Mad Max, then I’d encourage you to shout too.

I know you probably feel like there are other things to shout about; I get it. There are lots of things. If you only have time for one fight, I understand. I’d encourage you to support the ASRC or MSF or stopping the eviction of Aboriginal communities or campaigns for equal pay or whatever else, I trust you. I’ll be trying to do all of them, often through my art, so you’ll understand why this one might take precedence for a little while.