"Scene ten, the turd in the Tupperware dish - it's a little
low-brow for the ABC."
And so ended the pitch that was to sell our script; that was to be our
television debut. The ABC comedy development officer we offended was the
protectorate of a money pool - part of the mountainous public purse that
makes up what the dreamers dream is the arts funding bonanza.
And the dreamers? Struggling artists like me.
It's not uncommon to stumble across people full of house-red at a
dinner party arguing endlessly about government money for the arts.
There's either too much or not enough. It's totally wasted or chronically
short for what's needed. Poured into elitist crap or blamed for creating
the cultural cringe. Well, there is enough money - it just doesn't go to
the right people.
Recently I was told I was an outsider: "You don't fit in, don't
know the right people, didn't get the right education. You have to be an
insider to make it". When I sobered up I took it as a complement. But
do I really qualify? People are crying at real estate auctions - no-one
feels my pain.
"It's just not fair," I tell my stationer.
The replacement for my printer cartridge costs double the value of the
printer it serves.
"You want fair? Get yourself a Ferris wheel," he yells back.
But that's all I really want. Fair. I want someone at the Australia
Council to read my support material - everyone has a novel inside them, it
would be nice to have one funded. I want someone at SBS to put down their
latte and bring back public access - I could read the weather for Anton. I
want someone at the Australian Film Commission to return my phone messages
- I co-wrote a full-length feature that screened in North America, Ireland
and Germany to rave reviews but when I needed help, desperate calls to the
AFC got me voicemail. I know Bill Hunter wasn't in it. I know the
beautiful people didn't endorse it - but it won an award in Texas. That
must mean something.
Nicole Kidman has a rubber nose in her latest film. She'll get an
I've always believed art needs to be self-funded. Government subsidies
should be focused on industries that, while they're never going to be self
sufficient, should at least employ workers who support families. Like
mung-bean farming or shale-oil manufacturing. Film makers who churn out
million dollar public-funded movies making a fraction back and calling
themselves independent need to step into the real world. Not since the
dot.com joke has spending other people's money been something to be proud
Arts funding needs to be channelled. It's sad seeing hard-earned tax
dollars paying for catering trucks dishing out tofu on wishy-washy films
only one per cent of the population will ever see. I say: make
grants smaller and more frequent. Not more money but more people getting a
slice of it. I want the Government to give me a $1000 Officeworks voucher
so I can buy printer cartridges.
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