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Friday Ephemera

How Dare You Hold on to Your Wallet

Meanwhile, in the Guardian:

[Arts Council] grants aren’t won down the pub by a dart competition where the bullseye’s a picture of the taxpayer’s face. Of course, I wish they were, because that would save the hours of work it takes to write a grant application. And I’m pretty good at darts.

So writes Zoë Coombs Marr, a writer, comedian and “theatre maker,” and a woman of profound humility, in a piece complaining about the “devastating effects” of modest alterations in taxpayer subsidy for Australia’s commercially unviable artists. Artists who, while unloved by the general public, are nonetheless deserving of money they haven’t earned. “I’m here to bust a few myths,” says Ms Marr. And so begins a sorrowful tale of how bloody hard it is to be an artist whose work is of little interest to the public, and how hard it is to screw other people’s earnings out of other people:

Grant applications are comprehensive proposals that take multiple people and sometimes months to complete. They’re assessed by a panel of professionals (not your mates) employed to pick your application apart, assess it for financial viability and community relevance.

At this point, rather bafflingly, Ms Marr links to an article – this one here, by Tim Blair - which is part of a series of pieces by Blair and Andrew Bolt on arts funding cronyism and the ludicrous misspending of public money. A series that actually reveals her claim of funding integrity and aesthetic high-mindedness as – how shall I put this? – less than convincing. Not your mates, indeed

Undaunted, or perhaps oblivious, our unhappy artist continues,

Grant money is pumped back into the economy and employs numerous people. 

How much and how many is, sadly, left unspecified. But apparently Australia’s economy will be rendered turgid and engorged by throwing $21,000 that someone else had to earn at “rainforest basketry training programmes,” and another $20,000 at “dance theatre work devised by participants who identify as fat/large/bigger-bodied.” And by surrendering a further $12,000 of taxpayers’ money to “enrich the sensory theatre practice” of one person “with master classes and mentoring in Body Mind Centring praxis.” Yes, you can hear that economy boom from half a world away. These examples, by the way, are among the many cited in the article by Tim Blair, and to which Ms Marr links as somehow helping her case.

Readers unswayed by Ms Marr’s article - in which she says, “I could try to explain to you why we should fund the arts” but doesn’t bother doing so - should note that she is the winner of Australia’s taxpayer-subsidised 2006 National Poetry Slam Championships. So there’s that. A more recent poetic work by Ms Marr can be savoured here. [ Added: ] And thanks to Nikw211 in the comments, Ms Marr’s comedic stylings – the fruits of her “training, skill and hard work” - can be experienced at length here. I should point out it’s quite a slog and you may want a stiff drink to hand. Or a canister of nitrous oxide.