There has been a lot of discussion about the Arts and what that means for a society lately with the annoucement of combining the Communication & Arts portfolio into a new super portfolio; Department of Infrastructure, Transport, and Regional Development. (See details here) As an artist it is a pretty demoralising move where your career & passion have been hidden inside an already stuffed package without a name-sake.
I am not naive enough to think that is an isolated incident and only The Arts have been affected by the recent changes, but I can speak to this one issue in particular.
I will also note that my thoughts and musings are that of an anecdotal nature based on the personal experiences I have had throughout my life as a creative kid, artist & now teacher/mentor to our next generation.
I task you to reflect on your own position of the value of The Arts. It is a hard one, it impacts so much of our lives as it encompasses more than that initial stocktake looking only at a brief moment in Art history to be 'art'. But when you dig a little deeper you uncover music, film, performace, design, visual and so much more. It is a multi-disciplinary package that touches every moment of your life. But the value? How do you quantify that? Is there a scale we can rank each time that we have an experience that we can collate as rolling and ongoing data?
For me though as someone who works both in the fully self-funded business (Tinker) of Arts and the community engagement/awareness/public programming that is reliant on funding assistance. I have seen first hand just in my local community the impacts of lack of support. It is full of instrustry burn out, cancelled programs and community projects pulled together on a shoestring budget. But it impacts so many people, both creatives and non.
But, even with all this to consider, when I read that news my heart sank. Like a deep, swallowed up whole feeling. Not only for myself and my peers that have contributed so much to our Australian creative culture, but for the future careers of our tiniest artists, I work regulary with children. The children that are the square peg trying so hard to fit desperately into a round hole. The ones that already, through the lack of artistic opportunities from our current education system (but that is another blog) are now faced with the fact that our government, the highest infrastructure that trickles down into each and every element of our society tells the world that The Arts are not important. And yes you can say, 'No that isn't what they are saying.' But when you remove a whole department from public eye and slide in into another with no name-sake can you really believe that that is a message of respect, support, value and appreciation.
So, me being a practical person looked at this and thought what can I do? I've signed a few petitions here and there, I've annouced my frustration publically but I also pulled up my big girl pants and decided that now more than ever what I am doing through Tinker is just that more important.
Through working with our Tinker kids I can model the career of an artist. I can be present and not hidden away in some dark unnamed corner. I can work with kids to help them find value in their skills, because trust me those skills are mighty valuable. It's not just about me getting my paint on, it's what I can do to help support a sustainable creative culture for our future.
So while I let all the people who handle policies and portfolios try to make sense of what it is that is happening, at least I know, on a small localised level that I can do my bit to ensure the future of Australian Arts.
And for you, how can you support the arts?
- go to a local exhibition (trust me your town is full of them they just don't have the budget to advertise - so check social media for that)
- buy an artwork/or print from an artist not a department store. Find them at the above mentioned exhibition, or stalk instagram
- support local places like Tinker, First Coat, Kreate It, Dunmore Gallery, TRAG, Banter (if you aren't a Toowoomba local head to social media to discover what's around your area)
- Sign a petition