Rant: Leave Arts Funding Alone

The other day I took to my Facebook feed in search of some light entertainment while I was stuck on the bus resting a frazzled post-work brain. What I had in mind was just a classic cute animal video or a jealousy-provoking album of friend’s holiday to some incredibly exotic place. Instead, I came across something posted by Senator Scott Ludlam; a video that really grabbed my attention.

The clip involves a pretty badass Ludlam grilling the Minister for the Arts, Senator Mitch Fifield, over the fact that the Australian government invested $47 million in two US blockbuster films; Alien: Covenant and Thor: Ragnarok. What? A significant sum handed over to two wildly profitable US film franchises during a period in Australia where funding for the arts has been continuously cut, surely not? Alas, it is another example of a super-unbelievable headline about government action which you think is some weird satirical joke that actually turns out to be true.

Sure, arguments were made in the clip that the investment would bring jobs to Australia for those in creative industries and that those people would learn skills at a higher standard because of US involvement. That’s great. But what about Australian films? What about Australian television shows? Surely that money would be better appreciated by those local oddballs and creative geniuses who have projects they are desperately trying to get off the ground. It’s not like Hollywood studios don’t alreasy have plenty of sources of funding without having to help themselves to Australian taxpayers’ dollars.

Some may think the money is better spent elsewhere, that the government shouldn’t concern itself with handouts for the production of silly plays, books and paintings when there are more pressing matters at hand. I beg to differ.

Continuing arts funding is essential to the life of the nation – no matter how ‘silly’ the content that is produced.

To keep Sydney vibrant we need an arts scene; we need the creation of beautiful spaces, the production of inspiring musicals and plays, the establishment of great galleries holding exciting exhibitions, and films and television programs to call our own. Government funding allows artists’ voices to be heard, their stories to be told. Without government funding we would only be seeing art made by a select few, diminishing the creative life, and thus the energy of the city.

Sure, if you’d like to live in a boring husk of a city, unable to do anything a little different at night (and strapped for cash because we keep losing tourists) you might support slashing arts funding. But if you’d like to see Sydney’s art scene (or Australia’s culture for that matter) reach its full potential, to see spaces around Sydney transformed into stimulating locations, then it seems you care more about arts funding than perhaps you realise. So the next time someone says its not important, or tries to diminish the value of the arts, please speak up.

Natasha Michels