Danger of mediocrity in ‘demographic’ arts grants

IT would be tempting to dismiss the latest round of arts grants—long awaited by artists and announced by the ACT Government last week—as so much raspberry jam, thinly spread, but a closer look at this year’s list reveals an agenda of sorts.

Arts Minister Joy Burch

Arts Minister Joy Burch

To be sure, with just $1.8 million to go around and an ever-burgeoning community of artists, you can’t expect miracles, but there is a definite trend toward collective or group models.

Some of the current Government’s thinking can be traced back to the Loxton Report, with its emphasis on arts hubs. The thinking seems to be that if you look after the hubs the artist will look after themselves, a kind of group theory of seeding.

It would be churlish to begrudge stayers like Strathnairn Arts Association or Canberra Potters’ Society their $100,000 boosts, and there is logic to naming the Potters’ Society, Canberra Youth Music, Music for Everyone and QL2 Dance as key arts organisations.

Clearly the thinking is, as Arts Minister Joy Burch put it, that “this funding will ensure strong artistic development across the arts in the ACT.” That’s the raspberry jam philosophy.

Broken down, The 2014 ACT Arts Fund has allocated $670,000 allocated to Project Funding, $480,500 for Program Funding to enable the ACT community “to have access to and engagement with the arts,” and $650,000 to Key Arts Organisations.

It looks as if the larger part goes to projects, but only just, and it is there that the jam is at its thinnest.

The Minister’s statement hints at a demographic approach: “Among a diverse mix of arts projects, local contemporary band Super Best Friends will be supported in 2014 to produce a debut full-length rock recording…Another recipient is Canberra Dance Theatre, who will develop new dance works for teens with special needs and for people over 55.”

And what, we may ask, of the adult dancers at the height of their powers?

Ms Burch also cites the development of a non-fiction comic book featuring themes around environmental sustainability and economics; a ‘zine vending machine which will feature the work of local ‘zine-makers; an exhibition featuring the work of six visual artists and a musician who have had residencies in the Tanami Desert.

It sounds impressive, with a preference for worthy, socially focused projects rather than those likely to produce exciting artist results or challenging themes. The full list below bears out that impression.

The full list of successful applicants to the 2014 ACT Arts Fund:

Project Funding

ACT Disability, Aged and Carer Advocacy Service: $19,848 to assist with costs of producing digital stories by people with a disability

Art Monthly Australia Ltd: $10,000 to assist with costs of publishing the work of ACT-based arts writers/critics and artists

Asialink, University of Melbourne: $20,000 to assist with costs of Asialink Arts Residencies for ACT artists

Atfield, David: $39,500 to assist with costs of staging a theatre production at The Street Theatre

Australian Book Review Inc: $12,000 to assist with costs of ACT writers creating new literary work

Batchelor, James: $16,500 to assist with costs of developing and presenting a dance performance

Bradley, Karen: $34,452 to assist with costs of staging a musical theatre production

Brass Knuckle Brass Band: $8,490 to assist with costs of workshopping and recording new compositions of contemporary funk-based brass music

Canberra Choral Society: $33,146 to assist with costs of the ‘Come and Sing’ program

Canberra Dance Theatre: $16,720 to assist with costs of producing new dances with CDT GOLD and CDTeens

CanberraZine Emporium: $3,999 to assist with costs of managing a vending machine for ‘Zines’

Clay, J.T.: $7,775 to assist with costs of editing a time-travel novel

Day, Michelle: $2,922 to assist with costs of creating a new body of sculptural work

del Castillo, Mariana: $6,578 to assist with costs of neon signs as part of an exhibition

Delves, Maxine: $8,760 to assist with costs of creative development of a physical theatre/circus performance

Greenaway, Sally: $5,623 to assist with costs of a CD of classical compositions

Groundrush Six: $23,000 to assist with costs of an exhibition and catalogue from a residency at the Tanami Gold Mine

Hagerty, Catherine and Heidi Silberman: $25,000 to assist with costs a theatre production about the lives of women in Australia during World War I

Hammer, Chris: $6,168.00 to assist with costs of researching and developing a novel set in Canberra

Jerjen, Rafael: $14,358 to assist with costs of recording an album of original jazz compositions

Kochel, Jay: $11,267 to assist with the costs of a new body of artwork involving scent and odour

Lallemand, Blaide & Michael Norris: $9,700 to assist with costs of research and development of an interactive sound installation

Larsson, Adelina: $21,598 to assist with costs of a choreographic development and performance for professional dance artists

Lorrimer, Dan: $10,877 to assist with costs of developing and exhibiting new sculptural work

Mason, Sarah: $7,700 to assist with costs of developing a family memoir manuscript

McCarthy, Cadi: $39,900 to assist with costs of the creative development of a new dance theatre work

McMillen, Stuart: $9,720 to assist with the costs of drawing a non-fiction comic book

Molonglo Group Cultural Fund: $25,638 to assist with costs of artists fees for community-focused, multi-arts festival ‘Art not Apart’

National Folk Festival: $34,000 to assist with costs of presenting ACT performing artists at the National Folk Festival

Page, Geoff: $3,725 to assist with costs of presenting poetry readings at the Gods Cafe

Parker, Jemima: $6,435 to assist with the costs of creating a new body of work for a solo exhibition at the Belconnen Arts Centre

Patrick, Tanya: $13,420 to assist with costs of research and writing a non-fiction children’s book

Petocz, Catherine: $35,000 to assist with costs of producing and presenting a theatre production

Porter, Phoebe: $9,950 to assist with costs of creating contemporary jewellery for exhibition

Sharrock, Jim: $4,500 to assist with costs of developing a music production for schools

SoundOut: $30,817 to assist with the costs of staging the SoundOut improvisational and experimental music festival

Stubbs, Ben: $10,000 to assist with costs of researching a travel book

Super Best Friends: $9,817 to assist with the costs of producing a full length debut rock recording

Westwood, Kim: $13,646 to assist with costs of writing, researching and editing a novel

Tait, Melanie: $11,800 to assist with costs of completing and editing a book of fiction

The Griffyn Ensemble: $16,800 to assist with costs of developing musical performances

Todo, Kensuke: $20,655 to assist with costs of a solo exhibition of steel sculptures at Drill Hall Gallery ANU

 

Program Funding

Australian National Capital Artists Inc: $40,000 in 2014 and 2015 to assist with costs of delivering the ANCA gallery program

Arts Sound FM: $67,000 for 2014 and 2015 to assist with costs of delivering arts programs at the station

Canberra City Band Inc: $21,500 in 2014 to assist with costs of delivering band music programs

Canberra International Film Festival Inc: $45,000 in 2014 and 2015 to assist with costs of staging the Canberra International Film Festival

M16 Artspace Inc: $70,000 in 2014 and $40,000 in 2015 to assist with costs of delivering the M16 gallery program

Pro Musica Inc: $77,000 in 2014 and 2015 to assist with costs of staging the Canberra International Music Festival

Strathnairn Arts Association Inc: $100,000 in 2014 and 2015 to assist with costs of managing the Strathnairn Arts Centre and deliver visual arts programs

You Are Here Inc: $60,000 in 2014 and 2015 to assist with costs of staging the You Are Here festival

 

Key Arts Organisation Funding

Canberra Potters’ Society Inc: $100,000 in 2014 to assist with costs of managing the Watson Arts Centre and deliver ceramic programs

Canberra Youth Music Inc and Music for Everyone Inc: $250,000 in 2014 to assist with costs of delivering music programs at the Ainslie Arts Centre

QL2 Dance Inc: $300,000 per year for 2014 to 2018 to assist with costs of delivering youth dance programs

 

 

 

 

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