Savvy artists taking the system for a ride,,25450222-2862,00.html

The strangest thing (other than a slight feeling of ‘success’ for being damned by a tabloid) is that funding bodies encourage the ‘double dipping’ across multiple funding bodies.

No mention (on the pdf) that “Inert” (wacky project) was funded by Arts Victoria in 2004 and 2006, and then by the City of Melbourne in 2008. That’s actually $40k AUD of public funds over 5 years of development, and involving 5+ different artists, 137 performances in Melbourne, and screenings of the film in Scotland, England and France. This might be considered value for money, but I hope I am not sounding too defensive!

The larger story is perhaps about how we devalue things that are not designed to make money, when perhaps (particularly given the wonderful display of stability and honesty in the ‘free market’ lately) endeavour that is not about profit or market should be prized.

I am involved in making performance and screen work because I believe it is meaningful; not in a world changing way, but with small, delicate (and often wobbly) steps. This is not so wacky.

Here’s Efva Lilja (again):

I sometimes get so dreadfully tired of the fact that significance is only assigned to that which fulfills some obvious function. As a result, art becomes aesthetics, entertainment, form … Function becomes synonymous with meaning, or with what can be explained.

(from Dance ??? For Better, For Worse, p.38)

Productivity is very much in focus when it comes to contemporary work for the stage, as are quantitative assessments based on the number of performances and the size of audiences. ‘Knocking out a hit show’ ??? the very idea impoverishes the content and blocks off possible paths to development. Performances become trade goods, adapted for the market. Work fast and simply and it will be cheap, which means many people can see it. But what will they see? What do you? (p.26).


By the way, Elizabeth just landed in Melbourne and happened across a copy of the Herald Sun (or The Hun as it is known there) that contained this expos??. And she thought she was getting away from me.


5 Replies to “Savvy artists taking the system for a ride”

  1. Commenting on my own post: like sending oneself flowers …I thought it was relevant to add that in 2006 "Inert" won an Australian Dance Magazine Critic’s Award from the Herald Sun dance writer for "Best new work". The Hun giveth, the Hun taketh away.

  2. The upside, I imagine, although not mentioned here, is being known as "the notorious Simon Ellis" to all and sundry

  3. A question today. How do we assign value to things? There were a bunch of people sitting in a studio, looking at an empty space, being artists one might assume if one were to wander in. I get it. And god damn it, after reading that article (for want of a better word) I think, well – more of the sitting and micro analysing image, relation, communication. Again, being here in Australia and being an artist (or trying) are two fairly polar opposite camps. Shame on her.

  4. Not sure Paea – I think that the writer simply knows her audience (as evidenced by the comments on the story online). The simple answer to your question is that consumer capitalism encourages the idea that actions that make money are to be valued.This leaves dance (and the arts) on the backfoot for sure.My take on all this is simply to keep pursuing ideas – some needing money, others not – to the best of my ability, without being weighed down by cultural negativity or insecurity.

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