No one doubts that health, the economy and education are valuable. Culture, however, is having a harder time mattering to the public. The arts — the expressive mechanism of culture — are in a particularly perilous situation.
Many think the arts are basically a gathering of trendy left-wing bludgers who should get a real job and stop sucking on the public teat. But the fact is we offer outstanding financial return on investment and build lasting value. Federal Office for the Arts statistics show Australia’s creative and cultural activity contributes more than $111bn (6.4 per cent of gross domestic product) and employs about 600,000 people (5.5 per cent of the workforce). The performing arts generate more than $2bn in ticket sales alone.
At Circa, we performed in 17 countries last year, generating almost $10 of income for every $1 of government funding. We employed more than 60 people producing a range of activities spanning engagement programs with dancers with Down syndrome, and recently arrived refugees, to performing at the most prestigious international festivals.
To endure our present isolation, many Australians watch Netflix, listen to the radio or read a book, and when we do so we participate in the arts. In Australia, more people undertake artistic activities than sporting ones, but we don’t back up this engagement with funding.
As a percentage of GDP we fund our art at a pitiful 66 per cent of the OECD average. Each year just two French companies (Paris Opera Ballet and Paris Philharmonie) receive as much grant support as the Australia Council gives to every artist and company. We could double the money that goes into the arts with no noticeable impact on anything economically, yet it would be a boon to our cultural capital…
Read the Full Article at The Weekend Australian
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