In the 2014 Budget the Abbott federal government made some small cuts to arts funding. The Australia Council budget of $222 million annually was cut by around $10 million. While it’s pleasing to see cuts being made this really is a pathetically timid and inadequate beginning.
The issue the government needs to address is whether the government should have any role at all in the arts. State-subsidised “art” is almost always dire and more often than not the results are not art at all but political propaganda. This might have seemed like a great idea in the heyday of the Soviet Union but it is hardly appropriate in a free society.
State subsidies to the arts have the effect of enforcing political correctness in the arts. Any writer, artist or film-maker hoping for a government grant knows that even the smallest trace of political correctness, even the faintest hint of independent thought, will be enough to ensure that they miss out on a grant. The arts cannot possibly flourish in such a Soviet-style system.
The reality is that a great many people who currently describe themselves as artists or writers are merely deluding themselves. If you cannot make a living from your art that probably means your art isn’t any good. If no-one wants to buy your art then the obvious conclusion is that you should start looking for another job. You should not expect the taxpayer to support you in luxury for the rest of your life. We also need to ask ourselves how many artists and writers we actually need. If a large proportion of these people can’t support themselves from their art then it is likely that the art and literary markets are suffering from a serious over-supply of artists and writers.
Government subsidies for the arts are nothing more than welfare payments to a self-appointed elite of spoilt parasites. It’s time the arts gravy train was cancelled.