I have been meaning to post this article for a while:
and was reminded to when I got the AIR update email.
The article by Hans Abbing, goes into (among other issues) the fact that subsidies for artists are not the answer for sustaining professional artists.
Whenever I go to a discussion event and indeed, it happened at the seminar I was at in Cardiff last week, someone always pipes up with the fact that artists get support in countries like the Netherlands and Germany (Germany have stopped this now I think). They wonder why don’t we support our artists like this?
Hans Abbing says:
The moment more money flows into the arts – whether from more demand (including more public commissions) or support (including subsidies and donations) – the number of artists tends to grow and so does the number of poor artists. In the case of support this is problematic: support leads to more artists being poor while hardly increasing the amount of art that reaches the public.
I really don’t think artists should be subsidised by a general benefits system like the Netherlands – what right do artists have to warrant a use of tax payers money in such a way when our health/education systems need it so badly? I don’t understand why people feel they are entitled to special help either: I want to take responsibility for myself. I don’t oppose other sources of funding like Arts Council – the arts needs some support – but in a competitive field where quality is important, not by career choice default. The Arts Council has always been there while I have been an artist and I suppose I take it for granted. The first time I thought about how much we all depend on it (although I realise it’s not an entirely popular organisation – especially in Cardiff!) was when thinking about the fairly likely event of the Tories getting into power next year. They say they won’t cut funding, but don’t have a great track record.
So I shall have to think on that one as I just take all these systems for granted, I’ve never considered whether they are the best solution to supporting artists or not.
Alan Davey on the other hand, says funding the arts is very good value for moeny:
The article also made me think about where my income is coming from – a few organisations supported by Arts Council for a start, although no direct funding. It’s hard enough to make a living to start with, nevermind stopping to think about the morality of it all.
I found Mr Abbing’s article a pretty depressing (and realistic) read in that it highlights just how impossible the situation is, but the idea of stopping people trying to become artists is a sad one. I also had to wonder if I am one of those ‘In-between’ artists he mentions… I hope not.