Saturday, 27 February 2010

Now if they can find a million dollars

for "temporary art installations" why can they not find money for other things?
It will, I suppose, be a 'good thing' for the artists who benefit. This is taxpayer patronage of the arts. Someone will be employed to oversee the expenditure. Artists will get a space to display their wares and, hopefully, somebody will buy from them. In turn they may even pay some tax on what they sell - if they earn enough.
Compared with the level of taxpayer support for sport and 'the racing industry' it is little enough.
What bothers me however is that other organisations do not get the same level of support from government. Most of them have no permanent home. They meet in halls scattered over the city. They often pay excessive rent for premises that are, at best, only a place to meet. There is nowhere to store equipment, books, audio-visual equipment etc. It curtails activities and does not allow for the sort of temporary installations that would bring the public through the doors.
They are also required to have public liability insurance.
Currently a modest public liability insurance policy for an organisation I belong to is just over $1000 a year. (Yes I do have the number of '0's' correct.) It is a lot of money for a group that does not engage in a 'dangerous' activity. Of course we are helping to pay for those who do engage in slightly more dangerous activities. There is also a 'user pays' argument. We want to engage in the activity, therefore we should pay the associated expenses.
There is however another argument. These activities are actually beneficial to the taxpayer. Those who engage in them develop social networks, more importantly they develop social support networks. This is good for both mental and physical health. Almost any activity - knitting, life drawing, woodwork, embroidery, electronics, radio, carving, quilting, bonsai, gardening, walking, water-colours, ballroom dancing - is of value to someone. If just one person in a group finds support that prevents the need for professional mental health support or support that keeps them active and in their own homes for longer then this would more than pay for a public liability insurance takeover by the taxpayer.
There was a possibility several years ago for the government to convert a school in the city into a permanent community arts centre. They did not take it up. There was another possibility for a permanent residential centre in another area. They did not take it up.
It is unlikely to happen. We will continue to pay just over a $1000. It is money that could be spent on books. I would rather have the books.


Anonymous said...

I would rather the books too, plus a shelf to put theo on, and a roof and walls to keep the elements out. Room to share the books with a group of like minded people would be a castle ...... unfortunately, a castle in the air for small groups.

Judy B

catdownunder said...

Sigh...(sorry about the stray cat hairs). You are so right.