someone asked me after hearing about yesterday's blog post, "They should be thrown out. We shouldn't be wasting taxpayer money on anything like that. If people want those things they can pay for them themselves."
He was adamant. There should be no funding for anything that was even vaguely "cultural".
"What about literary prizes?" his wife asked.
No, none of those either.
His proud claim is that he does not read novels. He only reads non-fiction. He believes that libraries should stock only non-fiction. They should be "places where you can find things out" - nothing more. Reading fiction, he told us, "does not help you to find out about the world."
He went off to play cricket. His wife said, "Nothing will change him."
At that time I had not read Chris's comments or thought about the issue of sport.
We do spend a lot of money on sport in Australia. It is supposed to be one of the national passions. A lot of taxpayer money goes into funding sport, providing facilities for sport, supporting sportspeople and training them etc etc.
There is a "National Institute for Sport" - "students" can live and work there on scholarships. There are cricket, football and golf "schools". There are secondary schools which have a special emphasis on sport.
Those who excel at sport are referred to as "heroes". There are street parades for medal and Grand Final winners. Some of them get paid obscene sums of money. Admittedly they have had to work at acquiring skills and the length of their careers is limited but $500,000 is not bad for an inexperienced footballer of no particular talent who has not yet managed to kick a goal.
Compared with the money to be had in sport then Arts Council Grants are very small. The adulation given the artist, musician, actor or writer is much less - with very rare exceptions.
So, I have another question...how do we justify spending more on sportspeople? As Chris points out in yesterday's comment these people are not doing it for the general good. Other people do not benefit from their individual performance. They do not all win medals. Is it really any different?