The romantic notion of the starving artist may be losing some of its appeal, replaced by the state-funded activist grandstander. Instead of bohemians burning Rodolfo’s manuscript to keep warm, today’s artists can burn the dollars of private sponsors to make party political points. Artists happy to take government grants or exhibit at events funded by government then can use them as platforms to target a private sponsor.
It is actually more pernicious. The public funding of artists in Australia has crowded out art. To be an artist, one must struggle. The bohemian of today lives too comfortably and hence is unable to produce art. Once the artist struggled and produced fine art. Today they live comfortably and struggle to produce art.
Do we want to increase the supply of quality art in Australia? If the answer is yes, we must abolish the Australia Council. Artists must seek patronage from the private sector as they have for thousands of years.
This would be a pareto improvement. Cutting the Australia Council would improve the Budget, lead to a greater supply of great art and improve the wellbeing of today’s cohort of substandard artists.