Controlled burn

WA Emergency Services Levy funding used to pay for $100,000 worth of artwork at fire stations.

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22 Responses to Controlled burn

  1. Archivist

    Incredible. I wonder how many other government (and private) projects are required to spend money on artwork…

  2. calli

    But because of the WA Government’s longstanding Percent for Art Scheme, which requires up to one per cent of the construction budget for new public buildings costing over $2 million to be spent on artwork, some of this money has been allocated to public art installations.

    Why?

    Is it better for an artist to burn in their garret than starve in it?

  3. Bushfire prevention through art. We need to investigate this further. It’s possible that interpretive dance could have ensured that no bushfire would have started.

  4. Leo G

    Does a well-cleared roadside qualify as public performance art?

  5. Archivist

    Why?

    This is a common bureaucratic trick; loading in various public goods as requirements and constraints on activity. In small doses it’s good, even necessary. The inverse of this particular story is a great example: art galleries have to have fire exits and a range of fire-compliant regulations, both during the build and as part of their ongoing operation. So, ironically, fire regulations themselves are an example of this exact principle at work. At an abstract bureaucratic level it doesn’t matter which is the project, and which is the public good that the project must accommodate.

    The core public goods addressed in this way are mostly the obvious ones: mitigation of fires, floods, earthquakes; toxin control; access, visibility, and local climate impacts. But it’s a sliding scale. After the core restraints come a variety of categories, from “not critical but it does affect public wellbeing” to “that’s not a bad idea either,” to “sure, I guess,” to “I have a mate who’s a local artist, can we find a way to get him some work.”

    It all depends on the community’s ability to absorb these costs and the extent of administrative creep.

  6. RobK

    The ESL has many scratching their head. When it first came in, our local brigade put in for a shed to house the towns old fire truck. Great. A couple of years later there were funds fora new truck! Great….except it did fit in the new shed. So second new shed. Then, the department has available funding for an electronic lock for shed.(but we have four “key”personnel around town, there’s no problem-duzzen madda).
    Then we wanted super single tyres on the new truck just as we had on the old one to tackle sandy paddocks. No. It doesn’t comply with specs. It took several years for them to come around. Then the word was the sheds needed power and water, shower, debriefing ( normally done at the pub), fridge etc, because funding. Many volunteers lost faith with the bureaucrats and left. Its a bit of costly shit show.

  7. Bronson

    Excellent the stations should immediately upon receipt hold a charity auction sell the pieces of art and use the money to buy what they need for fire fighting.

  8. Excellent the stations should immediately upon receipt hold a charity auction sell the pieces of art and use the money to buy what they need for fire fighting.

    Given the likely nature of the artwork, each one might fetch enough to buy a bucket (perhaps a metal one).

  9. Archivist

    the stations should immediately upon receipt hold a charity auction sell the pieces of art

    Then we’ll find out what they’re really worth.

  10. Biota

    See that the article has the captions for Fran Logan and Lea Anderson swapped around. Hard to get good help on $1 billion pa.

  11. Tel

    This is a common bureaucratic trick; loading in various public goods as requirements and constraints on activity. In small doses it’s good, even necessary. The inverse of this particular story is a great example: art galleries have to have fire exits and a range of fire-compliant regulations, both during the build and as part of their ongoing operation. So, ironically, fire regulations themselves are an example of this exact principle at work. At an abstract bureaucratic level it doesn’t matter which is the project, and which is the public good that the project must accommodate.

    Not at all. A fire exit is a well defined thing with an easily understood purpose.

    Artwork is largely a matter of opinion. Suppose they decide to paint the fire station bright pink and then declare that a pink fire station has a deep social meaning. All the “artwork” money gets spent buying the best quality resin paint and at least it keeps the rain out nicely. *shrug*

    Public good? Yeah right.

  12. Rohan

    Work for the dole scheme?

  13. [sarc]Has anyone asked what artists think of this? I think it’s very important to get the other side’s view as well.[/sarc]

  14. herodotus

    What are state governments good for – particularly the Labor ones.

  15. BoyfromTottenham

    I wonder who (or what pressure group) convinced the WA government that they should (secretly) subsidise the Yarts? 1 percent of the budget of every WA government building project is a nice little earner, and nobody (except the recipients) would notice because they probably don’t get a look at, or simply don’t care about looking at the budget breakdown of very state government project. Same as the RET $2 billion a year non-subsidy, non-tax for renewable generation!

  16. Damienski

    TODAY – Their ABC quotes Minister Logan ” it was “disingenuous” to suggest that funding public art … meant money had been taken away from firefighting resources …There are no bushfire brigades or other emergency services groups … missing out on funding because one per cent of public building investment has been allocated to artworks by West Australian artists.”

    THREE DAYS AGO – Their ABC quotes “The State … Member for Roe … said the Borden volunteers had been trying for years to acquire a heavy-duty, four-wheel drive fire truck to be permanently stationed near the tourist hub … (a local volunteer) told the ABC that the (volunteers) had been advised by … DFES in meetings dating back several years that the first stage of an application for the truck was unlikely to succeed.”

    Who is being disingenuous here?

  17. Their ABC quotes Minister Logan ” it was “disingenuous” to suggest that funding public art … meant money had been taken away from firefighting resources

    If even 1c of public money has been spent on ‘art’ for an emergency response facility, then it’s 1c that wasn’t spent on important things.

  18. Mother Lode

    Public art is soooo crappy.

    Once they erected monuments to individuals. Not super inspiring as works of art but it meant something and connected a place with a shared heritage: Statues of Captain Cook for example – everybody knows him, no one alive has seen him. The statue connects us to his achievements.

    And the great statue of Queen Victoria in front of the QVB in Sydney is brilliant. A visual synecdoche, as solid composed, and powerful as her empire.

    Compare to this thing, which sits at the side of the M2 in Sydney like a discarded drink bottle.

    We have self-satisfied bureaucrats and politicians whose affectations of culture reveal their philistine nature as glaringly as someone who buys a Faberge egg, lops the top off, and pots a little plant in it.

  19. Archivist

    Not at all. A fire exit is a well defined thing with an easily understood purpose.

    Yeah I’m not defending it, I’m trying to account for how this, and numerous things like it, came to be.

    If you can make someone spend extra money on fire exits (which I used as an example), then you can make them spend extra money on all sorts of things. And most of the time, nobody will notice or care. I mean it’s not like this public art was installed last week. It’s been there for ages and nobody cared.

  20. Tim Neilson

    If even 1c of public money has been spent on ‘art’ for an emergency response facility, then it’s 1c that wasn’t spent on important things.

    Hey, but it’s only taxpayers’ money.
    And there’s always more where that came from!
    So he’s absolutely right to say that no matter how much gets “invested” in artworks, that won’t stop any expenditure on anything else.

  21. stackja

    William Strutt painting about Black Thursday 1851 bushfire included in exhibition?

  22. Damienski

    Hey, but it’s only taxpayers’ money.
    And there’s always more where that came from!
    So he’s absolutely right to say that no matter how much gets “invested” in artworks, that won’t stop any expenditure on anything else.

    Quite so.

    Strangely enough, the ESL (= Emergency Services Levy added to local government rates in WA) seems to increase every year.

    Equally strangely, the number of BSWs (= Blue-Shirted W anchors) (= DFES employees who don’t actually use hoses) wandering aimlessly around the food trucks at any major fire is astounding.

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