Structures and Transition

FT Stage 1, Wed 4th Oct, 1:30pm, 2 Hours Facilitator: Tricia Walton & John Baylis

Imagine the sector starting all over again, and planning for the here and now, and well into 2050: what funding and organisational structures do we want to support us? What structures can best support education, making, presentation, and touring? What structures enable our theatre making to contribute to pertinent cultural conversations?

Key Points (Updated Live)

  • As a group we brainstormed ideas for the following scenario: What would society look like if all the existing structures have been torn down in a revolution, and all forms of power and organisation has been eliminated. We are the last surviving people and we are building the world from the bottom up. Starting from scratch, what could things look like, and what do we want the world of the Arts to look like? Now, in the near future, and in 50 years time.

  • Then, in 4 groups, we tackled these ideas and discussed them at length, before coming back to the group and presenting our findings.

  • Group #1: Cultural Protocols 1. We discussed the idea that every artist, big or small, has to spend rigorous time immersed in Indigenous culture, learning cultural protocols. It would not be a one-off course, but a lifelong learning experience. It would also not be just a project specific intensive, but an ongoing education. There would not be a national model for this, but a localised and unique system for each community. 2. To help this happen, there would need to be more indigenous leadership of artistic organisations. There would be less hierarchical artistic organisations. There would be less work made in traditional theatre spaces. 3. There would be less fear and more collaboration with Indigenous communities as a collective, rather than an asking of “permission” as a token formality. Artistic projects would not involve one person, but rather be a shared responsibility in the community, and involve an eldership as opposed to singular elders. Schools would teach the local Indigenous language. All schools would be bi-lingual. 4. The method of funding this is unclear, but revolution or not, this is something that needs to happen. It is a real possibility, totally doable. Awareness and education and expression of Indigenous culture starts in the Arts. It is up to us because we have the influence and power. It is a priority.

  • Group #2: Embedding Artists in Non-Artistic Organisations & the Longevity of Artistic Organisations 1. We talked about a world in which, to be classified as an artist, one needed to spend a few years working and creating art in regional Australia. 2. A future with companies with over 100 employees that are required to have a resident artist was also discussed. 3. We discussed rebuilding regional and urban boundaries, and the melding of the two. 4. We talked about that if there was no more government funding of the arts, that in fact multi-national corporations like Nike or Coca-Cola would sponsor artistic companies and individuals, and they would operate under the corporation’s umbrella, with their money. Another way could be that it is a necessity for multi-national corporations in Australia to adopt an artistic company. 5. In terms of the longevity of artistic organisations, it was discussed that funding would cease after 10 years and the companies would have to fold, or evolve, or reinvent themselves. Otherwise the idea of burning/destroying all established purpose-built theatres was thrown around.

  • Group #3: Distribution of Funds 1. We discussed the idea that funding for arts was artist based rather than project or company based, and instead the individual artist was given funding for a year, regardless of the outcome, to see where they would end up and what they could achieve. The reverse was discussed also – should organisations be funded rather than individuals. Individuals potentially waste the funds, and organisations get all the leverage if they have all the funds. 2. The idea was played with of every citizen being financed individually, but to do so they are required to partake in a piece of theatre or performance art once a year, like a compulsory curricular activity. The idea of artists justifying their projects to a random “jury” of Australians for funding was explored. These “juries” would decide funding distribution. 3. The idea that there would be no funding for creators, only commissioning funds for the presenters, was one we toyed with. In this world, the presenters would need to pitch for money to commission projects that they wanted to present. This would open the door to co-presentations between presenters. Alternatively the presenters would need to fundraise for the money. The presenter model would be specific to the individual rather than transcendental. 4. Removing politicians from the arts funding process altogether was discussed. Alternatively, the Arts Ministers would be elected by the artists themselves. 5. What if all individuals in an artistic organisation were funded equally? What if there was unlimited funding for individuals or organisations, regardless of size? What if every artist was competing for the same money pool, and every artist had the same opportunities as each other?

  • Group #4: Artists’ Living Wage 1. Here we discussed the viability of a basic wage for artists to live off. The idea that we hypothesised instead was that of a universal basic income for everyone rather than deciding who is and isn’t an artist. Another idea is that a minimum wage is supplied to artists along with an agreement to put aside a basic amount of that towards creating and presenting artwork. 2. Another idea explored was that of each taxpayer having control over where their tax goes. When paying tax, the taxpayer can decide how much goes towards defence, health, education and the arts. Explored also was the idea of tax breaks for spending in the arts. 3. We also discussed art apprenticeships as a way of getting into the industry while learning and working. 4. Making art free was also a talking point. Not only would this benefit society and the wellbeing of its people, but it would take pressure off marketing. Free tickets would benefit the audience and reach, and thus affect, more people. Free art would benefit poorer people, as opposed to tax breaks which would benefit the rich.

  • Other ideas that we came up with as a group but were not deeply discussed are as follows: • We abolish boards, and instead artists govern • All citizens have to be artists for 2 years, instead of in the military (like in other countries) • There is enough facilitation to incorporate disability arts as the norm • Corporal punishment for substandard art • Art news instead/as well as sports and weather • All boards to be made up of children • Add A (Arts) to STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) to make STEAM in schools