Earlier this week, my husband got sick of the “weeds” [his word; I call them “chicken greens”] in our front yard, and he sought a quote to have a stranger pull them out. The quote equated to a rate of more than $70/hr.
I was gobsmacked. This is more than I make copy editing.
Then on Facebook today, a Program Manager role was advertised for an upcoming writing festival. This position requires applicants to possess specialised skills, knowledge and experience, and prefers a tertiary degree — for the princely rate of $36/hr.
My incredulity at this comes not from begrudging someone their living, or in opposition to the basics of supply and demand. It comes from a deep sense of inequity.
Increasingly, I observe that activities attached to the arts — endeavours that require imagination, a level of specialised skill, and discipline in the face of cultural risk and uncertain reward — do not seem to be valued by this country’s current political leaders, unless you are an administrator or someone at the pinnacle of your discipline.
Then they’ll use you as a hatstand.
Arts funding in Australia has suffered significant cutbacks over the last 18 months. This is all the more surprising when you consider the very real economic benefit of creative endeavours, let alone the innovation and socio-cultural benefits to beneficial contributions to business, community, and individuals.
In response to the recent cuts, a group called the Protagonists rallied artists from across Australia for today’s National Day of Action.
I have recorded a poem, ‘Open Letter’, as my contribution to this conversation.
While this is written as a response to another set of insults — the Productivity Commission’s Report into Intellectual Property Arrangements, which have the potential to impact on creators’ rights and incomes in Australia — on a broader note, it recognises the (lack of) inherent value I’m feeling is attached to art and artists in this economic environment.
It’s dark and strong in places, I know. That’s what happens when you write from a place of frustration.
Part of me wonders why I would bother posting this, when I am such a little fish. But even the littlest fish have voices.
Yours in words,
PS. If you have the time and inclination, please check out the links in my post. They’ve got some meat on them.