Monday, April 26, 2010

An argument against government-driven arts funding and for micro-philanthropy…

Today I have been reading - again - about Ray Kurzweil's 'Singularity' theories and a bit about Social Entropy.

One of the key arguments of the later is that 'Entropy increases with time. As the system becomes more complex … it becomes more susceptible to changes that may occur if one were to remove this source of energy … Once reliable, cheap supplies … are limited, social systems will begin to become more disorganised and disorderly.' (1)

Could we apply the same principles to the typical arts funding monopoly or duopoly in Australia? These are arguably already fragile and often politically-tainted creatures so you have to wonder how they will react to any future stresses? Would it not be more rational to diversify funding sources and encourage multi-faceted media outlets in order to ultimately build a more stabile environment?

A buzz 'term' - especially in an election year - is the 'elimination of waste'. This as opposed to genuine 'change'. What essentially happens in moments of stress is that which is on the fringe - and politically 'benign' - is trimmed to accommodate the inefficiencies of that in the core.

Any projects that aren't likely to fulfil KPIs and other outcomes-driven ideals are then much less likely to be funded. Such things are political catnip for conservative politicians, especially when their own inefficiencies are under scrutiny.

'Little Tommy might lose his leg and you want money to do what?!?'

I maintain that the best model I have seen would have to be Kick Starter. It's rewards-based and is a system familiar to younger arts 'consumers'.

They are used to - and uninhibited by - the idea of spending small amounts on songs, games, photography, movies, etc for micro-rewards. It also speaks to an intimacy with an artist which, whilst often idealised, does encourage both parties to produce innovative and engaging work.

Kurzweil doesn't really relate to this post but I will throw in a few links as it's fascinating stuff.

For those who don't know him, an 'easy' starting point would be his TED talks from 2005 and 2009. He does tend to inspire vitriol from both sides of the ledger but they are very interesting theories nonetheless.

(1) Wikipedia.

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