Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ethical Art's Funding

The Transfield/BoS saga raises interesting talking points about broader art's funding issues. How far should artists extend such ideas when it comes to funding their work? If you disagree with a local, state or federal government's policies, do you 'refuse' their funding processes and subsequent branding of your projects? If a much hated Politician is to pose gappy toothed to 'cut the ribbon' on your project, do you make a point of refusing their hand?

It's a difficult balancing act between professional ambition, any greater 'good' of the work and ethical problems that might come from funding.

In an interview with Nathan Gray on Tuesday's Triple J's 'Hack' program (mp3), the point was raised that making protest art within the context of the BoS - as supported by Transfield/BoS - might actually ultimately support the structure of the current funding by attracting audiences. ie. a boycott is far more likely to have an effect if audience numbers suffer for it.

A good model for ethical art's funding might be that from Australian Ethical Investments which is as follows. Point xi is particularly interesting when applied to the Federal Govt/OzCo:

Australian Ethical shall avoid any investment which is considered to unnecessarily:
i. pollute land, air or water
ii. destroy or waste non-recurring resources
iii. extract, create, produce, manufacture, or market materials, products, goods or services which have a harmful effect on humans, non-human animals or the environment
iv. market, promote or advertise, products or services in a misleading or deceitful manner
v. create markets by the promotion or advertising of unwanted products or services
vi. acquire land or commodities primarily for the purpose of speculative gain
vii. create, encourage or perpetuate militarism or engage in the manufacture of armaments
viii. entice people into financial over-commitment
ix. exploit people through the payment of low wages or the provision of poor working conditions
x. discriminate by way of race, religion or sex in employment, marketing, or advertising practices
xi. contribute to the inhibition of human rights generally

They also posit a 'positive' side of the ledger:

Australian Ethical shall seek out investments which provide for and support:
a. the development of workers' participation in the ownership and control of their work organisations and places
b. the production of high quality and properly presented products and services
c. the development of locally based ventures
d. the development of appropriate technological systems
e. the amelioration of wasteful or polluting practices
f. the development of sustainable land use and food production
g. the preservation of endangered eco-systems
h. activities which contribute to human happiness, dignity and education
i. the dignity and well being of non-human animals
j. the efficient use of human waste
k. the alleviation of poverty in all its forms
l. the development and preservation of appropriate human buildings and landscape


Too often there is a 'beggars can't be choosers' mentality in art's funding with many looking over the heads of blood money to their own ambitions ... this is fundamentally flawed.

Don't hesitate to be mad. Put your hand over your cup, celebrate your madness and yell at all who offend with gusto!

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