Video Games Could Be Collateral Damage In Australia’s War On Arts And Culture

I’d like to tell you about a desk. It’s a plain piece of furniture with two uncomfortable roller chairs drawn up to it, and a box full of wooden spoons underneath. On top there’s not much except a whiteboard, a phone, and a bunch of old posters. It doesn’t look like much, but to me, it says something about where video games are at right now.

This desk is the Freeplay desk. Freeplay is Australia’s longest-running games event, dating to 2004 - an Independent Games Festival founded here in Australia only a year after Eric Zimmerman had provocatively asked the San Franciscan developer’s conference whether independent video games existed at all. I’m the Director of the festival and have been since 2014; the desk is, despite Freeplay’s robust outward appearance, all that is actually concrete about the festival. It’s not much, I guess.

It isn’t always used - Freeplay doesn’t employ anyone full-time at the moment - but it sees a small hive of activity around our calendar of events every year. It’s crucial for getting stuff done, and for being in the right place at the right time. You see, this desk is in the Wheeler Centre, one of Australia’s major cultural hubs - it’s where the Melbourne Writers Festival, the Emerging Writers Festival, Express Media, and the City of Literature Office live. It’s where stuff happens. We’ve worked with all of these organisations over the years in a variety of ways. Despite ostensibly being about books and literature, these people are really interested in supporting games. Just a few weeks ago, the City of Literature Office, noticing that there was an upcoming State Creative Arts forum coming up and that no-one from the world of video games was attending, bought two tickets for Freeplay and gave them to us, no questions asked, and no reciprocality expected. They did it because they wanted video games to be at the table.

That’s a story we’re hearing more of lately. Video games are back at the table, whether that’s via the recent Senate Inquiry or renewed press attention. Video games tick the in-demand boxes as an innovative, ‘disruptive’ media form.

Last week every resident organisation of the Wheeler Centre had their funding cut by the Australia Council for the Arts. Express Media - an organisation that exists to give young writers a break and a head start - now has no organisational funding. The Emerging Writers Festival - who have run sessions of video game criticism, who have broadcast an interview with an Australian game maker inside their own video game - now has no organisational funding.

The list goes on. It goes on so long it becomes nauseating: sixty-five arts organisations had their funding cut last week. Sixty-five. Many of these will not be able to survive without it. The list is long and varied beyond those already mentioned: Ausdance, Black Arm Band, Cultural Partnerships Australia, Meanjin Literary Journal (something that has been funded since 1961), the National Association for the Visual Arts, and Red Stitch Actors' Theatre, just to name a few more.

The Next Wave Festival was also defunded. This is extra important because Next Wave actually created Freeplay in 2004 and ran it for its first three festivals. It is no overstatement to say that without Next Wave, Freeplay would not exist. Without Next Wave, Australia would not have been able to begin an Independent Games Festival while the rest of the world scratched their heads and wondered if it was even possible. This stuff has a measurable impact on Australian games culture.

Although maybe we’d like to think that we’re self-sufficient, Australian video game culture doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Every Australian game, every local studio has deep ties to the way that Australia is a creative country in ways that very few people realise. It goes back right to the start - Beam Software, Australia’s very first game development company, was actually founded as part of a book publishing house. The whole Australian video game industry was in effect kickstarted by writers.

Australia’s thriving arts community has helped make our video games industry what it is. It’s shown game makers that creativity and critical thinking are the keys to success, that we don’t always have to follow the international model, that there are always other ways to make video games, that we can create and hit our own standards and goals. It’s this kind of context that has made our industry the envy of the world - creative, intelligent, and unwilling to lie down and take bad news without a fight.

Australia’s biggest cultural institutions - the orchestras, the theatre companies - are still okay for the time being. What this looks like instead is all support being pulled like fraying twine away from the organisations meant to help young people.

If Australia’s young people are locked out of arts and culture like this, then video games will be all the worse for it. We may be - as the recent Senate Inquiry into the future of the Australian Games Industry reported - an agile, innovative industry that should be on the government’s agenda. But that doesn’t mean that we can exist by ourselves. In the best-case scenario, in a future where Australian video games thrive, this still means a nation where there are fewer collaborators, fewer writers, fewer critics, fewer artists, and fewer mentors to make Australian video games great.

We’d be collateral damage, left as an exciting industry stuck in a culture-less nation. Maybe the Freeplay desk would still get use, but it would be work done in an empty building. There’s no point in growing an Australian games industry that isn’t also part of a thriving cultural community.

We do, of course, have the chance to change that - a chance to help our friends in the writing, theatre, and creative communities. The Australian games industry, as we know, votes. We should tell our politicians that our arts and culture are more important than ever.



Comments

    I am being 100% honest here.. i have never heard of Freeplay at all. I dont think ive ever seen it talked about here or on PC gamer, IGN or Gamespot either for that matter.

    Last edited 16/05/16 11:10 am

      Same for me...I've heard of the Independent Games Festival but that's it from what's been listed here.

      I live in SA which might make a difference...we have little/no games industry here.

      Gotta say, I'm right there with you on this.

      Aside from the Rooster Teeth show with the same name I've never heard of anything else called 'Freeplay'.

      If you haven't heard of Freeplay, it is very likely you haven't seriously considering game development. If you did, it would be one of the very first things you'd have stumbled upon as you researched how to proceed. In other words, you haven't seen anything related to it, it's not because it is not popular or important, but because you've not looked in its direction.

        Fair summary. Like a lot of the organisations listed, they are more important within the industry than outside. You dont need to see the gears that make things work, but they still need to be there.

        Its a shame the short sightedness has reduced funding for so many organisations. Things like this impact on our community for years or decades before theres some level of normal again. And most people wont even notice.

        Locally where I live, we're fortunate that the local council is somewhat proactive for the arts. They have a youth centre, the back wall of which is a graffiti paradise, getting painted over every couple of months, and in our main mall, builders construction hoardings are often painted with some topical content or another. There was a giant David Bowie mural put up a few days after his death for example.

        But thats just locally. Its sad that the Federal government has deemed the arts not significant enough to get even minor funding. Funding that isnt going to fundamentally change the budget, but could have such an impact in so many other ways.

    Unfortunately you can't spend money on everything, especially in times of recession. Thus when funding needs to be cut somewhere, I think most can reconcile the fact that arts and cultural organisations are the ones first in the firing line. "War" might be a slight exaggeration.

      We're not in a time of recession, though.

        If we're not in a recession then tell me why we are seeing cuts to funding the arts, community services, education, and health?

          Because of our moronic, short sighted, old boys club Liberal National Party Government.

          Because we have a government who would rather give tax cuts to the rich and large corporations than spend money on those things.

          Recession is not defined by government spending or government debt. It's defined by growth in the overall economy - as measured by GDP (Gross Domestic Product). Our GDP has been growing constantly since the late 90s.

          Because we are under a conservative goverment?

          It's a standard MO of a conservative government to always shift its focus on "less spending" and "more investment" ie. cut back on funding and increase tax cut backs.

          Both are burdens on the government purse btw... it's just one looks worse because it pops up as a negative whilst the other is for all intents an purposes also a loss but less obvious because the loss isn't recorded as a expenditure but crops up as a loss of income. One you can actively maintain and market the other you can't see the effect until later along when the government says "oh we're not earning enough"

          Mind you BOTH do have their uses in increasing our economy as well funding for projects is just as productivity increasing as cutbacks... it's who you target such strategies that makes the difference.

      Um, a recession is also exactly when the government needs to spend the money. The fact is that the mania for a balanced government budget is what caused the economic downturn. The only reason the Howard government managed a surplus is from the huge credit binge which led to the GFC.

      If you want to avoid a recession you don't actually reduce spending, you increase it. recessions are just people not having any money to spend, people don't spend money when they don't have any money, and poor people spend more of their money (proportionally) than rich people, therefore spending money on the poor actually boosts the economy. tax cuts to the wealthy actively harm the economy as a whole. trickle down economics or Raganomics have been disproven time and time again.

      However you are right, you can't spend money on everything, A good place to stop spending money is in tax cuts for the rich, negative gearing, tax havens, tax loop holes and instead investing in the technologies, arts and cultures of the future.

    I'd definitely heard of freeplay & I've spoken at it a couple of times. It's big in melbourne organising events and talks and discussion. I think stuff like freeplay is really what makes the difference between the melbourne and sydney games scenes -- why is the melbourne scene so interwoven? Why so many studios? Why did pax choose to go to melbourne over sydney? -- it was because organisations like freeplay and stuff like hovergarden had already done the ground work, bringing devs and fans together, highlighting games, showcasing new ideas.

    Whether you have or have not heard about Freeplay is on you. Not the author of this piece, nor the people involved Freeplay since 04.

    I do agree in part with Dan's assertions but 'it reads' (apologies for using that phrase) like what others are alluding to - a little bit closed-in, state-centric.

    I don't think Victorian based initiatives like the ones Dan's mentioned are concerned with fighting the good fight on a national (or larger) scale outside of their tiny microcosms, yet the gaming scene wants to be world-beaters yet intimate and diverse as well. Simultaneously.

    I cannot stand Penny Arcade for example, never liked them - but I recognise what PAX has been able to accomplish for video-games in this country on a national scale, even though it's only ever apparently going to be in Melbourne during the most expensive time TO GO TO MELBOURNE.

    I've ranted and complained about this before, but I'll say it again: the local games industry is compromised by factors within it moreso than factors outside of it.

    Last edited 16/05/16 11:38 am

      I both agree and disagree with what you say here.

      Firstly, I'm not a fan of Penny Arcade or their work outside of the conventions either. BUT, like you mentioned the event they have been running here for the last few years has done wonders for the national and local industry, as well as the Melbourne tourism industry. I say this as a member of the industry, a consumer and as a PAX contributor the last 2 years.

      I disagree with what you say about the industry being compromised from within, more than it is from the outside. Granted this industry does have issues stemming from internal factors, but certainly not significantly more than any other part of the tech industry.

      After the GFC Australia was left with almost no AA or AAA studios, forcing the local talent to change industries or move to other countries in search of income. This left a great hole in the local industry, the effects of which are still felt today.

      Within the Melbourne scene you have a number of dedicated individuals and groups attempting to foster and support the developer community as it figures out what it is and how it can survive in the new post GFC world. Many of the problems we face are caused by external factors, such as a lack of support from government (although what we do have is a great start), a lack of expertise that can be sourced locally (I am actively involved in hiring of developers in Melbourne and can certainly say it is an ongoing challenge to find skilled workers to fill critical senior roles) and a lack of infrastructure that supports competitive development procedures and turn around schedules when working with international publishers.

      Australia is not the most conducive place to run and grow a video game development business. It's not impossible by any means, but there are many hurdles to overcome, many of which are caused by external factors.

      I don't say any of this assuming you're not already aware of it, more as a point of discussion as I'd love to have my views challenged on this matter. Thanks for the thought provoking comment thus far.

    Right, so in a time where our country's in debt and there's more pressure than ever on business, a bunch of artists getting tax payer dollars taken away constitutes "War on arts". Everything from video games to books is mostly just entertainment. If these things go under without government funding, doesn't that mean that no one wants them enough to pay for them? I have a good friend who's an artist. He works like a dog to churn out landscape paintings (that he personally hates) that sell and uses this to support painting things that he considers enjoyable and/or meaningful. He receives precisely 0 tax payer dollars, and doesn't fucking gripe because he makes something people want.

    My accountant told me the other day that we should lay off half our staff. Fucking half! Just to remain afloat. Is this part of the great Australian war on small business electrical manufacturers? No, it's the reality that most of the world deals with when they have to actually make money for a living. Get a fucking grip mate. What makes these guys more worthy than my blokes who won't be getting any handout other than unemployment benefit?

      It doesn't have to be a competitive thing though- there's nothing that says the government can't fund arts AND "your blokes."

      Arts is supported in pretty much every country in the world by public funding, and the way people "make a living" has been through grants. These grants are intended to establish the artists who can THEN make works that are independently profitable, but I still think that's too utilitarian a view of the value of arts.

        There's plenty that says that they can't fund both. The fact they don't have any money and we can't afford it is a good start. Then there's also the fact that I don't think they should, though I suspect we may have an ideological difference here.

        I've never really bought this whole arts as a protected thing deserving of tax payer dollars by virtue of its supposed societal value. It is an indulgence and a luxury. Some art is valuable for sure, but I can point to many grants that have gone to stuff that we sure as shit don't need. My point is that it's fine to indulge when the times are good, but fuck me am I sick of writers/painters/scultpers and whoever else crying about some sort of war against them when tax dollars get taken away and they're suddenly in the same world as the rest of the schmos.

        Perhaps this is a somewhat utilitarian view of the arts. At the moment I'm trying to see if I can justify buying Overwatch at retail price and trying to figure out how I can sort enough work to keep some people employed. It's difficult for me to see why my business getting a tax break (which would directly contribute to me keeping more staff) is somehow frowned upon, but these guys getting tax dollars removed constitutes a war, like it's some kind of evil government vendetta against them. Maybe it's time to be a bit more utilitarian until times are better?

          But by the time things are better, there'll be nothing left, and we'll have saved an economy at the expense of a culture.

          Look, I get it- I work in small business development, and it's a shit time in a lot of industries. I just don't think we can't have both. The arts budget isn't huge in the grand scheme of things that the government pay for, and I don't think everything the government does has to have the sole benefit of improving the economy.

            I don't see it that way. Arts will continue to exist. At no point in history has culture just died, at least not without the civilisation itself packing up shop. People will paint, scultpers will sculpt.

            Maybe not. I'll iterate again that my problem is more with the attitude than the money itself. In the good times, it's pretty easy to cop it tbh, I never used to be bothered by stuff like this. In the hard times I resent hearing how tax money should be given to people and taken from others because one group's work "enriches society".

              But we make that choice all the time. We support industries in any number of ways- R&D incentives, tax rebates on specific capital acquisitions, supporting training in targeted industries.

              And arts will, of course, continue to exist in some form, but we lose a lot whenever we cut back. In SA this week they've premiered an Opera based on the Australian book Cloudstreet (itself written with the support of grants and awards that are government funded, and now considered a key piece of AUstralian literature). This work probably has the potential to be exported overseas, and be a key flagship of Australian opera (and make a lot of money) but it couldn't have gotten to this point without extensive support. in an era with no support from the govt, who's going to fund new operas? Even if they're reasonably sure-fire as one based on a popular novel?

              That's what we lose, because the most economic thing to do would be just to put on a production of Cats and be done with it. We can only take these risks through a funded arts sector.

            But by the time things are better, there'll be nothing left, and we'll have saved an economy at the expense of a culture.

            ...

            Holy fucking hyperbole. Artists will still do work - if they enjoy it they'll find time for it as a hobby. They might just need to do some other work to get by in the interim. You won't loose any culture by fostering a healthy economy - i'd argue that you'd get the exact opposite effect (eventually more funds for more full time artistic\cultural endeavors).

              You can't just turn "arts" on and off like a tap though, and when we relegate it to hobby status we're just devaluing it further. Are we to expect that we can produce world class filmmakers if they can't get funding to make films here?

              In terms of other work to get by, it's a small minority of artists that get anything as much as a part-time income out of the products of their art. By reducing arts funding, you're squeezing this small group even further.

                Not arguing the validity of it. Just your hyperbole comment. Art and culture will continue as long as people have a passion for it - it's at no risk of disappearing due to lack of funding.

                  OF course it will continue...

                  But you've hit *LOCAL* growth in the process...which was the whole point of the "hyperbole" In the same way most IT professionals now tend to go overseas you're going to get less interest in art, films and games locally.

                  Passion can only sustain an industry for so long when you don't support it locally... I mean can you honestly say we would have a decent presence in the Indie gaming scene of Victoria didn't give the industry a life line back then?

                  I mean why create a film here when they can get much better support in say Canada, Montreal? Why start up an IT firm here when Silicon Valley has better taxes and support?

                  Funding is always a balance... sure you could just cut off "arts" as a small unnecessary expenditure but at the same time it's one of those small investments big return industries. Keep it alive and it will pay for itself in dividends. No one is asking for massive "handouts" ala mining here... just money to keep it alive.

                  I mean if we can afford to loose *millions* of lost income from tax cuts to businesses in the attempt to stimulate growth what's wrong w/ the opposite end of that approach and giving a small amount of funding to arts/entertainment? Something we also know has the capacity to make millions of dollars as well as the added bonus of contributing to "arts"?

                  @rock_m

                  Yer most of your post is a strawman - i'm not arguing any of that. Personally i have no opinion on whether it should/shouldn't be funded i don't have enough information or experience to make that call.

                  Saying that culture will die without it tho - yer i got an opinion on that - that is absolute hyperbole it won't die off.

          Your basic assertion is wrong, descent303, because a sovereign fiat currency is only limited by the real resources available to a country. How can the government, which creates all the money, have no money? Money is the scoreboard.

          Since we dropped the gold standard back in the 70's, government debt became obsolete, but because there's rich investors wanting a safe return on a risk-free portfolio it never went away. It's basically corporate welfare, and the credit ratings agencies (who did such a good job in the GFC /s) and mainstream media perpetuate the myth.

          There is an overall lack of demand in the Australian economy because of the looming threat of unemployment over so many heads. Households are saving and not taking on any more credit. State governments are in the same situation as households, unfortunately, and they are dependant on the Federal government for funding.

          The Federal government can fund both. The idealogical difference is they won't fund either (usually trumpeting something like 'free market good, unions bad'). But unless there is full employment (2% unemployment is the usual mark), government spending is inadequate.

          Funnily enough, entertainment industries thrive in times of hardship. Hell, film and TV was born off the back of the great depression and two major world wars. If anything people invest more in distraction when times are tough, but I wonder where the scales tip. I feel like a perceived economic downturn doesn't yield the same results that world wars gave us. Just an interesting thought however.

          It's certainly not a war, that's a good headline, but the government isn't out to get the arts and I say that from within the entertainment industry. I think the arts should be looked at the same as any other industry. It isn't more deserving of tax dollars than any other industry should be by default, but the value of it's creations should be looked at on a case by case basis. Be that artistic merit of the media it's self, or value in the business brought to Aus through the creation of that media.

          I feel like a lot of why we within the video game development industry see ourselves worthy of greater tax payer investment, lies in the fact that video game revenue has been on a steep increase for a long time, with no signs of slowing down in the future. Emerging and immature industries that will continue to be powerhouses deserve investment now to secure a fruitful future for Australia. If the government could get it's mitts out of coal and mining industries and look to the future of renewable energies and entertainment products, perhaps we might start getting somewhere.

      There are plenty of things in societies that provide benefits without having an obvious business model. Often it's because the benefit they provide is not something you can package up & sell, or because it's indirect. Arts orgs that foster the more experimental & niches arts that in turn inspire & stimulate the commercial, mainstream arts is one of them. They provide a benefit to the entertainment scene as a whole, but not one that can be easily packaged and sold.

      I work more in the commercial arts, producing stuff for clients. But my work is enabled by groups like freeplay. In some ways I consider them a kind of industrial stimulus, and definitely something a government should fund, because it gives back more to the industry than it takes in funding.

      What makes these guys more worthy than my blokes who won't be getting any handout other than unemployment benefit?

      Because a lot of the things which serve society and enrich it don't make for viable profit-generating businesses.

      That's why our health-care - state-funded - is so much better than the US's entirely for-profit scheme, where 'state funding' basically means getting people onto an insurer within the entire for-profit ecosystem.

      Probably the most insulting part about these cuts is that they didn't have to be cut. We're talking about a cultural program costing mere millions, here, being used to pay for... what? We're also restricting medicare, so it's not health... oh, that's right: $48 BILLION in reduced corporate taxes.

      If those titans of industry could stomach the thought of 'only' getting a $47 BILLION gift instead of a $48 BILLION gift, the arts funding could've been fucking doubled with the difference instead of cut outright.
      It's fucking pocket change by comparison.

        This is the attitude that bothers me.

        Business getting to keep 47 billion dollars more of the money it generated is a gift.

        Arts getting less of the money that business generated is a war.

        Health care is different in my view (I worked as a paramedic for several years just as point of reference). People shouldn't be allowed to die or suffer in sickness due to poor choices. Our healthcare system is fucked (on the verge of collapse in many parts according to some people I know), it's rorted and full of waste. However, I'm ok with that (more or less), because I don't want people to die for their mistakes.

        I don't put art on the same level as health or public safety. Like I said, arts is an indulgence, people don't die if we don't have a dumpster wrapped in lights. People do buy entertainment, there are plenty of successful artists, comedians and game designers, even in the tough times.

        A tax break to business is actually good for our economy and keeps people employed.
        If you want to argue that these people enrich society, then make that case. Show me how. I don't think it can be stated as fact as if being an artist is in itself a virtue. Units that I make keep the lights on in hospitals. Is that not enriching society? Is that less noble than writing a book? And therefore I must hand over my dollars to the writer? In the good times I'll probably just cop that and shrug my shoulders. In the bad times (these are bad times for my business at least, worst year I can remember so far), I just won't cop the whole "war" business.

          I'm having difficulty in telling if you're just being contrary and wilfully ignoring crucial aspects of the importance of commercially non-viable art for the sake of clinging to your point, or if you genuinely do not understand.

          Either way, the most important part here is impact, which you seem to have missed.

          GUTTING the arts saved a minute fraction of the boon that businesses are getting. Corporate, mind you, not SMB. $100M for the arts, $48,000M for business.

          BUSINESS ONLY HAD TO SACRIFICE A 0.2% CUT ON THE CUT THEY ARE NOW GETTING TO SAVE ALL OF THOSE PROJECTS.

          THEY WOULD STILL BE 99.8% BETTER OFF, AND NO ARTS PROGRAMS WOULD HAVE TO SHUT DOWN.

          Do you have any concept of how fucking petty and greedy that is?

          When someone would rather see the arts burn for the sake of 0.2% improvement in their condition, it is less a metaphorical 'war' and a lot more like a metaphorical war crime.

          Last edited 16/05/16 1:42 pm

            "I'm having difficulty in telling if you're just being contrary and wilfully ignoring crucial aspects of the importance of commercially non-viable art for the sake of clinging to your point, or if you genuinely do not understand."

            Frankly, I resent the implication that I must be dishonest or stupid to disagree with you.

            In any case, My issue (as I've stated from the start), is more to do with the attitude than the actual dollars. I think things have to be done on their merits, not on the dollar value, otherwise you could make endless better cases than art. Couldn't we sacrifice art to fund cancer research? Just give up half the money and we can probably save lives.

            Like I said before as well, you aren't gutting arts to give money to business. You are giving less money to arts to let business keep more of what they earned. I can show you what we gain by doing this. You'd rather insult me (and other so called greedy businesses) than illustrate what we lose.

            Unfortunately, what you've said here is more or less in line with what I believed to be the problem. If I question the intrinsic value of art then I must be dishonest or stupid. No case is made, this is just so. The artists themselves are just entitled to the money due to the enriching work they do.

            The department of Communication and the Arts still has a budget of something like 2500 million dollars, so it's not like even I have advocated defunding all art. I just resent the entitlement culture that I feel's developing in the arts world. As someone who just makes stuff for a living it gets you feeling more and more like a Ragusnik.

              No-one is equating life-saving sciences with arts.
              No-one is begrudging the $98+ billion spent on health and asking for it to be spent on arts.

              And you are ignoring proportion and impact. Again. What else CAN you call that?

              Last edited 16/05/16 5:11 pm

              I think that's the problem here...

              For you personally "arts" has lower "merits" than other industries. Which is fine. Everyone has varying levels of what they perceive as less important in society. You are however also doing the flipside of what you are accusing everyone of. ie. devalueing the impact of the funding in exchange of the tax cuts.

              Both have places in an economy. It's about proportions as Transientmind has said. If you do the maths the amount of money we loose due to tax cuts is value a lot more than the actual money *spent* for such initiatives. The main difference though? How they end up on the books... funding is always seen as an immediate loss because its an expenditure. Tax cuts isn't listed because it's a loss of *income* and yet *BOTH* have the same effect. Both for positives and negatives... you won't feel the effect until later on. In tax cuts case when you try and calculate your next income in funding how much of a return the investment has made.

              And that's the crux here.. both are *valid* investments. It's not "entitlement". Both *will* end up producing money in the long run hence the term "investment". The issue is how you look at it on the books. For a small pittance you are expecting greater returns later on (arts). At the same time that for that small hit in income you are expecting the business growth to counteract that lost income (tax cuts).

              I personally don't see it in terms of wars vs gifts. It's how you look at it from an accounting perspective. A lot of folks get up in arms when they see a new tax (an expenditure) as opposed to not noticing when the value of their money has gone down (ie. decreased income) until they go to spend and realise they can purchase less.

          So you pretty much are saying that someone who has decided to take up art as there passion should just deal with it and go work a trade job instead?

          You talk about people keeping their jobs, what about the thousands of people who can't get jobs in the first place?

          I've recently finished uni (Film and TV degree, so yeah, i'm one of these artists that apparently have no worth in society) and now i get told that no one is looking for new graduates, and they only want experienced workers.

          It's not just arts that is suffering it, pretty much everyone (including tradies) can't find jobs, i've got plenty of friends from all walks of life who can't even get a job or apprenticeships it's that bad.

          You act as if arts just means "someone painting a picture" but it is much more than that. Funding arts means funding TV, Radio, Film, Galleries and video games. The amount of people involved in those things is more than just "The writer" and "the painter." In fact, there's a lot of jobs in Film and TV that go towards electrical people like yourself. Sets need wiring, construction and dismantling, stuff an artist couldn't do.

          There's a reason why at the end of a movie you'll usually see a message that says "The production of this movie has supported over X jobs and Y work hours." This is because there is a shit ton of work that goes into movies, and it does help the economy more than you think, and because arts is always on the firing line we have to prove to people we are worth keeping.

          As the other guys have said, i'm sorry for your companies troubles, and i wish the best for you and your employees, being unemployed sucks, i'm working a casual job just to make ends meet, and i can barely afford it. I can't go back to uni and spend another 4 years racking up more debt, and i can't afford to get an apprenticeship and not be paid for doing work, and thats if i could ever get an apprenticeship. All i'm saying is, have a bit of sympathy for the artist, because they are going through the same shit that your employees are going through.

            That's a bummer man. I'm probably about done here. I'm about done with being accused of things I didn't say to be honest, but before that I'll try once again to illustrate the point that I was trying to make.

            I don't wish any artist a lack of success. More power to them.

            I'm happy with giving money to the cause of giving a leg up to people. Arts would not be the only area in which we do this.

            Again, it's the attitude that bites. Giving less to art = war. Taking less from others (I guess you can read this as me haha) = a gift. If I argue that this is unfair... well, look at the comments here. I'm certainly the bad guy at any rate. Perhaps I've been a bit more callous than I would normally be. But it's honestly tough to hear people complain that there is a war against them (an actual war!).. when they're being given less (not none) money, during a time when I have so little money flowing that I will actually have to let half my staff go. Most people who run a business do actually give a fuck about their employees, and feel responsible for their welfare. If I were to able to keep more of the money we generated (not be given some from others.. just keep) I would be able to keep more staff. Sadly the work they do has no intrinsic value and does not contribute to society, so they must seek employment elsewhere after June (well, unless we get really lucky.. fingers crossed).

            Good luck to you as well mate.

          Tax cuts to companies has been proved to NOT generate jobs.
          They don't get a tax cut and turn it into more wages so people can do less work. Companies minimise every single expense to make MAX profits for SHAREHOLDERS and nothing more.

          At the end of the day low skill jobs are being replaced with automation. If Government doesn't develop other industries, eg video game development then we will become the Banana Republic Keating warned us about.
          No one hires an electrician when they don't have a job anymore. Loosing tax revenue from companies that have minimised tax a shit-tonne is not good for any economy.
          It also is not a cut for small business so I don't know why you are getting so riled up. Small business pays most of the tax, maybe the should get a cut? I think so but I also don't know a single sole trader who doesn't deal in cash and tax dodge like a hypocrite. (I work in a bank btw)

      I'm sorry to hear that your company is having difficulties but that's no reason to wish difficulties upon everybody. Artists and the such are demonstrably and historically paid well below average unless they manage to go mainstream, which is a combination (or selection) of genius, luck and marketing savvy that only an insignificant percentage of the whole attain. That's why arts have always needed funding: to entice young generations into a path onto which they otherwise would risk literal starvation. You present the case of your friend the painter. So he has to kill himself doing work that he hates just so he can eat and maybe in whatever free time pursue his own projects? Great! right? What a great life, uh? And according to you, the life that every artist should follow.

      Do you understand funding, anyway? It is not a fat teat from which artists can perpetually suckle to remain in comfortable lifestyle while they think their little ideas or whatever. They are aids meant only to start you and by no means in any station of comfort: they barely cover materials and other work-related expenses, not your time and effort, and still, you are barely scrapping by.

      Lastly, do you do the correlating part of the scheme that you propose? If artists are supposed to wing it by themselves to put their work out there without any aid or guarantee of salary, do you patron such art at its proper value? When you see an independent game you go " oh man, look at this passionate effort by an independent maker scrapping by valiantly on their own, here's my money, very well deserved by you"? Or do you go "eh, I'll wait until it's reduced 85% in a Steam sale"? Be honest.

        I don't wish anything of the kind on people, and never said so. I wish them all the success in the world if they can get it. I won't cop that it's a war on them when tax payer dollars don't help them achieve this.

        Flatly, yes I do think he should have to do work he doesn't love to get by if that's what sells (and so does he FYI. I don't see what's wrong with this. I have to do things that are hard and unpleasant as well, doesn't everyone?

        Mate, I've got fuck all disposable income at the moment. I haven't actually bought a game since rebel galaxy. An independent game that I bought at full price (actually I lie, I bought darksiders on sale for like 4 bucks recently). Not this has anything to do with it. This more or less goes to my point. Why is it wrong that games work in a market like the rest of the world?

          I'm not saying that artists should not work hard or never do unpleasant things, we all do. But the artistic things with true value, those that we really appreciate as cultural output? Those require all heart and all work and all passion. If an artist has to spend all their time in creating almost mass-produce soulless stuff just to eat , not having time or energy to pour into something of significance, that's a loss for us as society. Perhaps you cannot see it or appreciate it as you seem to be the kind of person who believes that one swing of a hammer is inherently more valuable than one stroke of a brush, ignoring the massive power of art throughout history to record, influence and improve the life of people.

          Again, a fund is not replacing a salary, in the comparison you are making for the people that you are having to let go. It is a tiny investment, a carrot on a stick meant to encourage promising youth into a path that, other than personal satisfaction, is very likely not to be rewarding. Once they get started, they are on their own! No more funds, no salary, only supported by their own effort. And you'd take from them that very first aid? What would happen is not, as you seem to think, that lazy artists will have to roll their sleeves and work hard (they already do, believe it or not!), but that the next generation will attract less new artists. As I said above, for you that might not be a loss, but for anybody with concerns about humanity and society as a whole will be a big tragedy.

          And last.... games are already in the market, what are you talking about? No one is coddling independent game-makers (beyond that initial spark of investment) away from the market and directly into the consumers' hands. They have to compete like everybody else, with much less capital, PR budget, resources and contacts in the very same market of the AAA studios.

            Again you misunderstand my point and reinforce it.

            " it as you seem to be the kind of person who believes that one swing of a hammer is inherently more valuable than one stroke of a brush, ignoring the massive power of art throughout history to record, influence and improve the life of people."

            Yes, I must be a philistine with no appreciation for the arts. The irony here is that it is in fact all the people here who are arguing that the brush is inherently more valuable than the hammer. That only my work should live or die on it's merit, but money must be given to the arts due to their intrinsic and vital contribution to society.

            I think neither has intrinsic value. I follow very much the Grayson Perry school of thinking when it comes to art appreciation.

            Never said anything about artists being lazy. It's the entitlement that gets me. The idea that during a tough time for the whole country, a redistribution of some tax payer funds constitutes a war on art.

            Oh and in reference to games. You seemed to be implying there was something wrong with waiting for a game to be on special before buying it. I was saying this is fine in my view.

            Last edited 16/05/16 2:58 pm

              I'm with you in that neither the hammer or the brush are inherently superior to the other. Both are important for society in very different ways. The problem is that you resent artists getting a tiny aid once or twice during their lives to get them started while missing the fact that your normal artist will generate in average, way less income during their lifetime than anyone with a quantifiable job that incurs in expected remuneration.

              Let's take two recent graduates, let's say one bachelor of arts and the other an IT engineer. The IT engineer's first steps will likely be doing an unpaid internship while acquiring experience and trying to get an entry level job. Meanwhile, the artist, if resourceful and talented (and lucky, needs to be said) landed a small grant from a funded association to get their first project out of the door. So far, anybody will agree with you: the artist got a significant (you'd say "unfair") advantage over the engineer. But what happens next? The engineer will eventually land a job and start getting paid, regularly and reliably immediately. The artist? Well hopefully their initial project was awarded or gathered enough public attention... but that's not going to put bread on his table right away. He has to keep creating and putting their stuff out there while trying to figure ways to monetise their time and effort, all of this without a guarantee of income at any point!

              Eventually the artist will become good and savvy enough to generate some sort of reliable income, but you can bet that more times than not, that income will be significantly lower to that of the engineer with no very big expectations of a "raise" nor bonuses, nor superannuation. Moreover, the engineer is dealing with quantifiable absolutes. As long as he manages to keep showing that 2 = 2, he's entitled to the money awarded to his position. An artist? Whenever they create something they have to hope that their customers won't go "eh, it's pretty and all mate, but I don't 'feel' like it costs that much. Tell you what, have half instead but I'll recommend you to a friend, k?" Will you still resent them that little money that the artist got once at the beginning?

              And as for your employees that had to be let go. You can bet that they won't be spending much money on luxuries or entertainment. Any form of art that they were patronising is getting hit by those layoffs as a result! So it's not like the artists are part of a privileged club enjoying benefits while labourers get laid off.

              Last edited 16/05/16 10:28 pm

    I'm not a fan of accusatory remarks or similar abuse towards anybody but it's clear this a very sensitive issue. To all of us.

    You're doing yourselves a dis-service if you turn this into a 'don't feed the comments' situation, read Dan's original remarks again. He's allowed to have his own views here, just like all of you.

    I'm more sad about Meanjin and Co. There goes some of our quality local writing/publishing opportunities.

    Tax cuts to companies has been proved to NOT generate jobs.
    They don't get a tax cut and turn it into more wages so people can do less work. Companies minimise every single expense to make MAX profits for SHAREHOLDERS and nothing more.
    The job generating crap is just political double speak. It is total BS.

    Typical Australian arts mentality. Our product isn't good enough for people to actually buy in a free market, so the problem must be the market, not the product. Clearly a handout is in order. 😩

    All the people talking here are missing the point. The arts affect the culture and personality of a city. This in turn greatly effects tourism, people travel across the globe spend money on cafes and hotels and many other businesses because of art communities hosting big events that align with peoples interests. It helps the economy in ways that are unseen. How can we attract and retain profitable businesses and talented people? A key component of such efforts — and one that’s often mislabeled an “amenity” —is arts and culture.

    Creative businesses play a huge part in the in The economy. These businesses comprise the arts, design, digital media and other fields that utilize a creative workforce. Many of these professionals beginning there careers start with small events funded by this money being cut. it only hurts the country in the long run weather you think art is completely useless or not

    Will it be released for Linux though? It's great that the AAA devs are interested in Vulkan; this is what I've been waiting to see. Though, I will only buy it legally if it comes to Linux. I won't buy Windows games.

    I think Vulkan is the best news here. It'll spur other devs, Indie or not, to use it; thus increasing the odds of Linux ports at the very least.

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