Money to create art always seems to be synonymous with finding a needle in a haystack and most of the dialogue that usually comes to the forefront is where and how will this money be obtained, however Gamerman’s article tackles the aftermath of being awarded funding for a creative endeavor. “In 2014, Kill Climate Deniers received over $18,000 AUD in development funding from Arts ACT, the arts funding body for Australian Capital Territory,” in which David Finnigan, the playwright, “presents a researched and cogent argument about the politics of environmental policy and the science behind global warming.” Although somewhat scattered due to the uncertainty of Finnigan’s situation, Gamerman is able to bring forth questions centering around the allocation of funding towards the arts.
The funding that was awarded towards the creation and production of Finnigan’s project was called into question by Andrew Bolt, a conservative commentator, who condemned the project without having access to it which commenced a slew of other critics and commentators condemning the unfinished work. Although the crux of the article enters around the predicament that Finnigan faces, Gamerman’s comparison between the response Finnigan has received and an American comparison:
“What happened in the last seventy years to make American playwrights lose their status as dangerous and worthy of governmental inquiry or acknowledgment? Have we dismantled the mechanism that would allow for a playwright to have an impact large enough to warrant a comment from congress? Have we stopped believing in the ability of theatre to affect public opinion or social change? Or is fear of art’s power to illicit social change exactly the thing that keeps our government from funding enough of it? Do we believe that artists should be paid a living wage? If so, should the federal government contribute?”
These are the questions that I was left wrestling with as I walked away from Gamerman’s article. The article stresses that government funding “helps to support the arts in regional communities, Indigenous artists, young people, people who don’t have access to money or infrastructure” giving them a voice within the system. Perhaps it’s my ignorance of American funding towards the arts that fuels the need to stress the questions Gamerman poses. Perhaps the American government fails to see the vital nature of a nation’s cultural expression through the arts and how that failure has stunted (certainly not killed) the power of artistic expression to affect public opinion or illicit social change. Or perhaps the American government is knowingly making cuts to arts funding to diminish that power.
Regardless, Finnigan still has the funding that was awarded to him and intends to complete his project, whether or not the criticism and condemnation of his work persists. Also of note is how Finnigan perceives the atmosphere American artists face: “My impression of the USA is that if you want to work professionally as an artist, there are only a very small number of cities where you can really hope to do so, and all of those cities are expensive to live in, which means artistic success is limited to people who are already somewhat financially affluent.Which limits the diversity of voices and ultimately makes for less interesting work.”