VCA debate ~ theatre notes

Thursday, August 20, 2009

VCA debate

In lieu of a post: a pointer to the discussion on TN about the reforms at VCA.


Anonymous said...

The truth is, theatre is like over, its uninteresting – a sham and other stuff. Robert Dessaix is a very lucky guy. Fantasy is also over. The battle has been won as Goddard might say. Better to play tennis or visit a psychiatrist. Or go to stephen cummings show at the butterfly club.

Alison Croggon said...

Whose truths are that? (And do you mean Godard?)

Anonymous said...

Whose truths is that? The people of course – given the funding theatre companies receive and the audiences that attend. Give me a break! What do the bourgeoisie do? Mock the lowly workers about their spelling. Gee, write a poem about an organic fruit shop in Elwood - you dork - you faux fantasy writer.

Alison Croggon said...

Your truths, o brave Anon. Which have precious little to do with facts. I'll leave your last comment up, although if you read the comments policy you'll find that personal abuse and trolling is out here. Any more, I'll just delete.

Matthew said...

Besides which, Godard isn't half as pessimistic as all that.

Alison Croggon said...

Yeah. Pessimism is too easy. But I don't think our anonymous friend is interested in unstapling his dick from his forehead for long enough to have an actual conversation.

Anonymous said...

I am a different anonymous, but in some ways I wonder how the enormous sums handed to theatre companies (not the major performing arts orgs) such as those that just got defunded in the triennial funding rounds mean all that much for the arts?

For instance, not naming names but there is at least one organisation that has a big lump of cash thrown at it each year, doesn't really actually have to do all that much for it - just copy and paste last years application and change a bit of stuff - who employ a full time general manager, a full time ad, a full time administrator, and three part time positions (=1.5 full time) plus rent a space and all that jazz, PLUS pay a book keeper one day a week. Ie; what you get for the funding is before any art is made is at least $300,000 spent on people who get into these jobs and do stuff for their wage.

Now if this company was actually producing as much work as many many countless independent companies are doing, on a fraction of that budget, then I wouldn't complain.

And if the quality of their work or the size of their reach was in line with this level of funding, I again wouldn't complain.

What bothers me is that for over a quarter of a million in ADMINISTRATION the outcomes are simply not there.

The level of flabby waste in this industry is an outrage and this company, like all the rest (including the deceased Melbourne Workers Theatre and Polyglot Puppet Theatre) are simply shells of what they were originally intended to be. They no longer deserve this funding. Yes the artists who work with them do, the administrators who work for them do, but the company itself doesn't. It has moved beyond what it used to be, and just makes up stuff to say how it is still relevant. But the fact is it is no longer relevant.

But now, years later staffed and populated by new faces, who offered a safe job, take that job and the art dies.

In response this comment is to the first anon, to whom I would simply say that the old school is dead, old school theatre is full of dead wood, people with safe jobs and all the benefits and they're hardly going to give that up.

Give me that $300,000 plus the other $500,000 for projects and I'll give $80,000 to ten groups who will make ten projects plus, and reach more audience, more inventively, and employ more people and make far better art than any number of those flabby, lazy, safe jokes that are still there.

The make it new hasn't gone anywhere near far enough. Make it new means destroy it completely in my opinion.

Good night, and good luck.

Alison Croggon said...

Why not make it new and sustain older companies too? Just as a thought. No one is arguing that companies funded with public money ought not to undergo scrutiny (I'd say the arts dollar is the most thoroughly scrutinised of practically all public money). Of course they should. And of course new blood and energy is what sustains a lively culture. But a scorched earth policy is hardly going to create an environment in which art thrives. As I recall, BalletLab was one of the defunded companies... whatever the merits or otherwise of particular companies, that doesn't engender confidence that the right decisions are always being made. And Australia's very good at forgetting its continuities, especially in its theatre history. The "destroy it completely" thing only reinforces that.

And it begs the question: when a new company stops being new, what then? Destroy them completely too? What's the use-by date?

Speaking of course as a unredeemable bourgeoisie who is very sceptical of the seduction of revolution, which mostly means going around in circles. One of the huge problems in our culture is that we have no idea how to sustain artists who have reached their maturity; we fetishise the young and new (which is different from supporting them) and then cast them aside as uninteresting once they're no longer "new". The only way to avoid this is by heading overseas, where experience can be an asset rather than a drawback.

I do agree that the Oz Council could get more creative in thinking about company structures. The bloated admin on some small organisations is in part driven by funding requirements that make such admin obligatory (making it impossible for lean mean companies to get anything more than project to project funding). Maybe in part we need to get more sophisticated in advocating qualitative assessments of art, instead of the usual default market-driven, corporate-driven assessments.

Friend or faux said...

I think he meant Craig Goddard, the actor in the Workcover TV commercial.