The Cost of Art

Growing up we are flooded with advice from elders who want us to learn from their mistakes instead of making them ourselves. If you love what you do, youll never work a day in your life springs to mind. On the surface, it seems kind and reassuring that someone wants us to have the best life possible and a stumble-free career path. These statements encouraging us to follow our hearts, hopes and dreams contrast with both our parents and societies demands constantly reminding us of reality; everything costs money. The financial pressures to rent and/or buy a home, settle down and be independent are imminent and the financial burdens are often heavier if you’ve chosen to pursue a career in the arts.

The term art is in no way limited to paint on a canvas but instead extends from literature, history and journalism to design, textiles, photography and multimedia. Studying these disciplines propel people towards jobs including fiction and non-fiction writing, graphic and web design, advertising, fashion consulting, architecture and photo journalism. Achievement and employment across the majority of these disciplines is based on experience showcased in a portfolio of work. To create a portfolio requires countless hours, relentless effort, resources and is all at the cost of the creator. Before forming a portfolio, the creative individual has to purchase equipment, develop skills in their chosen field and have the motivation to pursue the career. In the context of each discipline, there is an agreement amongst amateurs to exchange time for product in order to build a portfolio of work. On average, majority of creative careers earn less income in relation to other disciplines that work the same amount of hours. This brings us to the elephant in the room; there is a lack of art funding.

Today, the desire to pursue an arts career leads you to a fork in the road. One path is financially uncertain but it’s where your true passion lies. If you dare to take this path, with determination and dedication, you are guaranteed the freedom to create and the opportunity to meet inspiring, like-minded individuals. However, this path poses the the possibility of sacrificing financial stability if you lose creative motivation. The other path is not exploding with passion but rather uses stability and assurance to lure you in. If you chose to travel along this path, while your job could limit your creativity you have the financial security to pursue other dreams comfortably. There is no right and wrong path. The point is there shouldn’t be a fork in the road; a creative path shouldn’t be feared because of the lack of financial reward. The lack of arts funding is deterring creative minds from studying and pursuing a career in the arts.

So why fund the arts? Simple; art matters. You can’t have a cake without an oven and you can’t have society, identity or culture without art. Given the multicultural nature of Australian society, both visual and written art forms are fundamental methods of communication. Art is multifaceted; it acts as an access point to fill a void between disciplines, is an education tool and is an expression of opinion on a current issue. You don’t need to be a politician to read an opinion piece on politics, likewise, you don’t need to be a historian or an artist to appreciate an ancient Egyptian artefact exhibition. Art gives you these opportunities to explore a world other than your own. Art gives you insight into an area that you are not necessarily an expert in. Art is indispensable because it helps people develop opinions on current issues which cultivates identity. The shirt you are wearing, the music you listen to and the very fact that you’re reading this article is evidence that everyday life and art are intertwined.

In contrast to what people refer to as “more academic careers”, creativity is not constrained by the hours of 9am-5pm, it is constant. The tireless efforts of creative individuals and the unattractive financial incentive discourages people from embarking on a career in the arts. Given how crucial art is to identity and culture, art needs funding to stay alive.


All images sourced from Pinterest

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