Soooooo here we are with life in the pandemic. On the surface, it looks like the arts are one of the many non-essential industries — a benchwarmer — as we scramble to survive. And look, you could say, ‘Yep, fair call, maybe we could stick a ventilator down the throat of an unlucky bugger via the medium of interpretive dance’, but you and I know there’s only one way that scene’s going to end.
Why not talk dirty to pass the time? Surely you’re getting comfortable with being steamy virtually, given the sheer volume of Zoom loving going down?
Let’s talk about the Arts Stimulus Package. The government assistance package with the sauciest title we’ve heard this year. This package features a wad of cash. It’s very small compared to the other wads of cash being flung around. But I’m really not about comparing who’s got a bigger package. So, I’m changing it to something flavoursome — cherry pie (the perks of being a writer!). This cherry-public-money-pie is being sliced into ‘grants’. These grants grant your wishes for money and resources to make cool art stuff, rather than you having to pimp yourself out on the Internet.
These grants grant your wishes for money and resources to make cool art stuff
The money is sometimes distributed by the government, or sometimes not-for-profit organisations like Regional Arts Vic (RAV). So you find whoever has your slice of the pie, and who you need to talk to, to get a bite. They might say to us artists, “Hey y’all, we gots the money, but like going to the toilet — the job’s not done ‘til ya finish the paperwork.”
The process should go:
“Cool! On ya. Thanks! I’d love to smack my lips around that cherry-public-money-pie to create that really random cool art project I’ve wanted to do for ages. Let me wipe the form clean with my awesome idea.”
You hit send and bam! The money hits your bank account within a couple of days so that you get to make awesome art, which is great timing because we’re living the COVID life right now and times are cray cray.
But this is taxpayers’ money distributed through an archaic process, systematically steeped in bureaucracy, with hundreds of artists competing over the same slice of pie.
Instead, let’s rewind and try the procedure again. This time with a more realistic perspective of what’s happening: let’s talk about the Arts Stimulus Package, aka the sliced-up cherry pie being given away.
Firstly, you have to know this cherry pie is out of the oven, ready to be served. Secondly, you have to know about RAV or Creative Victoria. Now, there isn’t time to hang back. Be confident and forthright, quickly approach the cherry pie before every other artist snatches it up.
Thankfully, you’re an eager beaver googling the crap out of all things ‘arts funding’ and have the form.
Awesome, things are happening. You just need to play it cool, do some fancy talking, fill that form and a sweet slice is all yours. Right? WRONG! To fill it out you’re going to have to be ‘eligible’. No cheaters here! You’re going to have to read the guidelines and get consent if you want to enter the fray. At this point, you’ve entered the world of bureaucracy. It’s rough my friend… take a deep breath.
It’s a good time to give your getting-pie-wingman a buzz to see if they have any pick-up lines to help you make the all-or-nothing dash to home base and score! So, pitch your idea and they will give you some honest feedback on your performance, okay?
I’m not going to toss the rule book at you because it is quite boring. Just trust me that you need to read it while thinking of your happy place. Because if you don’t and make the dash… you’ll get smacked in the face and called out. No cherry pie for you! You jumped the gun, skipped the foreplay and everyone had a pretty lousy time. You’ve had a bad time, the panel reviewing your submission had a bad time reading it, and then your wingman will call you saying, ‘That was bad. You should’ve just rung me’.
With nearly every artist wanting — needing — to get hooked up with the Arts Stimulus Package, aka the sweet cherry pie, things are getting steamy. Real steamy. Third-degree burn-ya-face-off steamy. And it’s all decided by a panel who have survived everything the arts world has thrown at them — they’ve seen and done it all. They decide who eats, who starves, and who will help ensure the survival of us, creatives.
When I put it like that, it doesn’t seem like much fun, right!? Does joining the Victorian COVID Cleaning Crew start to sound more sustainable? Maybe. Before COVID, you had more chance of winning the lottery than getting arts funding in Australia.
But fear not my eager creative beastie who’s stuck on third base, fumbling in the dark with things they don’t understand, but still desperately wants to score. This isn’t pre-COVID. This is pandemic life. This Arts Package is very stimulated right now. Scoring is very much in your favour! You don’t really need to know what you’re doing or if it’ll work. In the arts world, this is known as ‘development work’. You have to want to try, experiment, and aim for an opportunity to grow after COVID, this total shitshow.
Before COVID, you had more chance of winning the lottery than getting arts funding in Australia
So, let’s run the scenario one more time: here we are, dealing with life in the pandemic. The Arts Stimulus Package is on every artist’s lips. You’ve heard about it because you’re clever and do your research. You’ve taken my advice and read the guidelines. With that and your wingman’s outstanding support, you’re running for home. The big score… funding.
I can’t guarantee what happens next. But, please know that cheerleader PollyannaR and the arts funding training squad at TOPshelf are on your side regardless. You can survive this. Now, go get some of that cherry pie before it’s all gone and do that crazy art thing you have always wanted to do. BIG love!