Cover Bands of Culture Dominate

It Is Art

Photo by Steve Burke — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Marcus Westbury, festival creator and now the host of Australia’s television show Not Quite Art on ABC, wonders why the “cover bands” of culture receive significantly more funding than the institutions and small organizations devoted to producing new work.

Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, and relayed on our daily Fest News, Westbury frames the cultural funding issue:

…no one seriously goes out of their way to suggest that covers bands are the most vital or important part of the music scene. Why then are covers bands — of the high-culture variety — receiving the bulk of arts funding?”

Westbury is writing about the established orchestras, opera and theatre companies that thrive on presenting classic works, and that receive the bulk of government funding.

As Westbury thrives on finding new work, the question is whether this disparity in funding is at the expense of creating new work: “reward innovation not preservation and vibrancy over bureaucracy.”

Of course, this is a story repeated all over the world — anywhere where prominent institutions of high art receive the funds, while the companies who experiment by introducing new work offer the future.

Still, the divide between the funds and the future isn’t that wide.

Of course government bureaucracies will always do what they do best and what is in their self interest: maintain the status quo.

At the same time, you inspire new work by providing the context of classical work; you inspire innovative work by confronting what was innovative in its own time.

Westbury’s piece should, though, keep the conversations going both in his homeland of Australia, and in yours.

Want a quick look at platforms for new work? Check out the current list of festivals featuring Original Work.

In the meantime, you can fund new work all by yourself: go buy a ticket to the next generation’s classic.

- Bill Reichblum

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