Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The same old same old from Cate Blanchett

Whenever well known artists speak about what they do, they're almost guaranteed to sound pompous, arrogant, and incoherent. Cate Blanchett is no exception. Here is an edited extract of a recent speech she gave in Adelaide.

Along with the usual vague piffle about art nourishing the human soul, Blanchett mentions that artists work for less than workers in other industries. Obviously that harsh reality doesn't apply to Blanchett herself. But it's certainly does to artists generally.

The theory is that it's because they love what they do. Well, yes, that's partially true. It's also because most of the money is always going to arts bureaucrats, not the artists themselves.

Take any arts festival in this country that showcases local performing arts. It's pretty much a given that aside from a favoured few, the people who write, produce and perform in the shows are doing it on their own dime. Also, you often have to pay a not insubstantial registration fee to be part of one of these events. Sometimes shows benefit from the general publicity that the festival generates, and the artists make a few bob. But usually they lose money. (I know this because I wrote and performed a couple of shows for such festivals back in the nineties.)

If it were in any other industry the unions would be kicking up a huge fuss about it. But it just goes under the radar all the time. And molly-coddled twits like Blanchett keep wheeling out the same old garbage about the arts enriching us spiritually, etc., then asking for still more money. What that means is, more money for the likes of Blanchett and those at the top of the administrative culture, not those primary producers at the bottom.

It's really quite a revolting case of cynical exploitation. If lefties were remotely sincere in their claims about caring about the underdog, and wanting their to be fairness in society, they would be up in arms about this perennial injustice. But of course they are silent. The fact that it just goes on and on with no-one pointing it out (least of all the long suffering artists themselves - maybe they're all masochists?) is almost unbelievable.

Still, even if artists themselves aren't complaining, I think more and more non-artists are aware of it and getting very sick of it. If you scroll down to the comments of the above-linked article, you'll see a lot of very critical, disdainful comments about Blanchett's silly speech. And remember, these are Herald readers, who are among the most left-leaning in the country.

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