Thursday, February 03, 2011

Why worry?

A painting done one day when I was feeling lonely in a new town...

I’m aware that I have not blogged for a month! This must be a record for me, but to tell you the truth, I am a bit of a facebook junkie. I can send status updates by phone ( I have a new and fabulous Android ), post pictures, let people know about up and coming events and well, generally enjoy the immediacy of it. Isn’t that funny? A couple of years ago I thought blogging was very immediate; but the reality is that people seem to like and respond more to small bites of information than long diatribes. Facebook and Twitter have become our new town criers. Should we worry?

I have decided not to.

Since the start of the new year I have attended 3 funerals, followed the news on weather disasters, observed the political unrests abroad and wondered where our cat was after he got into a scrap and didn’t come home. Worrying about any of these things makes no difference at all to the outcome. I spent much of last year in deep concern over things outside of my control or sphere of influence. The economy right now, it has to be said, sucks more than just a little bit, but fretting about it didn’t make more money come in the door. One can only be paid for the work one does, so if there is no work...well that’s not a hard one to figure out.

So it took my breath away this morning when I read in the Dominion Post the following gem from our Minister for Social Development Paula Bennett in relation to the Artists Benefit which is likely to be axed.

"As valuable as the arts are to society, now is not the time to be turning down available work to follow an artistic dream"

I posted it as a status update on facebook and had immediate feedback (this is why I love the medium; it’s a social network).
Here are some of the (abridged) comments- and I have not included names for privacy reasons.

“Calling creativity a "dream" lables it as fluffy, lightweight, fantasy or unrealistic avoidance of proper realistic goals. Now IS the time for innovative and creative answers to our problems, self generated occupation, the time to look at ideas and goals, not turning away and putting them aside.”

“As valuable as politicians are to society, now is not the time to allow the state to dictate that only those in paid employment are valuable to society”

“Then politicians turn up to arts functions and openings on their free invites and drunkenly expound on how wonderful certain artists are.”

There were plenty more, but if you want to read them then you’ll have to join facebook and befriend me.
My big question to Ms Bennett is “What exactly is the available work we artists are turning down?”
Every artist, writer and performer I have known have spent a good deal of money, sweat and time on their education in the arts. They work intensely on their practice, their networking and marketing. They invest money into their businesses and also do work that is not inspiring or particularly creative in order to invest further. Why do we do this? Why don’t we line up to apply for jobs that Ms Bennett says are out there (but in reality aren’t).

Vincent Van Gogh said it perfectly: "The only time I feel alive is when I'm painting."

If he’d become a policy analyst, he’d have died much sooner...
As I said, I’ve been to 3 funerals already this year; the death of the arts in New Zealand is not one I want to attend. But I'm not going to worry; I'm going to stand up. 

What are you going to do this year?


maureen said...

Tonight...I was listening to the news and the headline was unemployment figures in the midst of feeling bad...when a nice bit of art can lift your spirits and put a perspective on the human condition the artists must stow away their creativity and find a job (joke)so that we can all keep that treadmill going...

TK Roxborogh said...

I totally agree with your comments about the immediacy of FB but I have parred down my 'friends' because.... well you know why. I have 31 friends so FB not so cool at out information dispersing (even though there are over 290 people who 'like' tk roxborogh)

It kind of nags at me (like having to clean the toilets) that I must 'update' my blog when FB is so quick and clean.

If I were to count up the number of words I've written blogging and FBing this past year I'm sure three books' worth of writing would have been accounted for.

But, I continue to do it cos all say that authors must have an active online presence.

Hmmm David Hill doesen't. Neither does BBeckett or William Taylor. Nor does the goddes Kate de Goldie.

Fifi Colston said...

Tania- study the blogs,tweets and posts of other high profile writers to see what they actually say. Nothing about the trials and tribulations life- or the difficulties of writing. I suspect publicists do more of their blogging and tweeting for them.
In that capacity they are marketing tools, not online diaries. They tell people about forthcoming tours/launches/events in a chatty informal way- the way a more static website can't.