Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Day jobs, arts and dole

Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt has no time for artists using the dole as a pseudo government grant: . . ."Why does work stop you being creative? Trollope wrote wonderful novels while working full-time in a post office [and] Dickens worked as a journalist and editor while dashing off [their novels]"

Sigh. Not because Andrew Bolt makes a typically (for him) empty point, but because Simon Castles substantially agrees with him:

It's a fair point, though we might wonder how much more Trollope or Dickens could have produced had they not been stuck at the office for years. That Dickens had to clock on like the rest of us appeals to our desire for egalitarianism, but with hindsight, might not we bend the rules a little for another Great Expectations or Tale of Two Cities?

Castles thus agrees with Bolt’s premise that there are jobs galore out there in 2006 for post office workers, journalists and editors – but disagrees that it is necessarily a good thing for artists/writers to rely on such a day job to survive.

Crap, on the first point (and FWIW, I'm with Bolt on the second). There are no day jobs galore, not in Melbourne, anyway. But there certainly is a thriving, and seemingly well-paid industry in peddling the day-job fiction as fact. And once one subscribes to becoming such a propagandist, as Castles does, any amount of slackness and misinformation seems permissible:

After six months those aged 18 to 39 must do a work-for-the-dole project or undertake education or training” (penultimate URL)

Actually “Mutual Obligation” was extended to 40 to 49 year olds in July 2002, just as the oldest Xers started to turn 40. In any case, in stating the ostensible range of Mutual Obligation activity choices, Castles misunderstands his bailiwick. Almost any serious artists/writer will have already been to university, and could not reasonably gain anything from further education or training. Hence, the devil is in the detail of Mutual Obligation: it is something most easily satisfied by the young (being prodded to go to university/TAFE is hardly an unreasonable imposition on a young wannabe artist/writer), but becomes steadily more punitive with increasing age.

Castles also gushes:

The young man behind the [Art and Dole] website . . . prefers to remain anonymous for fear of attracting unwanted attention from Centrelink.

Umm, unless Centrelink is yet to discover Google (which is possible, I guess, since plainly Castles hasn’t), the Art and Dole website creator’s identity is revealed in this 2005 SMH story, as Adelaide artist Andrew Best.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?