ABOLISH THE AUSTRALIA COUNCIL - QUESTION MARK

By Derek Strahan BA Cantab (Modern Languages, French & Spanish)
   
 

Part 5 - TYING UP LOOSE ENDS

THE MEDICI PROGRAM

In 1988, with great fanfare, at Parliament House in Sydney , a brave new funding scheme was launched for the Australian Chamber Orchestra, which has since been emulated by every other orchestra which has registered itself as an arts organisation. This was the Medici Program. The scheme was devised by lawyers to allow members of the public to make Clayton's "directed donations" to individual members of an orchestra. This is the "directed donation" you make when it is not a "directed donation". It works like this.

Mrs. Smith of the general public can phone, say, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, and tell the receptionist that he or she would like to consider making a donation towards paying the salary of Mr. G. String, a violinist. An enthusiastic conversation will probably then take place about what a wonderful violinist Mr. G. String is. The receptionist will send out a form to be filled in, to accompany the donation cheque. If you heard this conversation you would conclude that what was being arranged was a "directed donation". But no!

The money is not going to Mr. String. It is going to a chair. It is going to the chair upon which Mr. String sits. Legally, this is not a "directed donation". The chair has been created by a committee, and it is a legal abstraction. However, Mrs. Smith thinks her money is being paid to Mr. String. That is her motivation. She knows nothing about the chair.

We note, in passing, that the Medicis, although they did keep orchestras, were better known for the direct support they gave to individual creative artists. It seems that the Australian Chamber Orchestra's Medici Program was misnamed.

But back to that chair. Nobody has thought to create similar chairs for composers or writers or other kinds of creative artists. Nobody has thought to create a body which offers such chairs for artists to sit on as they create new works. The closest to this, in music, is the Composer-in-residence. But there are not many of these. Only as many as there are orchestras. And there are a lot of composers. And some of them have written music which Mr. G. String plays. He is paid a regular salary to play such music. The composer is not. He or she may not have been paid at all.

And so we come to the main business of this article: forensic analysis of the Australia 's Council's methods of complying with a request to provide a Statement of Reasons for a particular decision by a committee to deny funding to an applicant. The following discourse is based on an article originally posted on my website in May 2001, under the title NO REASONS FOR SAYING NO .

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Part 1 - Biography
Part 1 - Preamble
Part 2 - Agenda
Part 2 - Arts Organisations - History
Part 3 - Rise of the Committee
Part 4 - Radical Proposition
1. Direct support?
2. Funding?
3. Funding bodies?
4. Bureaucrats?
5. Not empowered.
6 Statistics!
Part 5 - Loose Ends
The Medici Program
Part 6 - No Reasons
Part 7 - Summing Up
Part 8 - Composers earning money
J.S. Bach
Josef Haydn
Beethoven
Wagner
 
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SEE ALSO
“THE ECONOMIC DISEMPOWERMENT OF AUSTRALIAN COMPOSERS”
“COPYRIGHT REFORM”
“ACADEMICS AS TERRITORIAL MAMMALS”
"MUSIC AS AN INDUSTRY "
 
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All rights reserved Copyright © Derek Strahan 2004