Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Taking on the private funding issue

Stephanie Fysh, in one of the discussion groups on Facebook, put into words what I've been trying to convey - the challenge of getting private funding. Her words:


Have you ever tried to get a small-business bank loan? In most sectors of the economy, you can get capital backing from a private institution to assist in bankrolling your business -- you don't have to already have an established, successful business in order to access that. But as an artist, you wouldn't stand a chance with the banking system, regardless of your track record. Many government grant programs exist in order to provide capital-expense funding and cover some temporary costs to enable artists (whose average income level is currently something like $23,000) to actually purchase the materials and obtain the space they need in order produce work that can be sold. Other sectors don't need to have large profits and savings *before* accessing capital; why are people who produce artistic and cultural products so vastly different as to deserve no such access at all?

Those cultural sectors that do access large capital backing from the private sector -- particularly movies (including populist movies), television (including populist/"entertainment" television) -- don't stand a chance if they don't first have a portion of government backing. In practice, no bank will touch them without it.

And in publishing -- not just publishing of high-falutin' novels and poetry, but also children's books, Canadian history and current events and exposés, Canadian books on family health, home repair, cooking, magazines of all sorts -- for the most part, if there weren't some government funding assisting in the publication process, those books would (if they got to print at all) would be priced right out of the market.

It's all very well and nice to say that the entertainment industry should stand on its own two feet, not rely on "handouts," etc., etc., etc., but that view falls apart in the face of the actual structure and economics of cultural industry, and assumes, falsely, that government does not also support, whether through the tax system or direct or indirect funding, other industries.

1 comment:

Catherine said...

Excellent post!

Again, this really seems to come down to the issue of awareness; those who say art should "stand on its own two feet" simply don't know, or understand, the process of funding.

Thanks for shedding some light!

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