The Review of the Resale Royalty Scheme: or a classic case of what Niskanen spoke about. Conclusion

On Thursday 8th august the Australian ran this article by Nicolas Rothwell about the toxic debacle that is the reality of the governments Artists Resale Royalty scheme. The article concluded with an examination of the circular nature of the government funded lobbyists for ARR:

Another enthusiastic assessment comes from the National Association for the Visual Arts, a “peak body”. [John] Walker’s investigations reveal NAVA’s annual income is about $1.1m, $812,000 of which is cash from governments; it reports $165,757 as fees from members, but of this total $104,313 is currently reported as deferred, as has been the case for years. It is in truth a tiny cabal that claims to represent a multitude.

The vista here is plain enough. The state arts establishment has set up and funded outposts of like-minded souls to give itself a facade of support. Walker is scathingly precise: “The government arts sector has developed such a widespread degree of circularity as to be like Narcissus and Echo, motionless and invisible; a hall of mirrors signifying nothing.”

NAVA has posted a response of sorts on its website, however nowhere in NAVAs response does it deny that the authoritative National Association for the Visual Arts has a paid up membership equivalent to a small country village.

About john r walker

Have been exhibiting for 30 years . Utopia Art Sydney is my sole outlet. Apart from painting representations I have had a long interest in deep time , history in general and the representation of representation. http://johnrwalker.com.au/
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Paul Frijters
Paul Frijters
8 years ago

fascinating John. Do let us know if/when they shut down the subsidy to this group.

This saga is also interesting from a cross-national perspective. In the Netherlands, as in many other countries, you get the same ‘cabals’ in arts and other subsidised walks of life. Yet in those places, policy making happens more carefully and this kind of open debacle policy is less likely to get through.

Yet, perhaps the sheer ignorance this saga exposes at the heart of policy making is the strength of the Australian system: by stuffing up so completely, and so blatantly just to favour an in-crowd, these cabals get exposed and hopefully taken care off at the earliest political opportunity. By simply basing policy on who shouts loudest, even if it is a cabal, and then ruthlessly cutting off the whole lot if it conspicuously fails you might actually in the long run get better policy than if you do things more carefully! That’s just a hope though, but it would help explain why this country is doing so well…