Reset #2: What to do about Cultural Work after the Pandemic?

This event was held at Adelaide City Lending Library, Rundle Mall, 7 May 2021

2.15      Bodies of Work: A Conversation between Ben Eltham (Monash; Guardian) and Bek Conroy.

The harsh realities of cultural work are much more acknowledged now than a decade ago, as funding cuts and precarious working conditions meet unaffordable housing, higher rents, student debt and the disappearance of creative spaces in cities. The opening session looked at these challenges via the Bodies of Work project at Vitalstatistix.

Ben spoke to Bek about her work Money Laundering, Dating an Economist, and the Marrickville School of Economics. The focus was on the realities of artistic work – conditions, pay, value, self-exploitation – and on how this related to more formal accounts of economic value. The latter to projects involving an artistic interrogation of the ideas of orthodox and heterodox economists. We will definitely be involving Bek and Ben in future activities.

3.15      Troy Henderson (University of Sydney; Australia Institute): Basic Income – what is it?

Troy’s presentation laid out in detail the history of UBI: ‘a periodic cash payment unconditionally delivered to all on an individual basis, without means-test or work requirement’. He looked at the pros and cons, addressing some of the common objections to the idea. He then focused on the potential for UBI in post-pandemic Australia. The detailed slides are attached and available on the Reset Website (under construction). Finally Troy made a suggestion for a Basic Income for Artists, and what that might entail – taking us through some basic figures and potential implementation process. (Troy and colleagues further discuss here).

4.00      Cooperatives in Art and Culture? Melina Morrison CEO Business Council of Cooperatives and Mutuals (BCCM)

Melina outlined what co-ops were: “A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise”. She showed how they had a long history in Australia, though this is now hardly visible. She then showed why they might be good for artists, using case studies of the London Symphony Orchestra, Stocksy, Only the Human (Perth), The New Internationalist, Associated Press, Progressive Broadcasting Service (Melbourne), Boomalli Aboriginal Artist Co-operative. BCCM was there to advise and support artists setting up co-operatives. Slides are attached and on the website.

4.30      Sarah de Heusch, Chargée d’Affaires Publiques, SMART

SMART is a freelancers Co-op, coming out of many years practice with an increasingly precarious cultural sector. As Sarah explained, SMART now supports freelancers across the board, with the cultural sector making up around half their members. The details of this project can be found on the SMART website, and in the Reset Reading (attached and on the reset website). We have a recording of Sarah’s talk, which is being edited and made available soon.

Published by tully

I am a Senior Lecturer in the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at Flinders University working on two projects: Laboratory Adelaide: The Value of Culture and Digitization and the Immersive Reading Experience

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