I am starting to think that ‘trickle down economics’, the concept that making the wealthy wealthier will inevitably flow down to those earning less – an idea seemingly admired by the Government – could be called more accurately ‘piss upon economics’. This is no rising tide lifting all boats – it’s becoming quite clear that wealth is more and more concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. The reality is that in dealing with the pandemic, the Government responded to a world they knew – and helped create. The problem is not only with the Government’s response but with the business models of the sector that made it all possible – business models that are part of a larger trend in our economy and society generally.
‘In the economy of the future the creative sector and the higher education system will be critical. Yet in facing this crisis, it seems the Government has largely abandoned both of them.’
In many ways, in its response to the pandemic, the Government has demonstrated sharply its fundamental and blind spots. In the economy of the future the creative sector and the higher education system will be critical. Yet in facing this crisis, it seems the Government has largely abandoned both of them.
Not only does the Higher Education sector train our artists and cultural workers but, as the creative sector has pointed
out, 70% of artists who earn a living beyond their creative work do so through
teaching. Yet universities are excluded from JobKeeper, as are
university galleries and their staff. The neglect extends even further ‘Local Government
institutions and their employees are excluded – that’s every regional and
suburban gallery, museum and performing arts centre in Australia. The lifeblood
of their communities, with nowhere to go. Coupled with the long-term run down and privatisation of technical and further education, no-one will be calling Australia the clever country any time soon – the clever dick country is more like it.
This is further demonstrated by the unsuitability of the JobKeeper package for many artists and artsworkers who work on a casual basis on successive short term projects across multiple employers. Someone might be continuously employed for many years but in that time work for a succession of employers for no more than a few months at a time.