Jugglers artist Nic Plowman opens his studio in one of Jugglers QR houses during BARI 2012.
Paint runs as tears here
Dropped in blobs on dirty boards,
Artists trudging out.
The way to be dictated ?
No, imagination leads.
On Monday February 25, 2013 Jugglers/Art Estate Services learnt that the Queensland Rail houses that we have leased as artist studios for the last 4 years are to be sold. Three old “Queenslanders ‘ in Wooloongabba and one in Norman Park – bought by QR for future track expansion and determined uninhabitable – have housed and nurtured artists in their pursuit of a space for soul journeys, quiet and production of art. With 13 artists about to go on the road the feelings are in general far from positive about this decision. Some frantic lobbying by us and advocacy from our local Member of Parliament has secured a 7 week extension past the original March 22 eviction date. Legally QR is within its rights to end the arrangement and we have had a great ride, a positive experiment in what is normal in cities around Australia where Governments and the corporate sector make empty spaces available for artists. Melbourne has long been committed to this model of fostering the support of artist studios in empty spaces and buildings, realising the foundational contribution that this is for the long term vision of the the city with well researched impacts on the cultural and economic resilience and depth of its populace. Melbourne City Council has funded the launch of Creative Spaces, a web site set up for the listing of buildings available for the use of artists.
It is this aspect of the QR/Queensland Government decision plus the lack of empty buildings in the frenetic ” new is best” philosophy in Brisbane that mitigates against a deepening arts culture throughout the psyche of the city. A cooperative relationship between government, business and artists needs to be more than a top heavy funding model [eg ABAF] that ends up topping up the already well secured Oprera or public galleries. My view is that the arts are to be such an essential part of the fabric of taxation spending that the kind of decision we have had to experience would never happen. Idealistic and old fashioned perhaps but one that needs to be revisited. A policy of pay as you go does not work for artists. It needs to be a nurturing relationship that values the arts. In Australia, as pointed out so well by Archibald winner Ben Quilty, sport is somehow elevated above everything else to the point where the only tertiary students who are not required to pay HECS are the elite athletes at the Australian Institute of Sport. Now if the Australian Tax Office can rule on this, on our obsession with sport prowess and winning at all costs, what legislative changes would be needed to apply a similar ruling to artists at art school? The sacred cow of sport will die a long and slow death or not at all while artists continue to make great art in stair wells and run down buildings – unless even they are taken away from them!
There is a lot of great art being made in Brisbane these days. Artist Run Initiatives [ARI’s] are thriving but this QR decision has an ominous smell about it that threatens to undermine the momentum of visual arts practice that really and only thrives in a climate of nurture. However, there is evidence to suggest that tough times make for great art regardless of narrow minded vision-less uneducated policy making.
We are working overtime to find studio accommodation for all 13 artists and are hopeful that this will be a spring board for a plethora of “good art”. We will not be limited in this vision but wonder how a new way of seeing our society can ever become part of this State’s DNA.