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OPINION: Artists of Australia – Get a Real Job

May 21, 2014 by Jess McAvoy

Get a real job.

It’s said to artists all the time. Creating art is not a real job. It’s a hobby. Get off your arse, and just, “contribute to society”.

The frustrating thing is that art surrounds us, defines us, enriches us, informs us, and by and large keeps us relevant in the most socially influential global forum – the entertainment industry.

The Australian federal budget was announced last week, and amongst many other horribly embarrassing changes that are happening to our country, one thing has become abundantly clear to me:

The Government of Australia is systematically crushing our cultural identity.

This has been going on for a while, but now they’re in full demolition mode. Contributors of export worthy creative content, are being watered down and road-blocked as available funding is being drastically cut, and the scaffolding supporting new creative contributors in this country is being bulldozed.

Let’s start with parallel importing. When John Howard opened the floodgates for other countries to buy up our resources, it allowed the saturation of our entertainment market with foreign content. We started getting a plethora of American content on our screens and on our radio. With the good stuff came a whole bunch of crap that we were also obligated to broadcast.

So much content that eventually we could fill more channels.

To protect our cultural heritage, Australian content on Radio and in our media is supposed to consist of 25% of the overall playlist/broadcast. That’s compared to 35% required local content on Canadian Broadcasters, and a whopping 30%- 50% enforced local content in Europe. So really 25% is not that much. It’s 1 in 4 songs played on radio. But think about it this way. If one 1 out of 4 artists you hear on the radio is local and they rock so hard that they got on the station you listen to, perhaps you’d be compelled to see them live, and because they’re local you can.

So you could go down the road to see them play. You hang out with your friends in the pub together and connect and convene and share ideas. You might even not look at your phone all night! You love the band, the band gets a regular show somewhere because people keep coming to the show ‘cos their stuff gets played on radio. Bam! Band can survive off their art.

That’s a drastic simplification, but it’s not untrue. And it’s becoming less and less common for this to happen. Is it because artists in this country are of lesser quality than they used to be? I think not.

It’s because, conveniently for the American entertainment industry, the content guidelines in Australia are not enforced. And in fact, commercial radio has fought on a number of occasions to have these regulations abolished.

Have a listen to commercial radio and it’s pretty obvious.

This is one reason why our music industry is struggling, as is our television and game design industry. Pretty much every creative industry in Australia is hanging on by a thread with no funds to compete with offshore content.

Oh yeah and hey- government funding to the arts has been slashed by millions.

Now- young people people trying to figure out how to negotiate the shrinking market for creative employment will have no stop gap. Centerlink doesn’t acknowledge the Arts as a legitimate career path. Never has. As for young people wanting to make art or figure out the next step towards it, they will have a much a harder time surviving with the changes to unemployment benefits.

Think about it. We gather our cultural identity by the things that we have seen in our local environment. Think about the time when Australia’s soundtrack was John FarnhamMidnight Oil, INXS – What are we now? Who are our current exports of culture to that level?

Authentic local voices are being pushed out of the market. We are importing gentrified American content into our homes through television, music, film, fashion; and are creating a climate that will embrace political changes that will make us more like America. Indoctrinating the people with a new lexicon, you’ll notice that the pronunciation and vocabulary of young people now is becoming more American.

Without these local voices there are fewer opportunities for our community to gather in rooms where common interest is celebrated and strengthened.  We need community to feel safe to make social change. To stand up to the bullshit way we are treating the traditional owners of this land, to do something about the shocking treatment of asylum seekers, the big money environmental rape of this precious, unique, magical country, and many other disgusting and embarrassing slights against our intelligence as a compulsory voting country.

Australia has a giant wealth of world class artists across the board, and our own country is losing sight of us. The ranks of innovative, brave and unique artists in Australia who can support themselves are thinning out rapidly as we struggle to make ends meet.

So how about this. Get off your devices and take a risk- go out and see Australian art, dance, music, Australian film, and realise that you can be a conscious part of the revolution by spending your money on Australian Content. More often than not, you will have a life changing experience in the real world with your fellow free thinkers.

We Artists make Art because we have to. Sometimes our sanity depends on it. At times we are forced to do it for free, because wehave to. And we make Art, because Art is War.

We are at a critical point in our history where our freedoms are being taken away one by one at exponential speed. Our history as an apathetic nation will lead to our own demise.

When we silence the arts, we silence the voice of the people.

I have a real job.


I would like to clarify that I am speaking in general terms about mainstream media. There are many community radio stations and independent media sources that champion Australian content, and many of us are indebted to these fine individuals. I would not have a career if it were not for these wonderful warriors of fine content.

Original article: http://jessmcavoy.com/blog/artists-australia-get-real-job/

The views expressed in this article are the views of the author and not necessarily the views of Melting Pot.

Author Details

Jess McAvoy

Jess McAvoy is a jack of all trades, master of some. A songwriter with twenty years of experience, including international tours throughout Australia and North America, support spots with The Waifs, Ani Difranco, Michelle Shocked and many more.

An artist, painter and poet, Jess has been a one woman show, managing her own company “Henduwin” since she was forteen years old, Jess has been intensively involved with all aspects of the industry for her whole adult life. After a sell out farewell show one of the most prestigious venues in Melbourne with some of Australia's A- listers of the music industry, Jess is currently living a gypsy lifestyle between Melbourne and New York City.

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