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Arts wage poorly sketched

Katherine Rich National MP 20 December 2000

Arts wage poorly sketched

"An arts wage would amount to creating a "First Circle" of the welfare system for privileged artists," National MP Katherine Rich said today.

Judith Tizard's suggestion that artists could soon be paid a weekly wage from Government coffers poses more questions than it answers.

"Ms Tizard talks about the role of artists in terms of our 'national wellbeing and our economic wellbeing', but whoever said these are the purposes of art? One would think art is about the free expression of the human spirit.

"We hear that 400 artists could be guaranteed a minimum income, but is this 400 different artists each year or a permanent select group?

"Tizard is naïve to think that this sort of strategy would create more people like 'Janet Frame and Tosswill Woollaston.' What about the likes of our philosophers and ballerinas? Would they qualify for this arts wage?

"What's more, who is going to pick these lucky few? Will it be an elite clique charged with defining what is 'good art' or will artists have to submit their portfolios to Judith and Helen?"

Ms Rich says it's important New Zealand remains focused on growing our artistic markets both home and abroad.

"Growing markets and improved international access will improve the chances of our artists making it. An arts wage can not guarantee artists any advancement in their careers," Katherine Rich said.

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