Peggy Glanville-Hicks Address by Nicole Canham: Lack of funding is a sign of a bigger problem

On Wednesday 26 October, the annual Peggy Glanville-Hicks Address was held in Perth for the first time. Presented by New Music Network and Tura, it was delivered by Nicole Canham, titled The Poetry of the Present, and celebrated the possibilities that come from embracing change. The lecture examined how the successes, opportunities and struggles that form a part of many creative people’s lives – often framed in terms of the decline of many cherished ideas, beliefs and values – seem to be converging with a similar, society-wide anguish characterised by uncertainty and fear.

Canham explored how the lack of funding small to medium independent artists and organisations face is a sign of bigger problems in the industry. She concluded the lecture with a series of questions, aimed to constructively alter the perceptions these artists and organisations have, and perpetuate a stronger, and more cohesive, arts environment:

  1. How often do we go to each other’s concerts?
  2. Do we offer reduced price tickets for our artist mates?
  3. Could we organise creches at our concerts so that people (including our colleagues) with young kids aren’t missing out?
  4. Does our work really reflect the diversity of our society?
  5. Does our work reflect Indigenous perspectives?
  6. Who’s on stage, and whose music is being performed?

These questions were designed to evaluate current practices in the arts, in the hope to enable artists to reflect on what they are offering, and, regardless of their funding, recognise their value in, and contribution to, society.

As Canham quoted “true community doesn’t grow out of a shared higher purpose but evolves through the pragmatic need to solve common problems” (Cawsey et al., 1995).