David Rabbitborough's A to Z of Australian Species



In the last few years environmentalists have been concerned by the emergence of a new species which has multiplied rapidly and now represents a major threat to the arts. Gaudy, elusive and constantly on the move, its name is the Arts Administrator or Fundus Procurus.

In the Seventies there were fears that the Australian artist - a rare and delicate creature - was in danger of becoming extinct. To combat this, the Government set up a number of irrigation schemes to channel money into the artistic sector. What no one anticipated was that these avenues for funding would be rapidly choked by a new intruder - the Arts Administrator.

The way in which the Arts Administrator works is as follows. First it writes a Submission to the government to get a Grant. When the money comes through the Administrator puts most of it into setting up a permanent office, designing letter heads and installing a fax-lines etc. The creature then settles into the process of Defining Aims, which, since it only happens over lunch, can take up to five years.

After that the creature moves into the phase of Choosing Options which takes another three years. By this time most of the artists the grant was meant to serve have starved to death or moved into advertising. The Administrator then writes a report on what was achieved and then applies for another, more highly paid job.

Oddly enough, despite the damage it inflicts on the arts environment, the creature is not regarded as a pest. Many people regard Arts Administration as an art in its own right and newspapers now devote far more space to Festival organisers, gallery directors, and Chairpersons of Theatre Boards than to artists themselves. Governments are particularly fond of the creatures having found that they make excellent pets. They are also regarded as excellent game and many politicians have heads of Arts Administrators hanging over their mantelpieces.

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