Arts leaders need to join real world

CLEARLY the state of Tasmania's budget situation has failed to resonate with the arts community in Hobart.

Earlier this week we learnt that the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery has been running $1 million over budget for each of the past five years despite getting $7.3 million of annual funding from the state government on top of a recent $30 million redevelopment.

Shock, horror - TMAG might have to trim some staff and review its opening hours.

Yes, in the real world that is what organisations are expected to do rather than going to the state government for an annual $1 million handout because they cannot stick to a budget.

Yesterday there was further teeth gnashing from outspoken art critic Leo Schofield because his fledgling Hobart Baroque Festival was only offered the same $400,000 of government funding that it got the previous year.

Schofield, the artistic director of the event, was reportedly after $3 million over three years and described his treatment by the state government as "shabby". Event patron Judy Tierney went even further and called the government "philistines" for its lack of financial largesse.

Events Tasmania estimated that about 1000 people from interstate visited Tasmania for the baroque festival, which led Tourism Council chief Luke Martin to say the event did not deserve extra funding because it didn't stack up in terms of direct visitation.

So incensed was Schofield that he has now threatened to pack up his harpsichord and leave the state in protest.

One can only wonder how the organisers of Launceston's Festivale feel given that they get no state government funding despite attracting nearly 60,000 people to the state's iconic food event.

When the state government is forced to look at wage freezes for public servants and trimming health administration perhaps Schofield and TMAG should be more grateful for their level of taxpayer support.

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