Friday, May 15, 2015

Some people are bad at math with other people's money

Currency by Denis Beaubois, 2011
(aka $20,000 AUD cash)

Denis Beaubois received a $20,000 grant from the Australia Council for the Arts. According to the Australia Council for the Arts the "decision date" was July 5, 2010 but it wasn't exhibited until Aug 18-30, 2011 and his "work" was auctioned off Aug 31, 2011. Assuming the government sends its checks promptly, he could have collected interest on the $20,000 for over a year. 

He took the $20,000 AUD in 100 dollar bills and declared the pile of 2 bundles of money to be art. He titled it the creative name "Currency." It was then auctioned off with a high bid of $17,500 AUD but with the buyer's premium the total was $21,350 AUD. I suspect the high bidder may have gotten carried away or hadn't known the correct percentage charged for the buyer's premium. 

Some of you might notice that $17,500 is noticeably less than $20,000 while some art majors might not. Spending $20,000 to get a return of $17,500 does not seem like the best business plan. It seems Australian arts funding isn't focused on efficiency. But don't worry, he wasn't spending his own hard earned money.

(note some of the pdf links I had found no longer work since I originally wrote this post and were removed and I can't find the replacements. This is not necessarily a complete list. A searchable database is here)
in 1995-1996 he received $8,200 for a "hybrid art project"
in 1997 he received $6,200 for Presentation and Promotion to "O'seas"
in 1998-99 he received $8,045 for Presentation and Promotion to Germany and the Netherlands
in 1999-2000 he received $5,694 for "new work"
in 2000-2001 he received $8,930 for promotion in the USA
in 2001-2002 he received $8,000 for "Part-time residency at UNSW to work with forensic psychologists"
in 2005-2006 he received $20,000 for "new work"
in 2007 he received $20,000 to "Create new video works ‘video for living room’"
in 2010/11 $20,000 to be sold as a pile of cash.
in 2012 he received $20,000 to "Research theories of Capitalism and the Banking system to produce a series of new artworks"

I wonder what percent of grant recipients have previously received a grant?

You'd think the Council would require the grant recipients to send a photo of their work into the council website so people (ie the people paying for it) could see what they've been up to. Imagine a series of photos of Denis Beaubois sitting in a chair between July 5, 2010 and August, 2011 thinking and planning and practicing (counting and stacking bills) and learning the necessary skills ("Hi, I'd like to withdraw $20,000 in cash") and then executing his project.

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