Art for social change

Issue 

BY SARAH STEPHEN

Most artists who make it big in Australia don't look back. But John Butler isn't one of them. The social justice issues that fuelled much of his musical passion and creativity over the years — the environment, Indigenous issues, refugees — still burn brightly for him, and in 2005 he's putting money into helping other artists find their means of expression.

Through the JB Seed grant program, launched at the beginning of 2005, Butler has put $50,000 up for grabs, but it's a grant program of a different kind.

There are five funding categories, which are "designed to explore and encourage the social, cultural and artistic diversity in Australian society", according to a January 5 media release. "We will create an open-minded 'artist-friendly' grant program that focuses on positive outcomes."

The multicultural arts category is for all art forms in recognition of the lack of access refugees on temporary protection visas have to mainstream funding bodies. Examples of projects that may be funded under this category are: translations of stories; art exhibitions or materials; and skills development in a particular art form.

The Indigenous music category is open to musicians, technicians and managers who are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent.

The social activism through the arts category is open to artists working in art forms that produce an outcome that educates the community on the implications of legislative change. The website explains: "Examples of projects that may be funded under this category are: an art exhibition that has a theme of human rights or refugees or the environment; the development of a script that has similar themes or the production of a compilation CD that raises funds for a specific purpose that will assist communities in understanding what the issues are and how they will impact on them."

The final two categories are music workshops and professional development, and music marketing. Applicants can apply for any amount up to $10,000 per category, and there are no age restrictions.

"The JB Seed has been a dream of mine, and the team I work with for many years now and I am excited that it's becoming a reality", says Butler.

Expressions of interest are being accepted until March 15. For information and application forms, visit the website <http://www.thejbseed.com>.

From Green Left Weekly, March 2, 2005.

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