begging / culturemaking

The writer-not-in-residence

I’ve had an interesting and generally rewarding time attempting to raise the funds to attend the Very Special Residency. I’ve had to give up my place, which is of course not so rewarding, but I’ve had lots of fun imagining how the money might be raised.

In retrospect I might have made it more of a research performance/performance of research, considering that my residency project was to further develop the writing and research on begging and the commons. Dear friend M suggested I run a Pozible campaign which was a capital idea in the best possible sense and would have fit perfectly. If my broader research doesn’t get funded in some other way then perhaps I still will.

Anyway, I nearly made it. My main workplace agreed to give me the time off in lieu of extra hours on either side of the trip. My ever-generous mama offered to pay the trans-hemispheric airfare. This left the $1900 program fee. An artist friend alerted me to the Arts NSW quick-response grants. However, upon inquiry it was revealed that they are delivered on a periodic basis and my project was extra-period.

I quite liked the idea of being a Resident on the other side of the world on the dime of rate-paying neighbours, so I approached the cultural grants officers at two relevant local government agencies. They were both ever so supportive and regretfully advised that they do not provide funds to individuals, and at any rate their annual cultural grants round occurs later in the year.

Beloved friends offered to lend me the money. I declined as I have no prospects of being able to pay back any debts (and, ahem, am already in hock for September’s Very Exciting Holiday). I do 3.5 days of paid work a week via two casual jobs. The main one is contracted on a fixed-term basis, with state government funding for the position set to run out in June. The other one will also last as long as its federal grant does, though my contract for it consists of an employee number and a signature and I didn’t get paid last week, so let’s just say it doesn’t lend itself to much consumer confidence.

I approached the residency’s host institutions. One organiser was able to offer $250 after some wrangling. I felt shy and silly in saying that this just wouldn’t be enough to cover my costs. I wasn’t making it up. I am a person of genuine means but they just don’t stretch to a spare coupla grand for investing when opportunity knocks.

I feel a sleepy bird, late to the worm. Perhaps if I really wanted it and if I was really serious about my practice and really believed in it then I’d just have Done It and hang the expense because there is always enough and always a way. But, as before, I feel stuck on the idea that there is already too much pretense in our worlds of practice, and the assumption that I could just drop everything to participate in such an honestly marvellous prospect is actually, sometimes, just a bit rich.

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9 thoughts on “The writer-not-in-residence

  1. Indebtedness is infinite, which means it can never be repayed. Either we approach that as accountants, or approach it differently, incalculably – and, more politically put: as a question of the distribution of abundance and the imposition of scarcity, of the distribution of right (a logic which should be refused and refuted as much as is possible). If there is money, take it, without begging. The orders of entitlement are there to be overthrown. Difficult to do, but crucial.

    • @Sometimes

      Indebtedness is infinite, which means it can never be repayed.

      lul whut? Jest is infinite, which means it can never be displayed? unindebtedness is finite, which means it can be repayed? But how can you repay non-debt? Problematic to be Frank. Which I am.

  2. It does seem perverse – am I getting this right – that a workshop on The Commons is charging $1900 for facilities and what have you for the few who made it through the application process… cute that it is cheaper to share and financially punishing to have your own room!

    I wonder what location would be fitting an event like this, that asks theory to diagnose feelings of political community and belonging amongst students, artists and sponsored faculty with the cash and the will to invest in theory having a future. (Who are these people?)

    But focusing on this event in particular as any more or less representative of the circuits of privilege in the academy would seem like a waste of energy – better to begin the world-making at home, especially now while you can still pay the rent ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Pingback: A solidarity economy for academics « Flat 7

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