Steve Braunias on the Taxpayers Union hullabaloo about recent arts funding

Late last week the dear old taxpayer-funded Taxpayers Union made merry by making fun of taxpayer-funded artists. It listed a number of recent grants from Creative New Zealand, and threw up its arms in horror. A novel about alpacas! In response, a bunch of writers took to the Twitter machine and expressed their horror at the philistinism (and hypocrisy) of the Taxpayers Union for daring to scoff at projects which will attract the interest of about 17 people.

Authors also came up with a nifty new hashtag: #TweetYourCNZGrant, encouraging writers to post tweets detailing made-up grants* from Creative New Zealand. The results were quite funny – and some were close to sounding kind of credible.

Below, we post five fictional grants, taken from Twitter, and five actual grants. Can you tell the difference? If so, sort out the real from the unreal, and reply to Newsroom’s Facebook page. Entrants’ names will go into a hat and the winner will receive a free copy of Pull No Punches by Judith Collins. Good luck!

Dominic Hoey. Towards the development and workshopping of a one-person show about the realities of trying make a living as an artist in Aotearoa: $13,500

House of Hudson. Towards developing ‘The Only One in the World ‘ series of short stories for children aged 4-8: $23,880

Anne Kennedy. Towards a satirical novel on our bleak future if we don’t reverse climate change, with a special section about greedy, corrupt, visionless, anti-tax-paying big business that laughs all the way to the final CO2 explosion: $2,000

Rachael King. Towards a novel about a young tattooed female taxidermist who tries to rewrite the history of her colonial family to make them appear much more caring and left-wing: $24,000

Steph Makutu. Towards a YA novel about a bunch of kids who go on camp and most of them end up dead: $26,450

Becky Manawatu. Towards days off the mahi for period cramps: $41,999

Margarita Maramara. Towards a 30-page, high quality Art Zine written and illustrated by a group of ten Kiwi-Asian storytellers: $27,109

Duncan Sarkies. Towards writing a novel about the collapse of democracy in an association of alpaca breeders: $26,000

Kerrin Sharpe. Towards a series of poems set in and around Lyttelton Harbour with the theme of surviving hard times: $18,200

Chris Tse. Towards an anthology of writing that promotes the agendas of, and normalises, alternative non-heterosexual lifestyles, destroying the delicate fabric of NZ society and causing earthquakes and pandemics in the process: $50,000

* Post-script: Actually it turns out that most of the #TweetyourCNZgrant tweets were real applications, not made-up at all, rendering this exercise a bit lame and pointless. But at least one tweet is surely made-up. Simply identify it and go into the draw to win that awful book by Collins.

Steve Braunias is the literary editor of Newsroom's books section ReadingRoom, a noted writer at the NZ Herald, and the author of 10 books.

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