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Speaker: What PACE actually does

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  • BenWilson,

    Culturally I think we've tended to homogeneise all contributions, everybody is creative

    Maybe that's because it's true? But that doesn't mean some people's efforts don't tower over others - all I'm saying is that some tradespeople tower over others, and this is seldom seen as their artistry. It's like it's an inevitable and easy outcome of appropriate training. Which seems to me about as silly as when Nietzsche claimed that writing great books was easy, you just had to put yourself to the task for 10 odd years, mastering all variety of linguistic traditions, and bingo, you're Shakespeare.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8523 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to BenWilson,

    Which seems to me about as silly as when Nietzsche claimed that writing great books was easy, you just had to put yourself to the task for 10 odd years, mastering all variety of linguistic traditions, and bingo, you're Shakespeare.

    Or when Michelangelo claimed that sculpting was about removing the excess marble. I suspect our thinking is just the opposite here - my feeling is that there is almost nothing we regard more highly as a culture than technical ability.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7364 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    One of my brothers is a builder. His ability to create living spaces is definitely artistry - especially when he rebuilds in an older shell of a house.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • jessica scott,

    Getting back to the PACE scheme..... It's been my impression that the scheme was being undermined well before National came into government. After I graduated with a Fine Arts degree in 2004 I was shortly on the dole. I made the mistake of saying to my case worker that I was pretty confident I would find work and didn't need to go on a course (like the first one Robyn described). I was told that if I thought I could find work, then I shouldn't be allowed on the dole. The benefit was there only for people who had absolutely no other options, and was not a stop-gap. I was also told very angrily that I wasn't allowed on the PACE scheme as I didn't have a proven record of working as an artist- I had graduated a few months before hand.

    Luckily I moved flats and therefore moved to a different WINZ zone and was given a much nicer case worker. I think I was on the dole for a few months and eventually got work in a gallery under the taskforce green scheme, which was brilliant.

    One of the other issues I have the employment in NZ is the voluntary-isation of jobs. Not just in the arts, although there are many, but in other fields as well. I'm not sure if this is still the case, but I remember from a few years ago all the Auckland Art Gallery tour guides were volunteers- why is that?

    Wellington • Since Mar 2010 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to jessica scott,

    Getting back to the PACE scheme.

    Thank goodness!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8523 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to BenWilson,

    Thank goodness!

    Yes, sorry for forcing you to have a conversation at knife point. I should really stop doing that.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7364 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I suspect our thinking is just the opposite here - my feeling is that there is almost nothing we regard more highly as a culture than technical ability.

    The degree to which I agree with you will depend on the degree to which you accept that art is a technical ability. Is any ability not technical, really? I'm actually asking your opinion, rather than having a set position in my mind on this. Can you think of an ability that doesn't almost entirely revolve around learning techniques to apply it?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8523 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Yes, sorry for forcing you to have a conversation at knife point. I should really stop doing that.

    LOL, no, I'm liking this, but I was worried it was stopping others dead.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8523 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to jessica scott,

    I was also told very angrily that I wasn't allowed on the PACE scheme as I didn't have a proven record of working as an artist- I had graduated a few months before hand.

    And in Fine Arts! If you can't study that and call yourself an artist...Sounds like you had a real Catch 22 going there.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8523 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to jessica scott,

    I was told that if I thought I could find work, then I shouldn’t be allowed on the dole. The benefit was there only for people who had absolutely no other options, and was not a stop-gap. I was also told very angrily that I wasn’t allowed on the PACE scheme as I didn’t have a proven record of working as an artist- I had graduated a few months before hand.

    Luckily I moved flats and therefore moved to a different WINZ zone and was given a much nicer case worker. I think I was on the dole for a few months and eventually got work in a gallery under the taskforce green scheme, which was brilliant.

    Um, all of this is lunatic.

    The dole ideally is a stopgap, to tide you over until you find work.

    And the “proven record” thing is pure bullshit. The Work & Income website says it’s for people “willing and able” to pursue a career in the arts.

    It’s frightening how much the case worker lottery can dictate your experience.

    But also: good old Taskforce Green.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18888 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Littlewood,

    I was lucky enough to be in that position at a time (1991) when the then-National government was very keen to move people to Taskforce Green and/or Job Plus. We did Planet magazine on that basis for about 18 months.

    It paid only what the dole paid, but instead of being hassled to do something where my skills would be wasted, I was able to do something that developed my skills – and which, I think, had beneficial effects for businesses around us. I certainly increased my own value in the employment market, and thus paid more tax than would otherwise have been the case. I also worked bloody hard.

    The irony is that TFG and Job Plus operated without anything like the level of accountability demanded by PACE. They were very loosey-goosey indeed. But that was then, this now …

    Ha! That reminds me of my time working as a paid staff member for Critic. I got paid for about 10-15 hours a week, realistically worked there 20-30 hours a week, but because of the discrepancy and the fact I was receiving partial benefit, I had to go through the rigmarole of WINZ each week, and being sent on courses I was either (a) overqualified for or (b)almost entirely irrelevant . I could understand their point of view (after all, I was technically "still on" the dole), but it was still frustrating to say the least.

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    On the unemployment benefit there's the two week stand-down, and the requirement to have exhausted all your liquid assets before you qualify. Is that the case with PACE?

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2135 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to George Darroch,

    On the unemployment benefit there’s the two week stand-down, and the requirement to have exhausted all your liquid assets before you qualify.

    Um, I'm pretty sure that's only for the Emergency Unemployment Benefit, which is what students can get during their vacations. And the Accomodation Supplement is asset-tested. The UB itself is not cash-asset tested.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3447 posts Report Reply

  • jessica scott, in reply to George Darroch,

    Yes, the same from what I remember. It's still the dole, still the same amount of money etc The difference is/was when people on the scheme developed their 'job seekers agreement' could specify that they were looking for work within the creative industries, and therefore couldn't be reprimanded for refusing to go to job interviews for labouring jobs, for example

    Wellington • Since Mar 2010 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Jacqui Dunn, in reply to BenWilson,

    Is any ability not technical, really?

    Did you ever read the story of the Zen master archer? He never missed. Then one day, someone said, as he lined up a shot, "Do you close one eye, or keep them both open?" The story goes that he had to learn how to shoot all over again.

    To my mind, ability begins with learning the technical know-how, but passion and commitment sharpen the ability. The technique fades, or if you like, is submerged. It's there, but secondary to something less tangible. What happens then is up to the taste of the artist: what s/he wants to produce.

    So I agree with you, up to a point. It's what happens after that that makes the difference.

    Deepest, darkest Avondale… • Since Jul 2010 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to jessica scott,

    I think there are two different things. First, it is now acceptable to list creative industries as a career choice when registering as unemployed, rather than having to bullshit in-order to be taken seriously. Second, the PACE scheme, which is a different thing. It is professional development scheme not unlike the start your own business scheme, but specifically geared toward the creative industries.

    I have a fabrication engineering certificate, so I get to say that "I am a boiler maker".

    Stating "artist!" as my profession, would haver been leading with the chin prior to the introduction of Helen Clark as minister of Arts.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2745 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to BenWilson,

    The degree to which I agree with you will depend on the degree to which you accept that art is a technical ability.

    Now that sentence is, in itself, a work of art. It is the foundation, for an employing conversation.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2745 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I had to go through the rigmarole of WINZ each week, and being sent on courses I was either (a) overqualified for or (b)almost entirely irrelevant . I could understand their point of view (after all, I was technically “still on” the dole), but it was still frustrating to say the least.

    I had the coincidence of receiving a phone call on my cell phone to offer me my first 'real job' while in the WINZ office with my case worker getting my unemployment benefit. She seemed to be quite happy to sign me on for about 4 weeks until the job started. Good timing :)

    Since Nov 2006 • 6175 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Did you ever read the story of the Zen master archer?

    Not sure. I was deliberately vague about how one could learn technical abilities. But it seems to be a pretty big part of learning basically everything. I don't know about Zen masters, but there's no intimation that they can learn anything without doing the same hard yards as everyone else, repeating the activity over and over. If they can't explain how it's done, that doesn't necessarily mean it's inexplicable. The archer most likely does actually open one eye or both (or neither, it's possible, I suppose). He probably nocks an arrow and draws the bow, lines it up and releases it. Maybe he breathes in a particular way, concentrates just so. Aren't these techniques? If he does them just right, doesn't he have great technical ability? His own description would surely vary with mine, probably talking mostly about the mystical stuff going on in the mind of the archer, focusing quite carefully on not explicating the minute details. "The arrow shoots itself when it is ready", "the archer becomes one with the target" etc.

    This was what I meant when I said art is not about what is done, but how it is done. Yet I don't think I need to buy Zen philosophy wholesale to think this way. You could just call the Zen Master an extremely technically proficient person, so that they do fantastic archery effortlessly. This is also how a great artist in a purely European tradition works. Even if they make attempts to explain their art, that doesn't mean the explanation is sufficient to give one the ability to make similar art.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8523 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to BenWilson,

    The degree to which I agree with you will depend on the degree to which you accept that art is a technical ability.

    But not solely a technical ability (although yeah, that's what art actually means). One could in fact point to Tao Wells' aforementioned project and ask where's the technique in that? Or opine that what made several key artists in history stand out amongst their contemporaries wasn't that they were technically more accomplished.

    Which is not to say that I wish to go down the road of separating art from craft - it is far too subjective, it varies too greatly between disciplines, it is full of arbitrary put downs. And I have much respect for craftsmen. Hell, my father was one of them. I'm pretty sure he wasn't an artist, though, and that Weta model makers aren't artists either, in that they are not fulfilling that role and responding to that need for our world to be imaginatively represented and critiqued. In that respect I think as a society we value what technicians do very highly, and celebrate the creativity of, say, software engineers or even translators. Whereas maybe we don't extend the same consideration to artists and intellectuals more generally.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7364 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    I can't think of much else we celebrate about our artists than their creativity.

    But your requirement that artists "fulfill that role and respond to that need for our world to be imaginatively represented and critiqued" does rather explain why PACE allows so few of them. I can just see it: "OK, so your a sculptor? Where's the critique in this abstract thingo you just made, then, huh? Pfft, you're just a technician".

    I expect that the point I was making about technique may have been lost in there, though. I was actually suggesting that there's plenty of technique in the conceptual side of things too. Design has techniques. There's technique in making good social commentary, lots of research, creativity workshopping etc. Criticism has technique. Aren't we all technicians then?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8523 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    What I take from the sory of the zen archer is that physical skill is different to intellectual skill, and if you start thinking too hard about what your body is doing, you can’t do it anymore. Anyone who’s learned a skill like dancing or a martial art knows that thinking is a distraction. It’s not your intellect that’s doing the work, but your procedural/motor memory and your proprioception (“muscle sense”). I’m not sure how well that applies to art and creativity, except of course that anxiety or self-doubt impede our abilities in any field.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3447 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Lilith __,

    What I take from the sory of the zen archer is that physical skill is different to intellectual skill, and if you start thinking too hard about what your body is doing, you can’t do it anymore.

    I'm not so sure that they don't extend the same principle to mental processes too. Zen Masters do, after all, do things that would seem mostly mental, like arranging flowers, calligraphy, etc. I'm not sure if they particularly approve of a mental/physical distinction for Zen mindedness. They do talk, they do write. But, so far as I know, their mental state is not meant to change from one activity to the next, except perhaps when they are resting or sleeping.

    But it's a mystical philosophy, I'm never sure if rationalizations about it in translation are correct, indeed it's most basic premise seems to forgo all rationalization. It's a fairly famous position that you could know absolutely everything ever written about Zen, and still know nothing at all about it, and vice versa.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8523 posts Report Reply

  • Jacqui Dunn,

    I think we're probably all in agreement.

    Take driving a car - maybe one with a clutch and gearstick, as automatics make it so much easier - but it's not a natural process. One foot does one thing, the other does other things, the hands are engaged in various activities and the brain is processing it all, probably very slowly and muddly when first learned, but after a while it all happens smoothly, and for some people, with consummate skill. It takes technical ability, no doubt at all. What makes some people masters at driving is something - let's call it "art" - that takes it beyond mere changing gear and steering.

    Deepest, darkest Avondale… • Since Jul 2010 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to BenWilson,

    I’m not sure if they particularly approve of a mental/physical distinction for Zen mindedness

    That isn't actually what I said - our brains do heaps of things that don't involve intellectualisation, such as motor skills, which involve two-way messaging between brain and muscles. The part of our brains which reasons is only part of our mental toolkit.

    We don't reason how to arrange flowers or do calligraphy, people who are good at these things know how they should go. And I think most creative people would say that our best work happens when we are relaxed and just following where it takes us, rather than laboriously thinking it through.

    That doesn't mean a big part of these skills isn't learned - I'm sure it is, and refined by long practice and experience.

    But Jacqui is right - I think we're mostly in agreement here.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3447 posts Report Reply

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