Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Why Are Rural Arts Initiatives Being Cut?

I don't know much about arts funding but I do know that the recent announcement from the Arts Council about cuts in funding to local theatres is causing tremendous heartache in rural communities around the country. Take this email I have received from a contact in the North Norfolk village of Hindolveston...
Creative Arts East is facing a proposed cut of 40% of their total funding from Arts Council England. It's pretty desperate for somewhere like Hindolveston. We have several, always well attended and generally sold out, of their touring productions (music, plays poetry etc) in the Village Hall each year and they loan us the equipment and training for our monthly village cinema. This in turn raises funds for the Village Hall as well as gives the chance for good quality cultural stuff for local people - especially important for those who wouldn't be able to make a round trip of an hour and a half to go into Norwich for the equivalent. And we go to other people's Village Halls for other CEA events. It's the sort of stuff that keeps this bit of Norfolk vibrant and alive. If ACE pull the rug from under CEA it's very possible they will
fold. It really would have a deadening effect on Hindol - and other villages. So, what I was rather hoping from you is: could you sign their petition and put something suitably sad/cross in the text box? I'm asking all my friends with local connections.

So what has brought this about? I presume the Arts Council is reordering its priorities as I haven't seen anything about its own budget being cut to this extent. If it is cutting rural initiatives like this, where is it channelling the money instead? Anyone know?

UPDATE Thur 11am: This post has provoked a lot of people into asking why I, as a small government Conservative, would support any subsidy to the arts at all. I am a bit busy today but I will return to this subject at some point during the day. Meanwhile, ponder on THIS excellent thought from Westminster Wisdom.


Anonymous said...

I hear that similar things are going on in the south and south east and that the finger of blame should be pointed at the Olympics, but I've no idea if that is true.

Anonymous said...

Iain, The country is broke.They need the money for northern rock!

Alan Douglas said...

Isn't this something to do with Blair plundering the Lottery Funds to finance his Olympics ?

Alan Douglas

Anonymous said...

Iain, I'd check with them because I only heard this on the grapevine, but I think the funding for Trinity Art Centre in Tunbridge Wells has had all its AC funding cut...

Anonymous said...

Iain -

I have to wonder why one who identifies himself most closely with Ron Paul is questioning the cutting of arts subsidies.

Cutting the public subsidisation of the arts is something that libertarians such as I would welcome.

Anonymous said...

Rural? It's urban too Iain.

The Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond "is threatened with a severe grant cut even though it unearths more buried treasure than the National Theatre" says The Guardian. The same goes for The Bush Theatre in Shepherds Bush, whose grant is being cut in half. And the Birmingham Opera has had its grant pulled in one go.

These aren't pay freezes or modest cuts, we're talking 50% cuts, or even the funding coming to a sudden end in one go, something even Culture Minister James Purnell can't airbrush away.

Anonymous said...

The AC Funding is being totally withdrawn from the Northcott Theatre in Exeter which would mean its closure. This is even more aggravating because they had promised the funding (provided for many many years) not long ago - then did a MASSIVE U-turn! This story is bigger than people think - I hope this makes it beyond the regional press as it's a scandal!

Johnny Norfolk said...

Its non Labour rural areas that are being cut. Labour are townies and do not understand the country. Looks like we will have to do more hunting instead

Anonymous said...

I don't like to pour cold water on your good intentions, but do you really think our tax money should be funding poetry readings in village halls? (Or opera at Covent Garden for that matter?) And why does it need funding at all? Turn the lights on, pull a few chairs round & read poetry. Chuck a quid a head in a box to pay for light & heat, turn the lights off & go home. End of evening. So what needs funding?

Reading between the lines on the CAE site the usual dual logic seems to be in operation:
1) Give us money so we can do our arty stuff.
2) Give us some more money so that we can try and talk somebody into coming & watching us do our arty stuff.

The strange thing is that the stuff that people actually want to go to - musicians playing in the local pub for instance - is being licensed & safety elfed out of existence.

Mog said...

It has to be for the Olympics. They are pulling cash from everywhere!

I was as delighted as anyone when we won it. However, we cheated and we lied.

Nu Labour all over, same old same old innit!

We secured the Olympics because it was cheap. In all honesty there should have been a rerun or it should have been pulled from us and given to the Cheese eating surrender monkeys... at least their bid was reasonably honest.

copydude said...

All arts activities are being cut.

To quote from the Arts Council Website:

"Changes to the Grants for the arts eligibility criteria"

"There is a high demand for our grants and we cannot fund all the eligible applications we receive. To manage the increased demand and make sure we distribute funds evenly, from 31 March 2007 the Grants for the arts eligibility criteria include the following changes."

"For national activities, we will enforce more rigorously current guidance that sets a ceiling of £200,000".

"For grants to organisations we will enforce more rigorously current guidance that sets a ceiling of £100,000."

" We strongly recommend that you get advice from us if these changes affect your activity. You can contact us via the enquiry form, and find further contact details on the contact us page."

(Contact Us Page)

"We welcome your feedback and enquiries. Please get in touch with us by phoning 0845 300 6200 (textphone 020 7973 6564) or by using this form."

Anonymous said...


All arts? Does that include national arts, such the crap modern "art" that is bought for major British museums, themselves rather dependent on the government? Or is it just the regional performing arts?

Genuinely curious, not trying to make a point (OK, other than my disdain for much modern art!).

Chris Paul said...

Arts Council has growth budget. A few big punters (Royal Opera House, South Bank and the like) get the most. After some kind of review about 20% of the regularly funded organisation (RFO) theatre clients and by the look of it a similar proportion of clients in other art forms have been cut. The other about 80% mostly getting standstill or small growth budgets.

In Manchester the biggest loser appears to the Queer Up North - festival and producer of extravaganzas - which is odd as the theatre priority is supposed to be veering towards extravagances, street arts, spectacle. Which QUN include in their offering. I did the Great Manchester Run for them in 2005 or 06.

Many of those proposed for cuts are running dynamic campaigns and some are likely to consider judicial reviews and the like.

Chris Paul said...


Kaliningrad is talking utter bollocks. All arts funding is not being cut. The review does however look pretty clumsy. It is more obvious this time than in previous cases because a regionalised model until a few years ago with 10 RABs has been formed into a national model. Nonetheless the settlements for the winners and overall now are much much better than pre 1997.

Anonymous said...

From the Cambridge Evening news, 21/12/2007:

CAMBRIDGE'S famous Arts Theatre is reeling from a cash bombshell just days before Christmas.

The Arts Council has announced it plans to axe the subsidy it gives the 70-year-old theatre - more than £176,000.

Anonymous said...

The cuts apply to 194 of 900+ organisations given regular funding by ACE. The intention, as I understand it, is the desire to fund organisations that provide excellent art and/or excellent community engagement as well as being well run and sustainable organisations.

The cuts are happening across the country, rural and urban, north and south - the main difference being the way different ACE offices choose to deal with it: some spread out the cuts, others put more into those they consider best, but make larger cuts elsewhere. There are two (related, but distinguishable) issues here - the general policy and specific decisions.

The full story will become clearer at the end of the month, b/c so far, who they are funding at what level hasn't been officially announced (or finalised). The picture may look different then: after all, it's not possible to fund any new organisations without cutting funding to some.

The Olympics *are* an issue (ACE got a modest increase in the Spending Review, but some was linked to future Olympic projects - also the cuts in the Lottery funds b/c of 2012 has been dramatic). (But to be clear - 'regular funding' is not from Lottery funds itself - though other Arts Council funds *are*, and will be cut as a result).

Emerging changes in the arts could fit well with Conservative values. What is unfortunate though, is that the Conservative party has little engagement with or presence in the subsidised arts sector.

Far more of the UK's arts infrastructure is subsidised (by both the Arts Council and Local Authorities) than the public (or audiences) usually realise. Arts funding has a wide impact and as a result, this 'disinvestment' programme (and the new funding of organisations that will come after) will make a difference to lots of the population. I'm glad you're dscussing it.

The Military Wing Of The BBC said...

Out snout new trough pass the sick bucket

Blair gets job at JP Morgan

Can "International Diplomats" take private sector jobs?

The Military Wing Of The BBC said...

.....for sometime now many banking analysts have been running a sweep on which international bank is going to have done its nuts the most.

JP Morgan have now got be favourites .... talk about eye of the ball whist. They've been fiddling with Tone's expenses whilst their Tier One burnt.

copydude said...

'Actors Boo Arts Council Over Swingeing Cuts'

- Britain's acting community yesterday declared it had no confidence in the Arts Council England, which is cutting money to nearly 200 groups in the biggest shake-up of arts funding in living memory.,,2238141,00.html

Actually, it isn't the biggest shake up in memory, since Tessa Jowell cut 30M from the budget in 2004.

The budget was effectively frozen in recent years - a cut across the board in real terms.

Scipio said...

Because (1) rural communities have few votes, and the votes that they do have tend to be Tory, (2) because they economy is going down the pan and (3) because the combination of Northern Rock and the Olympics is costing the country dear and (4) Broon is running of ideas on how to squeeze ever more out of our pockets?

Classic New Labour book balancing!

Anonymous said...

If you Wan't cheep food,
Now here's the deal.
fammily farms are brought to heel
The Coffin of our English dream,
lies out on the village greeen,
where Agri! Barrons,
CAP in hand ,
strip this green and pleasent land,
Steve Knightley Show of Hands
Available on youtube
Hugh FW

Anonymous said...

The London Bubble Theatre which is currently doing a production of The Tinderbox in Oxleas Wood has just had its budget cut by 100% by the Arts Council.

Their aim is to bring accessible theatre to children and their parents in London in new and interesting ways - for example the current production involves the audience following the players through the wood for each new scene.

Still, in a few years we'll get 14 days of doped-up atheletes running around newly built and afterwards rapidly deserted Olympic sites. Bargain.

Snafu said...

Why do rural arts need to be subsidised? If the locals value them, they will pay to see them!

Anonymous said...

Cuts in the Arts, cuts at Inland Waterways, cuts in Science teaching, cuts cuts everywhere. This is surely not just the ghastly Olympics but the reasult of ten years (from the 1998 budget)of Gordon Browns spectacutlar and deliberate splurging in true Socialist style of the golden harvest garnered from the 1981 budget and the excellent pulling out from the ERM which had given us 15 years of growth.

The man is either incompetant, not knowing what he is doing, or deliberately perverting taxpayers money, in the Labour party interest, not Britains interest, just as with the pension tax debacle and latterly Northern Rock.

(Just reading Tom Bowers book too - it gets worse)

When, oh when, are the public going to catch up with the truth about this vile and dangerous hypocrite??

Unsworth said...

@ Chris Paul:

"Nonetheless the settlements for the winners and overall now are much much better than pre 1997."

You have a source for this or is it opinion only?

Strangely I agree with much of your other comment. I'll try not to make a habit of it, though.

Anonymous said...

How the subsidies are distributed and whether the Arts should be subsidised are two separate issues.

I'm against State subsidies for the Arts, but since we have them, they should be fair. James Purnell is quoted as saying "it's about the reclamation of excellence from its historic elitist undertones". Just add the weasel words 'inclusion' and 'diversity' and you probably have the real reasons for the swingeing cuts in some regions.

Bryan Appleyard said...

Forgive me, Iain, but I think you have just achieved the most boring blog headline ever.

Anonymous said...

Surely in your beloved Thatcherite paradise all cultural activity is reliant on raising its own revenue rather than state funding?

Just think of the tax cuts... oh of course i forgot Tories love cutting givt spending untill it actually effects them.

Anonymous said...

The Watermans Arts Centre in Brentford has also had its funding slashed - it's not just rural areas.

Anonymous said...

I hope it's cut its grant to the Notting Hill Carnival and to Ken's numerous celebrations of diversity and to all those boring agitprop plays whose object is to tell people what to think rather than to entertain. The Arts were far superior and more entertaining before the Arts Council starting funding the art, music and theatre that no-one wanted to see ot hear. The Beatles didn't need grants. Neither did Alan Aykbourn or Alan Bennett or David Hockney.

Anonymous said...

Charles Spencer had a rant about this in the Telegraph just before New Year as the Yvonne Arnaud in Guildford has had its funding slashed. He suggested attracting white, middle-class audiences is to blame - the former being impossible to avoid in North Norfolk.

He said:

In Jack and the Beanstalk, a wicked giant terrorises the citizens and reduces a happy and productive community to penury. Just like the Arts Council, in fact, which decided to celebrate its larger-than-expected Government grant by cutting a couple of hundred of its clients this Christmas.

No doubt a fair number of them deserved to be dropped. The essence of art is change, and organisations can grow sclerotic. There is no point in subsidising bad art when you could give more to companies that are really delivering the goods.

But I have a hunch that at least some of these cuts have been inspired by the Arts Council's notorious meddling and political correctness, and what it regards as the failure of some companies to tick the required boxes when it comes to reaching Stalinist targets on such matters as outreach, education, ethnic minorities and yoof.

How else to explain the cutting of such blameless bodies as the London Mozart Players, the Northcott Theatre in Exeter and the Yvonne Arnaud in Guildford, all of which I suspect play primarily to middle-aged, middle-class, mostly white audiences?

This is regarded as the worst kind of complacency among right-on arts bureaucrats, who have turned "access" into a modish mantra. Culture that appeals primarily to the educated middle-classes is perversely regarded as something automatically suspect.

Man in a Shed said...

Might these rural areas be ones that don't vote Labour by any chance ?

More heat maps and moral corruption.

Anonymous said...

snafu 8:01

Us rurals may not value the BBC but we have to pay for it too

Anonymous said...

The Nothcott Theatre (Exeter) debacle is even more ridiculous as the Arts Council is going to close the Theatre immediately after completing its refurbishment

Anonymous said...

Bryan Appleyard at 8:27

To be honest, after "Spend the night with me" it was always going to be downhill from then on...

Anonymous said...

Sorry Iain but they say

"We have several, always well attended and generally sold out, of their touring productions (music, plays poetry etc) in the Village Hall each year and they loan us the equipment and training for our monthly village cinema."

Aren't conservatives for the free market? Shouldn't you press for them to support themselves??

Alan Duncan announced yesterday that tories would support nuclear power but not if it was subsidised.

The party thinks that powering the country shouldn't be supported but village hall productions should be???? Very odd logic

Also this letter said "This in turn raises funds for the Village Hall" if they are making a profit from it maybe the subsidy should be reduced. Otherwise theyre just building a village hall at the taxpayers expense!

Where is your free market conservatism?

Thatcher's Child said...

Local Arts shouldn't be funded by the tax payer. If its any good, the door receipts will pay for it!

Anonymous said...

Iain - Rural areas suffer disproportionately from this sort of thing because so many organisations' targets are based around "number of people served" or "number of people who can access the service within a fifteen minute walk" etc.

You're just more likely to meet that sort of criterion if you stick stuff in the middle of Manchester than in the middle of Cumbria.

Desperate Dan said...

Rural areas are very good at raising money for charitable causes and, innocents that they are, they usually send it to fraudsters and sleazebags in Romania or Africa. If they had any sense at all they'd plough it into their own communities.

copydude said...

Here, specifically, is where the Arts Council money will be channelled.


"Cultural projects will run throughout the Games, showing off the cultural diversity of the UK to the world.

The Olympic Park will be full of activity – and not just because of the competing athletes.

From big screens and music performances to interactive kids zones and cultural showcases, visitors will find a whole host of activities to take part in alongside the exciting sporting spectacle.

Between the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games London will be filled with carnival, drawing on traditions from across the world – Asian Mela, Mardi Gras, Latino, Caribbean and more.

A range of world-class street theatre, circus and carnival activity will take place in the five Host Boroughs and around London."

Anonymous said...

Why are there "rural arts initiatives"?

I have never understood why "the arts" should be subsidised. People will pay for what they want. Subsidies are to push agendas.

Anonymous said...

Desperate Dan 12:32- A thoughtful and highly practical comment.

The fellow with the Cyrllic alphabet quotes the following garbage:

"Cultural projects will run throughout the Games, showing off the cultural diversity of the UK to the world.

"From big screens and music performances to interactive kids zones and cultural showcases, visitors will find a whole host of activities to take part in alongside the exciting sporting spectacle." Sounds exciting, huh?

A press office of the Politburo couldn't have written it any better.

Also, Britain is 91% indigenous British or European, so we're not culturally diverse, no matter how much the neo-Fascists want to believe it is so. Also, the rest of the world doesn't give a flying crap whether Britain is culturally diverse or not or whether it has over-tokenised TV presenters to give a phony picture. Foreigners will come to watch drugged up athletes with ropey muscles.

Anyway, does the facility discussed above remind you of anything? Another New Labour wild success story? The Millennium Dome, for example?

BTW, How are they going to demonstrate the rich cultural vibrancy of islam, given that they don't have any arts and all the women look like badly bagged potatoes?

Desperate Dan said...

Kaliningrad, That sounds like the Dome all over again. An opportunity for Michael Grade and Jonathan Shallott to extract a wacking great commission for providing tacky cut price variety acts.

Anonymous said...

'World class street theatre, circus and carnival in the 5 host boroughs and around London' -

oh my god, as an East London resident, shivers of apprehension not to mention fear run down my spine - for crying out loud, why hasn't anyone asked me if I mind my city being mauled like this, and if I mind paying for it too?

Anonymous said...

Verity - "I have never understood why "the arts" should be subsidised"...

If you don't 'get it' then you don't 'get it'. You either understand the importance of making art and culture accessible - or you just don't get it.

Culture is important and art is for all (not just the wealthy or the educated). If you don't support the arts and artists - then you don't deserve to live in a civilised society.

I think it's disgraceful that the British Council is getting rid of their art department. Read the Guardian on Saturday to learn more about this tragedy.

Anonymous said...

Subsidy is necessary in order for two things to happen.

First, that the creative energy of artists can be encouraged and not stymied.

Second, that a larger proportion of people can enjoy the creative fruits of such energy than would be able to if prices were not subsidised.

There are economic arguments in favour as well (tourism, international business relations etc.), but that's probably a bit complicated for a mere "anon" to engage with here. i look forward to Iain's promised piece on the subject.

If you've never understood that, you've never really lived.

Anonymous said...

Subsidy is necessary in order for two things to happen.

First, that the creative energy of artists can be encouraged and not stymied.

Second, that a larger proportion of people can enjoy the creative fruits of such energy than would be able to if prices were not subsidised.

There are economic arguments in favour as well (tourism, international business relations etc.), but that's probably a bit complicated for a mere "anon" to engage with here. i look forward to Iain's promised piece on the subject.

If you've never understood that, you've never really lived.

Anonymous said...

Jeremy Vine did a programme on this last week, and interviewed people from the Northcott Theatre in Exeter and other theatres. The theatres are jumping through all the hoops that government requires them to, but the money is cut off anyway. The problem is not just rural (places like Exeter and Ipswich are cities). Why is this happening? Every decision is taken by Gordon Brown: presumably he just doesn't like people who go to the theatre, and it is in his power to hurt them.

Tom Bower exposes Brown's ignorance of rural affairs. Apparently Brown was in the country and saw a cow with its newborn calf from the window of his car, and said, "Look, it's had a foal!"

Anonymous said...

Canvas - Thanks for the lefty boilerplate and for your invitation to read Saturday's Guardian to have it explained to me. Unfortunately, I have a previous engagement.

You say: "If you don't support the arts and artists - then you don't deserve to live in a civilised society."

Actually, I do support them, darling. I buy tickets, which is what people in civilised societies do.

If someone can find a wealthy patron, which the artists of yore were wont to do, good luck to that person. I don't believe Shakespeare ever got a grant or, as you lefties call it "funding".

If a piece of work has appeal to the public, a paying audience will gladly hand over their money at the box office. If it doesn't attract the public, that means it's not wanted. Not that it should be subsidized at the point of a gun.

[5:20] If something doesn't find a market, that means the public isn't interested. It isn't up to "funding" quangoes to work against the public interest by giving money to productions that people won't pay to see.

This dream of bringing performances to "the people" who can't afford it is rubbish. First, they can afford plasma TVs and holidays abroad on their welfare cheques, so why not the theatre? Could it be because they prefer TV?

Do these "funding" quangoes ever give money to right wing productions? Just askin'.

Socialist rhetoric is not going to make you any converts here. Taxpayers have other things to spend the small amount of money the mighty state allows them to keep on.

Anonymous said...

Re v's comment 'if it's any good the door receipts will pay for it' and verity's comment that she doesn't see why the arts should be subsidised:

The arts paying their way would only be true in a situation where 'the arts' as a whole were very different from how they are now. For example, little opera, ballet or large scale classical music can pay its way, a point accentuated by the need for substantial investment 'upstream' to train performers.

Art galleries can make some money from ticketed blockbuster exhibitions and sponsorship, but not sufficient to run a major gallery, let alone cover the cost of acquisitions.

Geographical disparities would become even greater than at present. London can support large-scale commercial art and theatre sectors, but where else could?

Some people would be comfortable with this scenario, of course. But it's worth being clear that it's not a case of saving a bit of money and things being more or less the same.

Of course you may think it would be good to reduce grant-dependency over time. But if you wanted to achieve that, you may find yourself recommending many of the steps that ACE are curently putting in place: focussing funding on organisations that it believes are well run, forward-thinking, responsive to audiences, businesslike and innovative.

Anonymous said...

verity, presumably you extend the free-market argument to other private goods like education.

If it's any good, people will pay more than it costs and it will happen. School and University budgets should therefore immediately be cut to zero, no matter what the real cost of bankruptcies.

Is that really what you are proposing?

Anonymous said...

The fact that Damien Hirst could find buyers for his Shark and his diamond-encrusted Skull, and that Chris Ofile can find millionaires to buy his elephant dung 'creations' is evidence that there are private funds available to subsidise the arts.

Why don't the rich and famous actors give some of their Hollywood fees to the struggling provincial theatres? Sean Connery could probably buy and run 6 of them for 25 years without noticing.

Anonymous said...

[9:35] I believe in vouchers for education. It is taxpayer money being spent for the benefit of the taxpayer (an educated population) rather than half a dozen quangoes and hundreds if no thousands of people who feel their "art" is so important to the welfare of the nation that it should be subsidized by people who actually work and pay taxes.

If people want a house or a car or an evening at the theatre, they will pay for it. People are more than willing to fork over money for something they want. This "funding" forces people to fork over their money for something they have proved they don't want by not buying tickets.

If it's not good enough to motivate people to pay for it, why should it be subsidised so it can be offered free?

I can even see subsidised tickets for OAPs and groups of school children. All others, pay for what you want to go and see. You don't need a middleman in the form of the taxpayer and a committee of quangocrats.

Anonymous said...

Verity -

Perhaps what you're saying could be expressed as two related issues - whether arts should be funded at all and what role market choices should play in financing the arts. Would it sit comfortably with your values if funding was linked to earned income (so what people don't pay to go and see isn't funded, but what they do, gets a proportionate match)?

Although, following what jdc said, this is likely to result in a big shift away from rural areas.

Anonymous said...

[10:49] - It's no one's responsibility to take the arts to rural areas. People live in rural areas by choice - whether work or inclination. They understand that they are not living in London or Glasgow.

They understand that they can get on a train or a bus and go to the nearest big city to go to art galleries and an evening, or afternoon, performance.

what is all this boondoggle of taking performance to villages, as though Britain wasn't a tiny country where you can go to London or Newcastle in a couple of hours, watch a performance, go to an art gallery, have a meal and go home again? It's not like Russians living on the Steppes in the middle of winter, for heaven's sakes. Anyone who wants to see a play can do so in Britain.

Alternatively, they can rent a video. It's not the same as seeing her live in a theatre, but watching a video of Darcy Bussell is still transporting. Plus you can have a whisky.

This is another socialist boondoogle.

So is the Olympics, by the way. Socialist One Worlders.

Anonymous said...

"Anyone who wants to see a play can do so in Britain."

Very true, and largely because the arts are subsidised.

Shakespeare certainly required subsidy, as have most artists since and before. Some decades ago, we in the UK decided to devote a relatively small amount of taxpayer money to supplement the patronage of individuals. nothing wrong with that.

There really isn't any need to insult contributors, Verity, it merely exposes your own lack of intellect (even more than your analyses do!)

Anonymous said...

Verity, Like I said, you just don't 'get it'.

Commercialism, orthodoxy and taste are the enemies of art.

As our society gets more and more materialistic we tend to overlook the importance of art.

Perhaps Sir John Tusa explains it best:

"The arts matter because they are local and relevant to the needs and wishes of local people. They help citizens to express their needs and to clothe them in memorable forms. They offer a way of expressing ideas and wishes that ordinary politics do not allow. The arts regenerate the rundown and rehabilitate the neglected. Arts buildings lift the spirits, create symbols that people identify with, and give identity to places that may not have one. Where the arts start, jobs follow. Anywhere that neglects the arts shortchanges its people."

"Now all of that is true. The arts have acted as a pole of economic and social regeneration in many places. At the same time, it is worth insisting (as the architect David Chipperfield has pointed out) that while the arts may be a necessary condition of post-industrial regeneration, they are not a sufficient condition. The so-called Bilbao effect was not achieved primarily by building Frank Gehry's Guggenheim museum. That building followed a period of sustained local-government investment in infrastructure, including a new underground system."

"The final value of the arts cannot be predicted or quantified; to curtail them on these grounds is to deny the possibility of an unpredictable benefit. The risk of funding the arts offers benefits far greater than the immediate gains of not funding them. The arts link society to its past, a people to its inherited store of ideas, images and words; yet the arts challenge those links in order to find ways of exploring new paths and ventures. The arts are evolutionary and revolutionary; they listen, recall and lead. They resist the homogeneous, strengthen the individual and are independent in the face of the pressures of the mass, the bland, the undifferentiated. In a postmodern world, in which individual creativity has never mattered more, the arts provide the opportunity for developing this characteristic. The investment in the arts is so small, the actual return so large, that it represents value as research into ideas."

Anonymous said...

canvas you scupper the case by overstating it.

A lot of art is shit, and a lot of artists are greedy bores, no more devoted to the public good than greedy cabinet ministers.

Verity - do you support art vouchers?

Anonymous said...

anon, it's all subjective.

all great chefs eat at McDonalds.

high brow loves low brow, low brow loves high brow.

so what?

Anonymous said...

So if it is subjective, whose subjective opinion should be able to choose it? Art vouchers would, like education vouchers, enable joe public to choose, rather than just Sir Humphrey.

There would be some kerfuffle over whether an event qualified for an art voucher (it would make the "is it art?" debate a bit more meaty) - but book / record tokens seem to have managed to live with those nuances for years.

On a wider point, why have any vouchers at all? Why not just transfer cash? Grandparents give book tokens rather than cash for obvious reasons, but the vouchers are valued at less than their face value (partly because many are not redeemed).

Why is an educated public a public rather than private good? People take their education with them and emigrate to the highest salaries.

Anonymous said...

Canvas and John Michael - Why is the left so universally trite?

Why do they never address the argument of those with an opposing view, but get stuck right into the insults? Well, I suppose it saves time ...

You will note here and elsewhere, that people on the right try to argue the issues - until they realise that the issues in the collective consciousness of the left, is "I am right so you will do it my way." After which the right will sometimes deliver a verbal torpedo that is equally irrelevant to the issue.

We on the right have stated that we do not believe an over-mighty government has any business diverting taxpayers' money to taking "art to the people", because we understand the human impulse to go after what they want without any prompting from the government. Anyone who wants to go to the theatre, will go.

These arts subsidies, and I don't care how small they are, are robbery and are for the benefit of writers, artists and luvvies, not the audiences. No one has persuaded me that it is the business of the state to be a patron of the arts, a la the USSR.

"There really isn't any need to insult contributors, Verity, it merely exposes your own lack of intellect (even more than your analyses do!)" With an exclamation point!!!!! The crutch of the inarticulate. Regarding your assessment of my "intellect", you took your degree in psychology where?

Every single one of you lefties descends to personal insults the minute your fingers hit the keys. This is why no one reads your turgid, predictable posts all the way through.

Anonymous said...


What (if anything) do you think it is the state's business to be a patron of?

As you have identified there are at least 2 issues:

1. (Funding) Should the State force people i.e. tax payers to pay for some specific goods or services?
2. (Purchasing) Should the State or people purchase those goods/services?

You've suggested (1) that the state should force people to pay for the public's education but that (2) people should themselves determine what the money is spent on.

Just on the funding issue, what else do you think the state should patronise, on e way or another?

Anonymous said...

I only read Verity's remarks for the fun of seeing some-one so utterly defeated struggle to put up a fight. The vituperative rubbish spills out, accusing her victims of the very ad hominem claptrap that is her unique characteristic on this site.

Learn to discern, old thing, it's never too late. Read somethiing other than vacuous drivel on the internet blog sites. Try some literature - you can probably download some for free nowadays.

Anonymous said...

john m

tu quoque

Anonymous said...

Oh, dear! John M lurches in on right on cue to prove my point.

No engagement in the discussion. Just insults. Insults. Insults.

Anonymous said...

Verity says "They understand that they can get on a train or a bus and go to the nearest big city to go to art galleries and an evening, or afternoon, performance."

Which shows the bottomless depth of your understanding. Bus? Train? The nearest train to here is 45 minutes drive away. And buses? Don't make me laugh.

So without arts coming to the villages the elderly, the rural poor and children would be left permanently sitting at home with a video of Darcy Bussell and a whisky (hopefully not the children though).

Anonymous said...

Toots - With respect, obviously you know what you are talking about re trains and buses, but your entertainment in your village is not the responsibility of the taxpayer.

Having weighed up the advantages of living there, you presumably also weighed up the disadvantages, and chose to say. It is not up to some very well paid unelected quango paid from taxes to compensate you for the disadvantages out of money taken from taxpayers. The socialists have created an entitlement society, which is destructive.

I do believe that children should be subsidised to go on theatre trips because it is part of their education. With respect, live entertainment for adults is not a part of the government's/quangos' business. Lookslike Darcey Bussell and the whisky for you.

I have an eerie feeling that these unelected, pointless quangoes also perpetrate mimes.

copydude said...

I note in today's Guardian that the British Council's art department is also being shut down.