Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Having lefties in charge of the arts means the taxpayer has to go on footing the bill

The subsidised arts lobby is out in force today, wailing, gnashing its teeth and rending its designer label garments in the streets over brutal Arts Council cuts. The Council has decided – for reasons best known to itself -  not to simply impose a 15% across the board cut (which would strike most of us as fair), but instead to single out certain galleries, theatre companies and other bodies for especially generous treatment, while entirely cutting funding for others.

For instance, the Arcola Theatre in East London has been given a funding increase of 82% (to around £300,000). It is described as a fringe theatre dedicated to making itself carbon neutral. Don’t all rush for tickets!

The Ministry of Stories is a new Arts Council-created body in East London (very popular place these days, evidently) is a creative writing centre that looks to encourage young people to write outside of school. (Strikes me that encouraging them to learn to read and write properly inside school might be more to the point.)

Faber & Faber, a private publishing company last time I looked, is to get £40,000 – the first time it has been funded. (I wonder how it has managed to keep going for 83 years without knocking on my door, asking for a hand-out.)

The Camden Arts Centre (a “contemporary visual arts space” - you can just imagine the kind of crap on display) is to get an increase of 30%. What is the point of turfing Labour out of power if we’re going to keep rewarding its heartlands with yet more money?

Punchdrunk, an “immersive theatre company” (no idea) gets an increase of 141%. 

I don’t know which criteria the Arts Council’s cultural gauleiters apply when making decisions – whatever makes them feel good about themselves, I expect. Many of the organisations benefitting from our largesse sound as if they’ve been made up by Private Eye, and I presume that all of them (apart from Faber & Faber) are run by old-fashioned agit-prop leftists. If this is true (and we know in our hearts that none of the organisations I’ve listed will include a single Tory), it seems germane to ask why a Tory government is handing over any of our money to political activists?

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been writing to big companies asking them to increase the amount they give to the arts – private funding accounts for just 15% of the total, standing at £660 million, give or take a few bob. In the United States, many of whose cities boast an extremely lively arts scene – orchestras, galleries, theatres and the like – private funding account for 95% of all arts subsidies. 

I suppose it’s partly because more American companies are owned by Americans, rather than by global corporations (and that more global corporations are owned by Americans in any case). Rich Americans are allowed to keep more of their money (which’ll no doubt change if the useless communist currently occupying the White House wins a second term). It’s also to do with the entrenched American distaste for state interference in basic human activities such as the creation and enjoyment of art. Not having an aristocracy, Americans don’t feel the same prejudice towards the idea of private patronage (in the UK, of course, patronage is dispensed by the liberal intelligensia, using our money). Here, people making their way up from the ranks don’t seem to feel any need to adopt the cultural enthusiasm of their social betters – in fact, depressingly, they seem determined not to let unaccustomed wealth broaden their cultural horizons.

I imagine there’s one other factor preventing our business leaders from being more generous to the Arts, and that’s the fact  that our arts establishment is entirely run by committed left-wingers who despise business in general, and, in particular,  all those business people who didn’t spend the thirteen years up to May 2010 enthusiastically crawling up Tony Blair’s and Gordon Brown’s sphincters. 
How many leading British artists, actors, playwrights, novelists, film-makers and poets have expressed pro-Tory sympathies during the past thirty years? And, in comparison, how many have come out in support of the Labour Party? (Probably simpler to list those who didn’t.) How much subsidised cinema looks at the world from a conservative or right-wing perspective? How many new plays at the National have spoken up in support of Queen and Country or the armed forces or the rule of law or private property or the importance of custom and tradition or the established church?

If I were rich, why the hell would I want to hand over any more of my money or that of my company to a bunch of lefties who’d basically like to see me impoverished, humiliated, and then strung up?

Being rich and successful isn’t invariably an indication of a keen intelligence or exquisite aesthetic taste – but it does rather imply that you aren’t a total bloody mug! 

1 comment:

  1. Fabber & Fabber makes a profit. Why is the taxpayer funding a profitable publisher? Yes it’s for a non-profit scheme for new poets but why can’t Fabber fund it out of its profits? They will be giving money to Top Shop next (and Next, I shouldn’t wonder). Writing poems, painting pictures and writing novels are solitary pursuits which shouldn’t require any form of funding. Not a single worthwhile poem, painting or novel would be lost and a lot of bad ones wouldn’t see the light of day if we stopped subsidising the producers.
    Friday, April 1, 2011 - 02:40 PM