In the past few weeks UK politics has rightly been dominated by The Telegraph’s revelations about MPs’ expense claims. Meanwhile other issues have taken a back seat – for example tax subsidies for the arts, where some of the public bodies concerned seem happy to practice similar forms of “corruption”. The Arts Council itself provides taxpayer subsidies for close to a thousand organisations, most clamouring for more “funding”.
According to Kevin Spacey, writing in the Times, there is nothing unseemly about this:“… it seems an odd slur to accuse Dame Judi Dench, Antony Gormley, Philip Pullman, and Nicholas Serota of being biased merely for having spoken out on behalf of their own professions” – i.e. to rob taxpayers further, despite them being already robbed on a greater scale than ever.
Who cares, says Kevin: “Many arts institutions are suffering, and without political will and public support will struggle to survive the chill winds of recession”, so that “We risk allowing our rich cultural life to be diminished…”
As for our rich cultural life, I can see the riches but not much culture. And it’s interesting to recall that the composers on show at last year’s “proms” included Mozart, Beethoven, Grieg, Debussy, Gershwin, Chopin and Verdi. I wonder how many of them (and their ample audiences) were funded by “public investment”?
Pipe down, Kevin. I suggest it is hardly cultured to shout for more money from pensioners or savers, for instance, when many of the former have lost huge portions of their retirement income and many of the latter have seen their income docked by as much as 80 per cent. Now that is suffering.
Culture? More like a cult, I’d say.
Further reading: Should the Taxpayer Support the Arts? by David Sawers.