… WARNING! WARNING! Ranting may be closer than appears.
Recent cuts to the arts, as announced in the Autumn Statement, are depressing to say the least. The Arts Council England, who alongside the National Lottery, play a key role in funding new and independent arts projects in the UK have received the dire news that their Grant in aid will receive cuts of £3.9 million (1 per cent) in 2013/14 and £7.7 million (2 per cent) in 2014/15.*
The minister for Culture, Media and Sport, Maria Miller, says that the country won’t go for any less than these cuts in the current financial climate. There may have a hint of truth in that, especially considering that it is not just the arts that are being badly hit, I don’t buy it. I realise that the last round of cuts deeply hit regional theatres (whereas some inside the M25 saw an increase), this is coming from a woman that when pushed to identify recent productions that she has seen seen could just name Three Sisters at the “New Vic”. It’s the Young Vic and you should really think about seeing plays that aren’t from the cannon and gain a better understanding of what this money can do and, most importantly, what it is you’re supposed to be fighting for as CSM minister especially when local government, such as Newcastle Council, are cutting arts subsidy, to remove the sources of help is insane, irrespective of lottery funding – which is ace. For what it’s worth, here’s her blog post on the matter.
Only recently, a host of homegrown, successful talent spoke out against the cuts and advised government of it’s importance including Nick Hytner, a man behind several successful theatre shows as Artistic Director of The National Theatre (since 2003, including that War Horse), and as Director (Miss Saigon, The History Boys and One Man, Two Guvnors – transferred to Broadway) Stephen Daldry, Artistic Director of the Royal Court Theatre 1992-98 and film director (Billy Elliot, The Hours, The Reader) and Exec Producer for London2012 ceremonies, as well as Danny Boyle, who started directing in the theatre (and whose successes are too many to name).
Apparently it fell on deaf ears and if the government won’t listen to these people who are successful, and do make money for the country, who will they listen to? Since the recession hit, they have been encouraging banks to invest in SMEs and though they are more than happy to take a cut of the profits from the arts, they don’t appear to be leading by example.
Don’t get me wrong I love this country, very much, I just don’t like some of the arse-about-face decisions the government is making, all the while claiming it is for the country’s benefit.
Theatre and the arts are there to entertain, yes, but it is also there to educate. And perhaps that is why cutting the funding seems like a good idea because:
The theatre is one of the most expressive and useful instruments for building up a country, it is the barometer of its greatest or decline. An intelligent theatre, well orientated in all its branches … can change the sensibility of people within a few years; a disintegrated theatre, with clumsy hooves instead of wings, can cheapen and lull into sleep an entire nation.
Because if we’re all dumbed-down, we won’t speak up and vote for change, will we?
Originally by Federico García Lorca, read the complete article by Lyn Gardner on The Guardian.
*Ref: Arts Council spending review