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The value of the Arts

Aug 10, 2012 | Blogs

Just what will it take to get the Government to recognise the value of the Arts in this country.  We have repeatedly shown that the Arts bring in more in taxes and tourism than is returned to them in the form of grants.  But even this argument to a “market forces mustprevail” administration fails to influence the powers that be.  Of course there are other sections of the community that need support and no one can deny the claims of the health service and the whole spectrum of social welfare.  But the Arts are different – they are self supporting in the overall sense.  It is also our past, present and future cultural heritage that is at stake.


But however strongly we make our case as above it is impossible to convince the Government to recognise the value of a strong Arts movement in this country.  However much we attempt to cajole and educate, our words fall on deaf ears.  We care but they do not.



Does it really need the collapse of a subsidised theatre or a failed West End production to give the underfunding of the arts the oxygen of publicity.  Because the Arts are continually bemoaning their financial plight, they are failing to make any impact to get their case recognised.  They appear to be crying wolf and if an Arts project fails, the public are immune to the long term ramifications. 



It has all become so boring, so repetitive, that the cassandras are now old hat.  The luvvies are at it again-ha! ha!



What does it take to get the message home?  Demonstrations are only news for the celebrities that take part.  Television which ultimately gets its product from the whole arts genre seems blissfully unaware of the problems as it devotes much wasted time upon the recognisable individual rather than the underlying disease of underfunding that is eating into the stability of every art form.



Sponsorship is all but drying up as companies and individuals have come to realise that they are propping up the arts scene, thus abrogating what has been a Government responsibility since time immemorial.  We pay our taxes so why should we pay more to underwrite what is not within our remit.  Benefactors, donors, endowment funds, trusts and charitable arms and institutions belonging to international companies are tired of the buck being passed to them. 



In any case they do not have the funds available.  Despite what the Government says, the recession is still with us never more so than in the Arts.  One has to look at  the facts, not be blinded by the statistics released by a slick publicity machine.  Massaging the figures does not cure a problem, it merely aggravates it.



The arts create employment for millions, but no one up there seems to recognise the worth of this.  Just because artists of all persuasions are used to being unemployed, it does not mean that all is well within the Arts.  Just because they do not continually complain, does not make the problem go away.  It is demeaning to be unemployed and the social stigma is still there even though it is now regrettably a way of life.



Can no one see the excitement of a flourishing arts scene? The

recent debacle over the funding of the orchestras shows that no one has any idea of what goes on at grass roots.  The Arts are there to be enjoyed, and as has been frequently said, albeit to deaf ears, they are self supporting.  The Government is cynically siphoning off the monies brought in, to other ventures.



Has no one heard the squeals of children in a theatre?  The applause after a concert?  Seen the public absorbed in an art gallery?  An Arts centre thronging with excited families?  A museum packed with eager faces?  The tourists queuing to go in to see our national treasures?  People gazing in rapt attention at our marvellous but now decaying buildings?



And all the while, the arts product contracts.  New ventures are now few and far between.  The theatre relies on past successes and cannot afford to invest in new plays.  For example “Oliver” is coming back for goodness sake!  The theatrical fringe cannot survive without experimentation just to make its books balance.  The casts in plays are reducing.



Why can other countries in similar financial plight encourage aid and abet their arts?  Why can other countries be prepared to fund their arts to subsistence level and not below it like us?  Why is the rest of the world proud of their achievements and we philistines think of our cultural heritage as an encumbrance?



Would anyone really worry if the whole arts scene died and went away.  A temporary blip on a statistic?  Is the public, so weaned on television with its multi channels, immune to live art in all its forms.  Perhaps the whole arts spectrum should close down for a week to get the message home.



What are we leaving for the next generation?  A reduced repeat of what is going on now?



Quite frankly – is there anyone out there who cares anymore – I doubt it …….






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