I read an interesting article in the Telegraph this morning on funding in the Arts. As part of my course I have to consider how music impacts on society so I found this article quite appropriate at the moment. If Arts organisations can’t prove they benefit the UK economy they face having their public funding withdrawn warns the Culture Secretary Maria Millar MP. My Dad is very practical and business minded so he would probably say this is necessary for tax payer support and investment in the Arts but I can understand why this “is bound to provoke anger in the arts world” as Peter Dominiczak the Political Correspondent writes because Art isn’t just about dividends to me it’s about purpose, beauty, feelings and a healthy society enriched by beautiful sounds and objects to see and touch.
I’m trying my best to self fund a singing trip to Italy with a small group from the Conservatoire, I’ve saved enough doing office work in my Christmas and Easter break for the Easy Jet fares and between now and June I need to save for expenses over there, so I’m going to economise with my weekly allowance, cook cheaper meals, fortunately I don’t like alcohol so much. So I guess when the Treasury is telling Maria Millar her department has big cuts in her grants for spending it will be tough deciding where to cut.
The article says “Leading cultural figures including Danny Boyle and Sir Nicholas Hytner have attacked the cuts and warned that Britain’s status as a world leader in culture is at risk”. Maria Millar is expected to say “Government will only fund “participants – not bystanders” in the Arts and that “in an age of austerity, when times are tough and money is tight, our focus must be on culture’s economic impact…we must demonstrate the healthy dividends that our investment continues to pay – I need all your help in that endeavour”. Finally the article quotes her saying “Like in so many other areas, I believe we tread a happy middle path between the American model, based on benefactor-funding, and the European approach, based on state subsidy,” she will say. “Our system encourages risk-taking, but discourages complacency.”
Mrs Miller wants Arts organisations to focus on getting philanthropic donations to supplement their funding. So on this theme Mum! Dad! Are you reading? Feeling philanthropic 😉 ?
Seriously though, if they do cut funding who can the Arts rely on? If we are to become more commercially orientated then we will need to use the funding from State subsidies to reach larger audiences and encourage those audiences to engage with the Arts or risk losing access to them.
UPDATE 13th June 2013
I read an interesting article today in the Guardian online by Charlotte Higgins titled Arts groups warned they face total loss of funding. In the article Charlotte Higgins says “It’s a philosophical question of whether you want to preserve England’s artistic heritage or support innovation. There are strong lobbies both ways within the Arts Council and it will go to the wire.” Click here for the Arts Council website.