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September 11, 2007

Luvvies and Artistes

Poor oppressed little things:

But the loss earlier this year of £152m over the next four years of lottery funding committed to the arts and heritage, coming on top of earlier losses, was a serious blow.
For this, adequate public funding is essential.

Arts Council England gets some £500 million a year of Treasury dosh. That's the ransom the luvvies and artistes insist upon to support the rest of the welfare state. If chavs are to have their tabs money then the dim younger sons and daughters of the upper middle classes should also have their dole.

Abolish the lot of it.

September 11, 2007 in Your Tax Money at Work | Permalink


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I'm never quite as hostile to Arts Council funding as many right-wingers. Whilst I wish it was spent more effectively, the notion of publically-subsidising art doesn't offend me any more than the notion of publically-subsidising libraries does. Being able to freely read Shakespeare is one thing, being able to see it is another. Societies are built on a shared cultural heritage and it is important that as much of that is accessible as possible. However, whilst I may agree with the general concept of funding, I still reserve the right to complain about how the money is spent.

Posted by: Philip Thomas | Sep 11, 2007 10:04:01 AM

Arts subsidies should be abolished.
Brian Micklethwait (IIRC) has somewhere a good article on the effects of the subsidy in creating 'low' and 'high' art and the increasing divide between the two.

If people wish to see plays, let them pay for it themselves and give them the tax money back.

Posted by: Tristan Mills | Sep 11, 2007 11:31:00 AM

I am with Philip's more moderate stance, stuff like public libraries, museums, art galleries seems OK to me (the people who work there are largely ordinary people on ordinary salaries).

The cost of these can be recouped via land value tax. If some areas shut down their libraries, museums etc then we will see whether house prices are affected. If they do not fall, then clearly the public attaches little value to them and other areas will follow suit.

But do not forget it would be a massive blow to tourist industry in London if they shut down all the wonderful museums, or started charging for them. Money that tourists don't spend on tickets for museums etc will be spent on hotels, food, drinks, taxis etc.

Opera, theatre, film subsidies are a different matter entirely. These people earn ridiculous salaries for no overall benefit to 99% of the general public.

Posted by: Mark Wadsworth | Sep 11, 2007 12:08:23 PM

Every year you hear about the ridiculous projects sponsored by the Arts Council. If they spend their money more wisely, those cuts shouldn't be a problem.

Not that they'll stop moaning about it, mind.

Posted by: Letters From A Tory | Sep 11, 2007 1:36:28 PM

[That's the ransom the luvvies and artistes insist upon to support the rest of the welfare state]

No it isn't. It's the equivalent of the government's sponsorship of "basic research" in the sciences. Creative industries are really important earners for the UK economy, and whining about the small subsidy they get really is like starving the golden goose.

Posted by: dsquared | Sep 11, 2007 2:21:51 PM

"Creative industries are really important earners for the UK economy"

The UK has always punched far above its weight in rock and pop music, without these businesses getting any subsidies or tax breaks whatsoever.

The UK punches above its weight in musicals, there are dozens of them on in London, they draw in a load of tourists as well (so good for hotel industry etc). They do not get any tax breaks or subsidies AFAIAA, because musicals are for plebs.

And quite possibly UK authors sell more books abroad than we buy books by foreign authors (to which JKR has no doubt contributed 75%, but hey). Authors and publishers do not get tax breaks, apart from VAT exemption (which appleis as much to foreign books anyway).

The film industry gets about £1bn a year in various subsidies. How much money do UK films earn abroad for the UK? Please provide facts and figures and we'll discuss further. Maybe it's a lot more than one billion English pounds, maybe its less.

And the opera gets far too much, full stop. Yes it might bring in some tourists, but so do musicals.

Posted by: Mark Wadsworth | Sep 11, 2007 3:53:55 PM

Arts subsidies are perhaps the most egregious example of the fact that whereas government spending is nominally intended to help the have-nots, its actual recipients are the middle classes.

Posted by: David Gillies | Sep 11, 2007 9:08:18 PM