Thursday, 6 March 2014

Brass bands or opera? The tale of arts funding


Shipley's MP Phil Davies has highlighted a concern that many of us have raised before - the way in which arts funding is dominated by a limited number of elite arts including opera:

Philip Davies, who sits on Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport select committee, says he shares concerns that the north is being overlooked for arts funding.

He uncovered figures which show that opera is getting £347.4 million during the five years of the current Parliament, compared to just £1.8 million for brass bands. 

Now much though I like opera, I find this a shockingly disproportionate distribution - assuming we support the idea of government funding for the arts (not everyone does, I know), surely art forms like brass band music deserve a fairer share?

What is more dispiriting is that the Director North for Arts Council England (I note the pretentious styling of the organisation's titles and name) can only parrot the official line from their London press office:

There are valuable and varied accounts of the arts and culture landscape across the country and we hope that the Committee receives a range of submissions that show this diversity of experience and opinion

Wibble. The truth is that the Royal Opera House alone will receive £77.5m in Arts Council grant between 2012 and 2015. As far as I can tell this is significantly more that the entire amount of grant funding given by the Arts Council to Bradford organisations. And it dwarfs support for traditional working class arts like brass band music.

It has long seemed to me that we subsidise art for the wealthy while allowing genuine community arts to wither away for lack of support.



Umbongo said...

Taxpayer funding of "the arts" should stop now. "Artists" funded in this way skew themselves to cater to their paying audience which is Arts England and other quangos populated by the metropolitan left not those who, given a choice in the expenditure of their money (whether raised through taxation or via the lottery) might not wish to support said "arts".
More to the point, "genuine community arts" as you describe them are able - if truly genuine - to fund themselves, not rely on the whims of the nomenklatura

Dan said...

Look through the museums of the world. Look at all the great works of art, the famous ones costing into the millions. See how pretty much all of them were either produced on spec by an artist, or were produced for a wealthy patron.

See how none of them were produced by some artist funded by a government?

Tax funded art is generally crap, and almost nobody appreciates it. It isn't visually appealing, and has little if any artistic merit.

About time we stopped getting played for suckers by the likes of Tracy Emin and her talentless ilk, and simply ceased paying for this dreck.