Wednesday, 28 November 2012

"Stage stars blast 'madness' of cuts in arts funding at Evening Standard Theatre Awards"

Some pearls of wisdom from yesterday's Evening Standard (MBVNIF):

[Stephen] Fry said: “Whatever your politics, you can’t believe that art has to take a stand in the marketplace like potatoes or knives and forks or any other industrial thing.”

And

Accepting an award honouring his Olympics team, Boyle said “a true legacy of the opening ceremony” would be for the arts to be recognised in the EBacc. He added: “For a modern economy that doesn’t make cars any more, we’ve got to understand where our growth comes from. Our success is in culture. Anything that gets in the way of that should be fought against.”

Ahem.

I also get the general impression that most tourists who come to London for "the culture" want to go and see musicals, that most derided of low brow art forms which receives absolutely nothing in the way of subsidies and pays full whack VAT, PAYE, Business Rates and so on. And which are, by and large, enormously successful and profitable.

I doubt whether any tourists come to London especially to see UK taxpayer-funded films. For sure, public museums get subsidies as well and entrance is free, but it's not as if museum staff are routinely paid hundreds of thousands of pounds a year, that money actually goes on exhibitions and displays.

17 comments:

Ian Hills said...

What is Stephen Fry but a poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage? His is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Kj said...

Some BBC shows get quite a viewing over here, especially the kids stuff, oh and Antiques Roadshow. I'm sure there's at least some license-income from that, but thanks for paying up front ;) OTOH Downton Abbey, which is huge, pays it's own way AFAIU.

View from the Solent said...

"... For a modern economy that doesn’t make cars any more.."

1.34 million in 2011 (from SMMT )

Tedious, self-important luvvie. But I repeat myself.

Graeme said...

I used to go to classic plays put on by the National Theatre and RSC. However, they appeared to be catering for coachloads of bored schoolkids on outings or non-English speaking tourists of the oriental variety, based on my subjective assessments of my fellow attenders. So the productions tended to go for lavish sets - to give the audience somthing to look at - and speaking the words so fast that it was impossible for me to understand them - a Shakespearian soliloquy delivered so fast that you could not begin to wrap your head around the meaning (rather like a Gordon Brown speech). So I stopped going. Maybe big subsidised theatres are not the best way to show plays. I have had much better times in tiny little theatres over pubs.

Mark Wadsworth said...

IH, yup. All that culture wasn't wasted on you at least.

Kj, Downton Abbey is made by a commercial broadcaster ITV which is funded largely from normal advertising etc. Apart from that, Downton is disgusting Home-Owner-Ist propaganda of the worst sort.

As it happens, I personally like the BBC, £140 a year for advert-free telly for four people to watch is good value, and the BBC manage to piss absolutely everybody off simultaneously, including me!

Every science programme ends with a warning about "global warming" which annoys me no end. Glorious.

Graeme said...

I forgot to add that I have met many tourists in these grubby, under-funded places too, pleased that London had something to offer other than Mamma Mia or Les Mis.

Mark Wadsworth said...

VFTS, ta, but hence the link in the word "ahem".

G, OK, you are a paying punter and you know what you are talking about. I'm all in favour of keeping the tourists happy, but that does not involve giving Stephen Fry and his ilk vast sums of money.

Mark Wadsworth said...

G, I'm greatly reassured to hear that.

So either way, there is demand for this sort of stuff, and if there is demand, it will be provided, even privately.

If people pay to get to London and stay in our ridiculously over-priced hotels and pay £4 fora single Tube ticket, I don't think they are fussed if a ticket costs £30 or £60, that's spare change compared to flights and accommodation and so on.

Kj said...

MW: heh, there's a certain Guardianista spirit in BBC programming. I do wonder sometimes if there is some sinister subliminal messaging stuff going on when my kids get that certain stone-faced appearance when they watch that "In the Night Garden"-show.

Graeme said...

agreed MW. As long as whatever public money is provided does not go automatically to the subsidy-whores at the RSC and other places. I feel for the National Theatre - they have a crap building designed by an idiot that requires masses of money just to hold the concrete together. However, it would make a better carpark than theatre.

The Stigler said...

Yup. This is the trick that the luvvies always pull, that culture makes Britain a fortune, therefore they need lots of "investment". When really, the stuff that makes money is all the unsubsidised stuff like musicals, music, books, advertising, video games.

The US has no subsidies. You can go to college and learn acting, animation, film, but after that, you need to pay your own way. And for close to 100 years, they've been the most dominant culture on earth.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Kj, "In the night garden" rocks! It's sort of acid-induced stream of consciousness stuff up there with "Magic roundabout" or "Teletubbies".

G, in that case, knock it down and build a car park with a theatre on top - everybody wins! As to "public money", the £3 bn funding they get is probably no more than the VAT and PAYE and so on that they have to pay, let's get rid of both.

TS, exactly. The longest queues in London are usually for premiers of Hollywood films in Leicester Square when Rob Pattison or Tom Cruise turns up.

James Higham said...

Whatever your politics, you can’t believe that art has to take a stand in the marketplace like potatoes or knives and forks or any other industrial thing.

It does in Russia.

Bill Quango MP said...

Madame Tussauds always has a queue.

No one can figure out why.

banned said...

It's all been done before

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvNw0P5ZMbA

Yes Minister on arts subsidy 198?

Mark Wadsworth said...

BQ, I've been to Mme T's. It was very expensive but rubbish and on that day the Planetarium was shut. Load of crap if you ask me.

B, ta.

Kj said...

TS: not entirely true, they have the National Endowment for the Arts, and Corporation for Public Broadcasting. And certain cities have been known to be friendly with taxes towards film-companies. But it's pennies on the pound in comparison with what's being doled out in Europe usually.