This comes a little late, I'm finding it hard to keep up at the moment, and it is merely my humble opinion, which is not particularly informed - I have had little/no dealing with the ACE or any funding body, and when I was reading up on the statistics/articles relating to the cuts on March 30 I felt very confused and not in touch enough to comprehend the true nature of the facts, figures and opinions I was reading.
My problem in these situations is that I am pretty ignorant about most things, I can't fight my causes intellectually as I don't have the knowledge - I tend to form my opinions through instinct, experience and through talking to people. And my instincts tell me that something is not too wise about the way ACE and the funding system works and the effect the recent cuts will have.
I am going to use the example of the Greenroom Manchester to explain how I came about this conclusion. Considering the size of the city I have always (I grew up in Stockport, right next door) found it odd that Manchester has a relatively small dance/performance/art scene. There are a few big theaters, such as the Palace and the Lowry, which host large scale dance companies or musicals, there is the Exchange Theatre which is purely theatre and spoken word. Then there is the Greenroom. The only place in Manchester to see independent performance art and dance. It has been running for 28 years and supports artists, both emerging and established, and organises things such as 'Turn', an open submission dance platform/'micro festival' for North West dancers and dance-makers or 'Method Lab' through which a selection of artists receive a package of support including a small commission fee, rehearsal space, mentoring, peer support and access to technical resources in order to present the developed piece (Method Lab is linked to another opportunity called Emergency) at the Method Lab
Greenroom were unsuccessful in their NPO application. The Barbican, a huge internationally renowned venue, in the capital city, that I assume does pretty well on ticket sales and has many a patron, had their funding increased by 108% (according to Guardian statistics). Quite simply that doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
One thing is pretty clear though, the big guys at the top will make sure they look after themselves. ACE may have spent (according to Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail) £48 million on administration, £22,000 on Christmas cards in 2009 and £50,000 on office parties over two years, but its the artists that are being asked to gracefully accept a reduction in the monetary, and consequently the social, importance given to their crafts. And are being told to stop moaning by people who I doubt have actually tried living on a dancers/artists wage. Artists don't go in to the arts in the hope of making money and as a generalisation they are put value on other things in life, and a big part of artists anger at these cuts is the effect it will have on the possibility of sharing the arts with wider and more diverse audiences.
I was recently discussing all of this with a friend of mine who graduated from The Place, who told me about a discussion (video posted below) between Jon Snow, Kenneth Tharp, chief executive of The Place and Dr Steve Davies of the Institute for Economic Affairs. I find Dr Steve Davies argument that the arts shouldn't be funded by the government as 'people shouldn't be forced to fund something they wouldn't voluntarily fund' pretty laughable. I wouldn't voluntarily fund chauffeur driven cars for MP's or their second homes, but I do.
We also discussed that Kennith Tharp had, when talking about his time at London Contemporary Dance Theatre, said that Robin Howard's belief was that each dancer should be paid enough to be able to afford a mortgage. When the company was disbanded in 1994 it took Tharp ten years to get back to that wage.
A overhaul and refining of the system we may need, cuts to funding we certainly don't.