Now, we wanted to be a bit more blunt with the headline by way of an expletive orientated intensifier to make it "Jeremy Hunt is a F****** Idiot". Alas, editorial guidelines don't allow it so onward and upward.
The Stage is reporting, sort of, the latest rant from the permanently smug Minister for Culture that is Jeremy Hunt. Speaking at some conference in London, attended by people who apparently have nothing better to do, Mr Hunt said;
"The arts world has to deliver on its share and that is - in particular in very constrained financial times - that they have to sustain their commitment to an education agenda and sustain their commitment to a participation agenda. It will be very tempting, as budgets are cut, to draw back from some of that outreach activity, but I think it's incredibly important and I'm hoping to engage constructively with the arts world to make sure that we can do that. Because I think it is that commitment to outreach that will drive the engagement in the digital agenda, which is so important."
There is some other waffle in there about broadband internet access and "digital agendas" but essentially the DCMS's Chief Bottle Washer wants dance companies, et al, to keep doing exactly what they are doing but with less money than they had before!
Well OK then, we're sure they'll get right on that!
Mr Hunt appears to be under the completely misguided delusion that education work can be done over the internet, just because.
Either he's having a long term seizure and believes that Hard Light Holography™ is a real thing and Tony Stark is his best friend or, more likely, he has no idea what he's talking about.
Sure, digital media can aid and abet real world contact with actual human beings but it is, and always will be, a minor augmentation to a real world workshop or class. Nobody is learning anything substantive from Twitter feeds and Facebook updates.
The DCMS drones are also overlooking the fact that producing high quality digital media might actually cost more money than sending out dancers to teach workshops in the first place.
We're sure that Mr Hunt has also overlooked the minefield of copyright and licensing issues connected to digital distribution, especially when it comes to music. Be prepared for a lot of lawsuits testing the idea of copyright "fair use" over the next few years.
Over the last few months the current government has offered nothing but thinly veiled threats to the arts and everybody else. All they seem capable of is destruction and fear mongering, we don't actually know what they are for, if anything. This is yet another classic example of speaking out-loud before you have derived a workable solution.
The DCMS wants the arts to keep on delivering education and outreach but they don't want to pay for it. Or, they don't want to pay the human element of that delivery. Perhaps we should seek solace in the fact that the political hacks acknowledge that arts education and participation are important. If they believe that then they must believe that the arts are also important, probably!
Now we know, here in TheLab™, that the classic response to this from the "culture sector" will be a lot of meetings, a lot of polite statements, perhaps even more seminars to rebut the position of Mr Hunt and his cronies.
In fact the Stage piece includes a response from the permanently polite National Campaign for the Arts. Believe us when we tell you that they are not the kind of people you want next to you in a bar fight, for all the wrong reasons.
Let us save you the bother though, just cut and paste the paragraph below, email it to the DCMS or repeat it in your speeches and save yourselves a lot of time and money.
Dear F****** Idiot (don't worry they'll know who it's for)
Less money means less creating and touring and that means less teaching and outreach and if you think we're doing it for free then you're having a f****** giraffe mate!
PS: Hard Light Holography™ doesn't f****** exist!
The DCMS denied Mr Hunt was a f******* idiot or at least they would if we asked them because who would admit to such a thing?