Arts Council England (ACE) continue their "good christ how bad a week are we having?" with the announcement of a £40Million (GBP) fund to help certain companies in the arts that may or may not be struggling during the current economic bun fight.
Astute readers may have noticed the story earlier this week that mentioned ACE losing £4Million in the recent budget cuts announced by the government and those astute readers may be wondering just how an organisation can increase funding to certain companies using a sum of money 10 times the amount they had just lost!
It turns out that ACE has been stashing away large amounts of cash, from Lottery funds. According to The Stage;
"These balances have traditionally been kept in reserve in case large projects - such as capital building projects - need unexpected injections of cash."
Unexpected injections of large sums of money is a polite way of saying "we keep money in reserve because some chuckle head is almost certainly going to screw this up and we'll have to bail them out whether we like it or not!"
The money which could have been used to fund other projects was kept out of the way because ACE apparently has little or no-confidence that the things they authorise and fund can be managed in an effective way. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, no?
As if this latest funding scheme was some form of nutritious health bar they are calling it "Sustain" (you couldn't make this stuff up if you tried).
So, here's the rub.
First of all stop stashing cash away under the bed in case somebody, somewhere is an idiot and can't manage their project properly and comes crying to ACE for more gruel. Assess the projects properly, fund them properly and make sure they are managed properly. In other words, try very hard to be, at the very least, competent!
Secondly, stop making announcements that basically come down to "hey, we're going to fund the arts". That's what you're supposed to do! You would think they had figured that out by now.
It's getting to be like those inane reality police programmes on the BBC where some dullard with an IQ of 5 wants a pat on the back for arresting a criminal, it's your job chuckles, get over yourself already!
A related piece of comedy later emerged in The Times when the current head of ACE, Dame Liz Forgan, is quoted thus;
"If there's one thing that enrages me it's the idea that the arts are a luxury," she said. "The word summons up the vision of people swathed in mink getting out of Rolls-Royces. The reality of the arts is that it's devoted people living on fourpence ha'penny who passionately love what they do."
Just four or five paragraphs earlier the writers, Alice Thomson and Rachel Sylvester, state;
"The potential beneficiaries include the Royal National Theatre, the Royal Opera House, the Serpentine Gallery and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra."
Power to the people!