The Evil Imp

Earned vs Entitled

Both before and after the government suits decided that funding the arts was not such a good idea after all, many an ignorant cretin was to be heard decrying artists as those looking for nothing more than a handout. Free money for freeloaders if you will.

A word often bandied about was “entitlement”.

Yes it’s true that there are some who work in the arts for whom the word “work” is not really part of their job description, we won’t name names, but you know know who you are.

The new National Portfolio funding application, as one ACE employee put it, will be good at getting rid of the “dead wood”. Those organisations that have been around for a long time and had their funding renewed automatically without so much as a polite conversation will get what’s coming to them. So the common wisdom goes at least.

Let’s leave aside for the moment the fact that ACE is historically bad at deciding whether or not an organisation is fit to continue receiving funding and move on.

Those that contend that all ACE funding should be up for grabs at all times and that no single company should receive regular funding are often short on ideas for how a dance company can plan, develop and grow from year to year.

Of course the reason they have no suggestions about how to do that is because there is no way to do that, at least not in this wretched little country.

We, here in TheLab™, would proffer the idea that “being around for 20 years” is not actually a reason to bring forth the hate. It’s a reason to look at that particular company and ask “what have they done and what do they have to offer?”

Under the old system, and probably under the new system, it’s was difficult for new companies to get into the regular funding stream and build up their body of work.

However, a company that has been around for a decade or two, if they are any good, has built up a massive body of work, teaching expertise, touring expertise and a lot more besides.

Motionhouse – 20 years, Candoco – 20 years, Phoenix – 30 years, SDT – 20 years, Jasmin Vardimon – 15 years, Hofesh Shechter – about half and hour (OK, not a good example that one! Ed!)

These companies, and many others, are not entitled to funding no matter what, but have they earned it? Damn straight they have, especially when you compare what they receive to what they have given back in terms of their many thousands of interactions with the general public.

Instead of looking at organsiations that have been around for a while as entrenched, perhaps ACE, and many others, could look toward developing ways that their experience and skills could be harnessed and shared with others.

Dare we use the phrase “centres of excellence”?

ACE has of course dropped the ball on the whole funding thing. The current management have managed to lose hundreds of millions in arts funding over the next few years.

However, investment in actual artists, that’s people not buildings, needs to be dramatically increased, from ACE’s perspective, and established companies need to be funded and encouraged to provide support and guidance to new dance makers and new dancers.

How do you achieve that when funding is being cut? We’re not going to tell you, because you already know how!