The Evil Imp

Mass Hysteria, sort of

The rumours are swirling, or at least staggering about like an asthmatic mouse, that the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) is a goner if the up and coming Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) has anything to do with it.

Lest you be unfamiliar with the DCMS they are the government department responsible for funding ACE, among many other things.

They also had responsibility for the Olympics in 2012 which a lot of people actually rather enjoyed so, why wouldn’t the coalition government get rid of them?

Would the demise of the DCMS necessarily be a bad thing however? Join us dear readers as we explore the details and get those mice some inhalers.

Bad Minister

Having a government minister who is directly responsible for culture across an entire country can be a good thing and a bad thing. If the minister is fully engaged and has a passion for the arts and arguing the case for culture in general (which is what they are supposed to do) then it’s all good, mostly!

The last two Culture Secretaries however have been anything but. Jeremy Hunt, now the Health Secretary, cut ACE’s budget by more than the DCMS was cut as a result of the last spending review. During his tenure he was more wrapped up in the controversy over BSkyB and the Olympics than anything else and showed an almost complete disregard for the arts.

As we pointed out a long time ago, as soon as The Olympics was over and Mr Hunt had proved himself to be the “good Tory soldier” he was promoted to a more prestigious post in government. Also, the last guy at the Health Department was completely incompetent.

Maria Miller, the current incumbent at the DCMS, is comically out of touch with planet earth, never mind the culture sector. Ms Miller gave a speech imploring the arts to make a strong economic case for continued public funding and in doing so managed to overlook the fact that everybody had been doing just that for about 30 years.

The actual “Culture Minister” Ed Vaizey can, at best, be described as a complete pillock (that’s a very British insult for sure). As with Ms Miller, Mr Vaizey has been accused, on numerous occasions, of being completely tone deaf when it comes to discussions about culture and culture funding. Much like Boris Jonhson (the current Mayor of London) he’s an amiable buffoon of very little purpose.

So, given the line up of completely disconnected miscreants that have been tasked with speaking for the arts at government level over the last few years it’s a wonder ACE still has any substantive financial support at all.

You have to ask yourself, are we better off with or better off without a government department that has a culture portfolio?

If the level of support the arts can expect to receive is based almost entirely on whether or not the person in charge is even remotely qualified for the job or actually gives a flying pigs behind about doing their job properly then, really, what difference does it make?

As long as ACE continues to be funded (by no means guaranteed) it doesn’t really matter what department is responsible for supplying the funding.

Protection Money

Getting rid of the DCMS may, inadvertently, help shield ACE from having its budget cut any further.

If the bean counters can tally up enough savings from removing the departmental infrastructure they may feel less inclined to cut the budgets of the organisations they fund. It’s a very big “if” mind you.

Given that the goal of the coalition government is widely believed to be nothing more than an idealogical push to reduce the size of government then removing an entire department may quench their bloodlust.

Moot Is A Funny Word

Any discussion of the CSR and the DCMS may be rendered completely moot because the changes announced wouldn’t take effect, if at all, until 2015.

2015 also happens to be the year of the next general election in the the UK (it’s why the current government is doing the CSR now).

If the current polls are to be believed then David Cameron and his henchman are destined for the political dumpster and it’s unlikely that any new government would carry through with further sweeping cuts that would be massively unpopular across the entire country.

We would also be remiss in not mentioning that every economic report issued since the coalition took power has shown their austerity measures to be an unmitigated disaster. Those two words side by side are not what you want to hear if you are trying to win an election or stay in power.

Before anybody thinks about starting a petition to “save” the DCMS we would urge you to think for a while, realise that the politicians are not listening because they simply don’t care and then take your arguments to the people, where the real power is.

[ Lobbying Without The Numbers ]